What Causes Fur Clumps on My Cat’s Back?

Cats are naturally fastidious animals, and their meticulous grooming habits make them a favored pet for many cultures and people. Some cats need daily or weekly grooming sessions from their owners to maintain coat health and avoid fur clumps.

The common term for fur clumps on a cat’s back is mats. Some mats develop with regular movement, and others build up over time without regular grooming. They are not only unsightly but also very painful to your cat. Seasonal shedding can also cause matted fur in cats. You can prevent mats from developing and also de-mat your cat with professional assistance.

In this guide, you’ll find out more on what causes fur clumps on a cat’s back. Let’s dive in!

Causes of Fur Clumps (Matting)

Matted or Clumped Fur is a condition that occurs in long-haired cats. It’s when the cat’s fur becomes knotted and entangled. Here are the main reasons this can happen:


When a cat sheds its undercoat, the fur can become caught in the topcoat. Dirty and oily fur can also become entwined and matted. The longer matted fur remains unattended, the more problematic it becomes. Knots will grow tighter and cause health issues for your cat.

Eosinophilic plaques

The itchy, hard clumps your cats have on their backs can also be eosinophilic plaques. These patches occur due to allergies to fleas. Even a single flea can cause an allergic reaction.


Ringworm is another reason for matted hair. This fungal infection can affect cats and spreads quickly in the same household. It usually affects the skin on the back.


Obesity can also cause matted hair problems in cats. It makes it hard for cats to turn around and groom themselves. You’ll often notice short-haired obese cats with hard mats forming in the lower-back fur – an area impossible for an obese cat to reach.

All Cats are Susceptible to Clumping

The luxurious coat of long-haired cats requires more grooming. You have to maintain their lustrous locks with regular brushing and combing. Excessive shedders are susceptible to hard, clumpy hair, and short-haired cats are not exempt from matting. Senior cats also have difficulty grooming themselves due to stiffness that naturally comes with advancing age. The coat and skin health in senior cats deteriorates as, and their skin produces excess oils. Overweight cats are prone to matting because they can’t reach most parts of their bodies.

Health issues are another big factor that impedes a cat’s ability to self-groom. Sickness can make your cat lazy and not have enough energy for grooming. Fur clumps may be your first indicator that your cat is suffering.

Stress can also influence your cat’s grooming habits. Sometimes your cat will hyper groom when stressed and create bald spots. This helps release endorphins in their brain to reduce their anxiety. In other cases, stressed cats feel too scared to groom. These cats have severe anxiety and are constantly surveying their environment for danger signs. They can’t take time away from over-analyzing their environment to attend to their grooming needs.

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Grooming is essential for your cat’s health. Matting can occur despite their ability to self-groom. Any cats with oral injury may resist grooming themselves. It’s important to groom your cat regularly to avoid matting.

How to prevent matting

Despite cats’ ability to self-groom, matting can occur on their back. Here’s how you can prevent this from happening:

Regular Brushing

The best way to help prevent your cat’s fur from clumping is to comb them every day. It’s important to establish a regular routine for grooming, so your cat becomes accustomed to the process and does not get frightened by it. Most cats enjoy being groomed, but you should start slowly to avoid scaring them. You can use a soft bristle brush to make them comfortable.

Once your cat sits calmly and lets you brush them, you can switch to a comb that is appropriate for your cat’s fur type. Long-haired and short-haired cats have different combs designed to suit their fur type. You’ll want to comb down to the cat’s undercoat to remove the shedding fur that gets tangled in the topcoat.

Be thorough and brush all of your pet’s body. Daily brushes are more effective than a big brush after weeks.

Diet and Nutrition

Diet plays a massive role in your cat’s coat health. If your cat’s fur seems problematic, talk to your veterinarian about changing their diet. Vitamin E and Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for a healthy coat. You can introduce kibble and freeze-dried food containing these nutrients to keep your cat’s fur shiny and healthy.

How to get rid of matting?  

De-matting is possible, and here’s what you need:

Start with a relaxed, comfortable cat. You won’t want to remove a mat during playtime suddenly, or you’ll suffer damage from claws. Gather a few tools before you begin:

  • Blunt-end scissors
  • Fine-toothed comb
  • Spray bottle/conditioner
  • Cornstarch
  • Cat treats

Prepare the Matted Area

Sprinkle a little talcum powder or cornstarch on the clumped fur, and gently spread it with your fingers. Gently pull the mat away from your cat’s skin so that you can see the skin underneath all the fur.

If your cat resists, take a break and speak in a calming voice. Continue petting the cat until it relaxes. Repeat this practice anytime during the procedure if your cat becomes stressed out.

Cut the Mat

Hold sharp blunt-nosed scissors perpendicular to the skin, and carefully slide the scissors into the mat. Make a clean cut and try not to pull the fur while cutting. Give your cat a small treat and praise it for its patience.

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Move the scissors over half an inch and cut again. Start separating the mats with your fingers, and you’ll notice loose pieces pull away.

Comb the Mat

Use a fine-toothed flea comb and gently comb through the mat piece. Start from the tip of the hairs and move down into the stubborn mat. You can use three or four pegs of the comb for stubborn sections.

Seeking Professional Help

Not all matted cat fur is easy to cut and remove. Sometimes shaving your cat’s entire coat is the only solution. It’s best to see a veterinarian or a professional pet stylist because they have the right tools and knowledge. They know how to remove matted fur without stressing or injuring your cat.

If you’ve done your best and followed a stringent grooming routine, chances are your cat may still get mats. It’s important to remove them quickly, but the severity can get overwhelming for pet owners. Some people are frequent travelers and can’t keep up with a regular grooming routine.

If you choose to go to a professional, you can ask for advice about the correct detangling conditioners, shampoo, and sprays to use at home. Incorporate these supplies into your regular grooming routine to keep your matted cat fur at bay.

Professionals know different ways to remove mats. The technique used depends on the cat’s skin condition and tolerance to the grooming process. You can comb smaller mats at home, but larger, severe mats need professional intervention. Always hire an experienced groomer to shave your cat’s fur safely. Cat skin is delicate and can be cut easily with sharp tools.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does clumped hair hurt cats?

Clumped hair or mats can become uncomfortable and even painful for your cat. They also cause severe skin irritation and infection.

Will matted hair grow out?

Matted hair won’t grow out without regular grooming. You can remove most mats with gentle brushing and teasing, but hard mats can require extra work.

Can you shave a pet with matted fur?

Yes. Shaving is the only option when severe matting or pelting is present.

Can you put olive oil on a cat’s fur?

Yes. Brushing olive oil on your cats’ fur will keep it shiny and soft.

What can I use to sedate my pet for grooming?

Acepromazine is a common pill given as a pet sedative for grooming or travel.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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