What Causes Fur Clumps on My Cat’s Back?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

When it comes to grooming, cats are quite self-sufficient. They need virtually no help from us – but when they do, it usually means the matter is quite serious – or should we say the ‘mat’ is quite serious.

‘Mat’ is the problem that leaves you wondering, ‘what causes fur clumps on my cat’s back? And how can I prevent that?’

Fur clumps on cat’s back are called mats. They are basically just knots and tangles in the fur. It is a common problem in cats with long coat but short-haired cats are also susceptible. Matting is also a common in cats that are too fat or too old to reach their back. Seasonal shedding may also aggravate the issue. A little grooming assistance from you can prevent the problem.

Just because it’s a common occurrence, doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. Fur clumps are more than just an aesthetic issue. They aren’t just eyesores for you; they are actually quite annoying – even painful – for the cat as well.   

Anyhow, if you see those clumps on your cat’s back, it means your feline friend needs a extra hand. Not only do you need to dematt royal highness’ coat, you also need to find a way to prevent the problem in the future.

See how vets remove clumps from a badly matted cat fur.

Now we will learn how we can do it at home.

The Cause of Clumps

First, let us talk in details about the cause of clumps. In the simplest words possible, clumps are caused due to lack of proper grooming. Believe it or not, your cat has limits – especially, if the fur is gorgeous long and thick, poor kitty can do only so much grooming. It is just natural to miss a few spots.

Now, when the cat keeps missing a few spots, that is when the dirt and debris mixes up with the natural sebum in the fur and creates mats. Sometimes, it may not be their own sebum but grease their fur picked up from any other surface around the house.

If you have kids at home, they might be touching the cat with grubby hands, leaving sticky residues that can cause clumps later.

Missing hard to reach places when grooming is not unusual for cats that have grown stiffer with age, are too fat to move flexibly, or the ones suffering from arthritis or any other illness that restricts movement. Another underlying cause is any form of oral disease that can make it painful for your cat to groom its fur properly.

Of course, these reasons can vary from cat to cat. The important thing to know is that you need to help your friend.

Clumps are Not Harmless

Mats don’t only look bad in your baby’s beautiful fur, they can also become a bigger nuisance over time. Now we know that they are the ‘uncleaned’ patches that turn into mats. And wherever there is a lack of cleanliness, there will be trouble.

No wonder these knots can easily become a breeding ground for fleas, and even bacteria. So, they can lead to infections and irritation.

So, if you see those clumps, don’t wait for your cat to groom them out of its fur. Assist them in getting rid of the clumps. If you suspect an underlying health issue, like the ones mentioned above, see a vet for a proper diagnosis. In case your cat does suffer from a health issue that makes grooming difficult for them, then do know that they will need your grooming assistance on a regular basis.

Prevention Is the Best Cure

Don’t wait for the mats to form before you help your kitty.

Regular grooming is the only way to prevent clumps as much as possible. Use a wide toothcomb, preferably ones created specifically for cats, to prevent knots and tangles from forming. Most cats would need brushing at least once a day. Yet, if they are too active, they might still get their hair tangled.

Hygiene is an important part of cat grooming. Give your baby a regular bath using products that are specifically made for longhaired breeds. These shampoos have gentle cat-friendly conditioners to keep their fur soft and tangle free.

However, if you see one of two clumps on the back, postpone the bath for now. Water may only make the mats more stubborn. You need to take care of those tangles before the problem gets worse.

De-Matting Is Possible

Before you go for extreme measures, see if the clumps can be removed with a wide-toothed comb or a cat grooming brush. Hold the fur close to the roots and start brushing from the ends. Slowly and gently, move towards the roots as the hair start to separate.

If the regular comb or brush doesn’t help, you might need a razor comb (Available on amazon here), also called a mat comb. These combs have a blade that safely cuts hair in the clump. Don’t worry, it will grow back before you know.

Remember, the fur must be completely dry before you try any method of de-matting. It is a good idea to use baby-safe cornstarch powder or a detangling powder specifically made for cats.  

Also, do not pull your baby’s hair during the process. It is painful and might cause injuries on the skin.

Be Cautious with the Clumps

If the clumps are too stubborn, you might get tempted to cut them out with a pair of scissor.

Not a good idea.

Unless you are trained in surgeries, do not even attempt to bring a pair of scissors near your baby’s fur. Mats are often formed too close to the skin. Many parents end up causing an incision and it is terribly painful for the baby.

Moreover, don’t attempt to groom your cat when it’s not ready for it. If it is resisting a lot, the movement might just make the problem worse.

Related Question

Which cat breed is the most susceptible to fur clumps?

The furrier the cat, the higher the chances of clumps in the fur. It is why these clumps or mats are a common problem in breeds like Persian cats and Maine Coons. Birmin and Angoras are also quite susceptible to fur clumps.

Why are some cats too lazy to groom?

While most cats are fastidious groomers, they might get lazy due to age, weight, or an underlying health issue like arthritis. Sometimes cats also stop grooming when they are grieving or depressed.

Can I cut the clumps on my cat’s fur?

No, there are better ways to get rid of mats in your cat’s fur. Cutting the clumps is a risky process and should only be the last resort, that too at the hands of an expert cat groomer or a vet.

Can diet cause clumps in my cat’s fur?

It is not entirely proven but may can parents believe that switching to we cat food helped them with mats in their cat fur. Since clumps are most likely to form in dry, rough hair, diet rich in fatty acids might help as well.


While you cannot entirely control the problems, regular grooming and brushing can help your prevent clumps from forming in your cat’s fur. If you feel your cat is not grooming itself like it used to, may be it is a good time to visit a vet.


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