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Matting in Cats and Dogs – what lurks beneath

Matting in our furry friends can be more than just a mess of tangled fur; it can affect their comfort and wellbeing. As pet owners who adore our four-legged family members, it's essential to understand how matting impacts our pets and its relation to the Animal Welfare Act. Learn how to prevent matting and what causes it.

The impact of matting

A picture of a dogs leg with a sore that has been caused and hidden by matted fur
Sore hiding under tight matting

Skin Irritation: Matting isn't just an inconvenience; it can lead to significant discomfort for your pet. When fur becomes tangled and clumped, it tugs at the skin, creating friction and irritation. Over time, this constant pulling can cause redness and even painful sores. Imagine wearing a tight, itchy jumper all day; it's no different for your furry friend. Skin issues can be lurking underneath, such as hotspots, parasites and infection.

Limited Mobility: Severe matting can have a profound impact on your pet's mobility. Matts often form in areas where friction occurs, such as the armpits and groin. This restricted movement can make it difficult for your pet to play, run, or even walk comfortably. It would be like someone pulling your hair all day. Overheating:

Our pets rely on their fur to regulate their body temperature. However, when matts obstruct airflow to the skin, it becomes challenging for them to stay cool, especially in warmer weather. Overheating can lead to distress, excessive panting, and even heatstroke. It's essential to keep your pet's coat free from matts, ensuring they can maintain a comfortable body temperature year-round.

Hygiene Issues:

Matts can create a haven for dirt, debris, and even faeces. When these substances get trapped in the mats, it not only becomes unsightly but also unsanitary. Your pet's coat should act as a barrier to protect their skin and keep them clean. Keeping your pet matt-free is a vital part of maintaining their overall hygiene.

In summary, matting isn't just an aesthetic issue; it directly impacts your pet's comfort, health, and happiness. By understanding the consequences of matting and taking proactive steps to prevent it, you can ensure that your furry companion enjoys a life free from discomfort and unnecessary health issues.

The Animal Welfare Act - the owner’s and groomer’s responsibility

The Animal Welfare Act protects the wellbeing of animals. Within the act it states animals are to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. Neglecting matting and allowing it to become severe can be considered a violation of this act. As responsible pet owners, it's crucial to be aware of the importance of preventing matting and maintain your pet's comfort and health. The Soggy Dog Spa follows the Humanity over Vanity ethos, and will not put your animals through unnecessary suffering to brush out matting. Severe matting will be clipped out instead.

Why is my dog or cat getting matted? Understanding what leads to matting is crucial in preventing it. Here are some common causes that can result in those pesky tangles and matts in your pet's fur: Lack of Grooming:

Pets with long or dense coats require regular grooming to prevent matting. When grooming is neglected, their fur can easily become tangled and clump together. Some breeds are more prone to matting than others due to the nature of their coats. Breeds like Poodles, Shih Tzus, and Persian cats, for example, have hair that is more susceptible to matting.


Wet fur is more prone to matting. If your pet loves to play in the rain, swim, or even just gets caught in a drizzle, their damp fur can easily form mats. After any wet adventures, it's essential to dry your pet thoroughly to prevent moisture-related matting.

Improper Brushing: Brushing your pet regularly is a key preventive measure against matting. However, using the wrong brushes or combs, or employing improper brushing techniques, can contribute to matting rather than preventing it. Ensure that you're using the right tools for your pet's coat type and that you're brushing gently and effectively. All clients at The Soggy Dog Spa get free coat care advice, from the correct tools to use, demo of how to brush effectively and products for home maintenance. Just ask at your next appointment for advice.

Ragdoll cat with blue eyes

Shedding and Undercoat:

Shedding seasons where they lose excess fur. If this loose fur is not removed promptly, it can become entangled with the remaining coat, leading to matting.

Cats and dogs are equally at risk of having the dead hair matting with the remaining coat. Breeds such as German Shepherds and Ragdoll cats all need de-shedding regularly.

Natural Movements:

Your pet's daily activities can contribute to matting, especially in areas where friction occurs. This includes where their legs rub against their body, their collar area, and the tail base. Keeping an eye on these high-friction areas and addressing mats as they form can help prevent more extensive matting issues. Outdoor cats who like to explore the wilderness are likely to get matted due to debris getting caught in the coat.

