Pain-Free Way How to Get Mats Out of Cat Fur (No Shaving Involved!)

As a cat owner, one of the most helpful grooming techniques to learn is how to get mats out of cat fur. It not only helps keep your cat looking cute but also help protect them from skin irritation coming from fleas and skin parasites.

Mats are clumps of hair that form when loose hair gets tangled onto the rest of your cat’s fur. Although matted cat fur is commonly found in long-hair cat breeds, short-haired cats can also develop mats in their coats.

The reason mats develop is that cats naturally shed their dead outer fur to make room for newer hair to grow. However, poor grooming, excessive stress, and health issues like allergies, bacterial infection, and ringworm can cause your cat to shed their fur more than average.

Shaving off your cat's fur is the most common--and most drastic--way how to get mats out of cat fur. The downside of this is that shaving can be quite painful since it's easy to nick their skin in the process, causing more harm than good.

In this post, I'll be teaching you how to remove mats from cat fur without having to shave your cat's coat thoroughly.


How to Get Mats Out of Cat Fur

What you’ll need:

  • Metal-toothed comb – I use a 2-sided metal comb that's got both a wide and fine teeth. The wide-toothed area is what I use to get rid of mats while the fine-tooth is excellent for grooming.
  • Cornstarch
  • Dematting comb – I got the Pecute Dematting Comb Tool Kit because not only does it help get rid of the large mats from my cat's fur, but also comes with the 2-sided metal comb I use to groom my cat. So, it's an excellent value for your money.
  • Kitty treats – This will help keep your cat calm and steady while you’re getting the mats out of your cat’s fur.

Optional items that you can use:

  • Baby powder - Make sure that you use an unscented variety since cats are very sensitive to some scents.
  • Witch Hazel essential oil – I found that applying a small amount on my cat’s skin can help soothe it from irritation and itching.
  • A pair of scissors – Make sure that you use a blunt-edged one. This will help prevent accidentally hurting your cat as you cut away some of the mats.
  • Cone Collar - This will help keep your cat from licking the mats (and biting your hands) while removing them, especially if the skin underneath is irritated.

6 Steps How to Get Mats Out of Cat Fur

Step 1: Calm your cat


Make sure that your cat is calm and relaxed before you start getting the mats out of your cat’s fur. Gently scratching your cat behind his or her ears can help. Offering your cat a treat is another way to calm and pacify your cat.

Don't use playtime as a way to relax your cat before removing the matted furs. Abruptly stopping playtime can have the opposite effect on your cat.

Step 2: Rub cornstarch on your cat’s fur


Comb your cat's fur gently to find the matted fur areas. Once you see it, sprinkle a little bit of cornstarch or baby powder, and rub this lightly on the matted fur area. This will help detangle some of the mats from your cat's fur.

Additionally, cornstarch helps soothe the skin from irritation. This will help relieve any itching and irritation your cat may be experiencing because of the matted fur, and help further calm your cat down.

It is a good idea to apply the cornstarch on your cat’s matted fur one area at a time. That way, you minimize the chances that your cat accidentally licks the matted area.

When your cat accidentally licks the area where you sprinkle the cornstarch, the cornstarch will clump together, making it harder to get rid of the mats. At the same time, cornstarch can cause your cat to drool and get an upset stomach.

Alternatively, you can also attach a cone collar to your cat before applying the cornstarch on the matted areas. That way, you can keep your cat from reaching the mats (and your hands) while you get the mats out of your cat’s fur.

Step 3: Comb away the mats


Take your metal comb and, using the wide-toothed side, comb your cat's fur until you get to the mat on your cat’s fur. Hold the hair nearest your cat's skin firmly, but gently so that you don’t hurt your cat.

Gently work your comb through the mat. Start combing it from the tips of the mat and work your way downwards towards the base of your cat’s fur. This technique will only make sure that you thoroughly get rid of the mat.

As you’re combing your cat’s fur to get the mats out, be careful that you don’t tug or pull on your cat’s fur. Not only is this very painful for your cat, but also further irritate the sensitive skin underneath the mat.

In the video below, a professional pet stylist demonstrates how to properly do the combing technique:

Step 4: Cut away bigger mats

Via Amazon

In some cases, the mat on your cat’s fur is very thick that it won't come off your cat's fur just by combing it. If your cat is starting to grow uneasy as you try to comb the mat out, it’s a sign that he or she is starting to hurt. Cutting away the mats will be the best option at this point.

I use a de-matting comb to do this because it cuts away the mat without taking away much of your cat’s fur with it. Also, it minimizes the chance that I accidentally cut my poor cat’s skin in the process.

Just like with the previous step, make sure that you firmly hold the base of your cat’s fur to help reduce the pain from the pulling and tugging. At the same time, your hand serves a barrier between the de-matting comb and your cat’s sensitive skin.

Take care when you use a de-matting comb because the razors fitted here are very sharp and you can cut yourself very easily, based on personal experience.

Alternatively, you can also use a pair of scissors to cut away the mat that can’t be removed through combing. If you’re going to use this technique, it’s best to ask someone to help you.

To cut away the mat using a pair of scissors, comb your cat’s fur until you get to the mat. Ask someone to help hold the base of the fur and your cat as you cut the mat. This will help prevent your cat from making sudden movement while cutting away the mat.

Step 5: Give your cat a final brushing


Once you got out all the visible mats out of your cat’s fur, give your cat a final combing using a fine-tooth comb or brush. This will help you make sure that there are no other small mats left on your cat’s fur.

At the same time, combing your cat’s fur after removing all the mats will also get rid of any hairs that may have shed during the process. More important, combing or brushing your cat’s fur will help keep it healthy and even help minimize shedding.

Step 6: Give your cat a treat


Removing mats can be a somewhat stressful experience for your cat, especially if your cat's got a lot of them. Although the relief from the itch and irritation is almost immediate, it's still a great idea to give your cat a treat after this for being so well-behaved.

If you have some witch hazel essential oil, this is also the best time to apply it on the skin of your cat. Witch hazel essential oil helps relieve itching and irritation on your cat’s skin, and helps heal any redness.

Also, take a few moments to play and cuddle your cat. That way, your cat won't feel traumatized by the discomfort when you remove your mats.

Now, you’re finished!

As you can see, you don’t need to immediately reach for the razor to get mats out of your cat’s fur.

Of course, there are some cases when the mats are so big that they look like large balls of your cat’s fur all over your cat’s body. If this the case with your cat, there's no other option left but to shave the mats and your cat’s fur.

If shaving your cat’s fur is the only option you have, I'd recommend taking your cat to the vet or a professional groomer for this.

Severe matting means that your cat’s skin is more sensitive now because of the irritation. Your vet or a professional groomer will not only have the right tools but also know the proper technique to do this without hurting your cat.

Also, make it a point to make grooming your cat a daily habit. Taking a few minutes to comb your cat’s fur, especially in those hard-to-reach areas can help you get rid of loose hairs, and prevent matting from happening in the future.

Do you have any personal tips on how to get mats out of cat fur? How about to prevent them from happening? If so, do share them in the comments below. I'd love to hear more about it.

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Debby Jackson

Hi there, I am Debby. I am your modern-day cat lady who is just utterly crazy about cats. I am always thirsty for new knowledge on how to keep my feline friends happy and healthy all the time.

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