Above: Pelted cat coat (where lots of matts join to form one large matt)
Pelted cat coat (where lots of matts join to form one large matt)

Limited mobility/health issues:

As cats age, conditions such as arthritis can prevent the cat from effectively licking some of the dead hair out. This can cause matting, which progressively gets worse as the cat is unable to deal with the matting. Owners of long hair cats will need to help their cat with grooming on a more regular basis.

Understanding these common causes of matting is the first step in preventing it. By being proactive in your pet's grooming routine and addressing potential matting early on, you can keep their fur soft, smooth, and tangle-free, ensuring their comfort and overall wellbeing.

Preventing Matting in Your Cat and Dog

Regular Grooming appointments:

Regular grooming appointments based on your pet’s coat type, lifestyle and the amount of time available for home will help prevent matting occurring. Longer hair breeds like Shih Tzus, Poodles, Persians and Ragdolls will need a higher frequency of appointments.

Matting removed from a domestic long hair cat
Matting removed from a domestic long hair cat

This isn’t usually adequate for a long hair cat to prevent matting, they need help from their owner to regularly comb out the dead hair. Long-haired cat breeds, in particular, can benefit from grooming appointments to keep their fur matt free. Consult with a cat groomer experienced with your cat's breed for guidance.

Home maintenance:

Daily brushing is highly recommended for dogs with long or dense coats like Cockapoos, other poodle mixes, Golden Retrievers or Collies. Regular brushing helps prevent mats from forming and strengthens the bond between you and your canine companion.

For Cat Owners: While daily brushing is ideal, cats may not always tolerate it. Try to brush your cat regularly, even if it's not daily. Some cats may enjoy being brushed, while others may prefer shorter sessions. Gradually introducing your cat to brushing can help them become more accustomed to it.

Choose the Right Tools:

For Dog Owners: Dogs come in various coat types, from short and smooth to long and curly. Choose brushes and combs specifically designed for your dog's coat type to effectively remove loose fur and prevent matting.

For Cat Owners: Cats also have diverse coat textures, so selecting the right grooming tools is essential. Consult with your local dog or cat groomer to find brushes and combs suitable for your pet's unique coat.

Bathing and Drying:

Dogs often require regular baths, especially those that spend a lot of time outdoors. Ensure your dog is thoroughly dried after each bath to prevent moisture-related matting. Cats are generally adept self-cleaners and may not need regular baths. However, in certain situations, like for cats with long fur that are prone to matting, occasional baths may be necessary. In such cases, ensure your cat is fully dried after the bath to avoid mat formation.

Conditioners and conditioning sprays can help ease knots out. Brush your pet through before drying to prevent matting forming. Ensure for cats you’re using cat specific products, as some dog products are toxic to cats. After bathing, squeeze and pat the coat dry. Don’t rub the coat, as it causes friction; friction = matting. For more information on how to bath your dog like a pro, check out our blog post here.

Matted long hair dog at the groomers
Matted long hair dog

Trimming and Haircuts: For Dog Owners: Some dog breeds benefit from regular trims or haircuts to maintain a manageable coat length. Breeds like Collies and Poodles often require professional grooming for haircuts to prevent matting. Speak to your groomer about an easy to maintain style.

For Cat Owners: Cats don't typically need haircuts as dogs do. However, long-haired cat breeds may benefit from having their fur trimmed occasionally, especially in areas prone to matting, such as the belly and hindquarters. Consult with a cat groomer for expert advice on when and how to trim your cat's fur.

In summary:

Remember that regular grooming and attention to your pet's unique needs are key to keeping their coats matt-free and healthy.

By taking these preventive measures, you can ensure that your furry companions live happier, healthier lives, free from the discomfort and health issues associated with matting. As loving pet owners, your role is crucial in their wellbeing. Educate yourself about matting and share this knowledge with fellow pet owners to create a healthier and happier pet community.

If your pet needs shaving short due to matting, it’s not the end of the world! Hair will grow back, and you can start afresh to keep your pet matt free.

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