Is your feline friend suddenly looking a little greasy? Are you noticing clumps or mats forming in her fur? Excessive oil production and fur matting are common cat hair problems that can have several underlying causes. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the main reasons for oily, clumpy cat fur and provide tips to restore your cat’s coat to its normal, healthy condition.
What Causes Oily, Clumping Fur in Cats?
An oily, clumped coat happens when your cat is producing too much sebum. Sebum is the natural skin oil that keeps a cat’s hair conditioned and protected. But when overproduced, it leaves the fur greasy and prone to sticking together in thick clumps or tangles.
Here are some of the most common culprits behind oily, matted cat hair:
Cheap, low-quality cat foods packed with carbs and fillers can lead to excessive sebum production and shedding. These foods lack the proper protein and fatty acids that cats need for skin and coat health.
Tip: Feed a high-protein, low-carb diet. Look for foods featuring meat as the first ingredient. Fish, chicken, turkey, and eggs are excellent sources of protein.
Just like humans, cats can develop allergies to foods and environmental triggers like pollen or dust mites. Allergies cause skin irritation and overgrooming, leading to increased dander and sebum.
Tip: Try an elimination diet or have allergy testing done to identify the offender. Keep your home clean and dust-free.
Skin issues like flea allergy dermatitis, seborrhea, fungal infections and parasites can stimulate excess oiliness and clumping. Skin irritation leads to overgrooming behaviors.
Tip: Have your vet examine your cat’s skin under a Wood’s lamp to check for ringworm, yeast overgrowth and other issues. Treat any infections found.
Thyroid disorders, diabetes, Cushing’s disease and reproductive hormone problems may cause coat changes like oiliness and matting in cats. The hormonal disruptions throw off the skin’s oil regulation.
Tip: Request bloodwork to check your cat’s thyroid, glucose, and hormone levels. Treatment may involve medication, supplements or surgery.
Just like humans, anxious and stressed cats are prone to overgrooming behaviors like licking, chewing, or biting at their fur. This stimulates increased sebum production, leading to oily clumps.
Tip: Try to identify and remove stressors from your cat’s environment. Provide enrichment through toys, cat towers and daily playtime. Consider calming supplements.
Overweight and obese cats often struggle to properly groom themselves due to lack of flexibility and energy. This allows dead hair and oils to build up on the skin and coat.
Tip: Help your overweight cat slim down through portion-controlled feeding, increased exercise and playtime, and vet-approved weight loss food.
As cats shed and replace their coats seasonally, it’s normal for some oiliness and loose clumps of fur to appear. But excessive grease and matting is not normal.
Tip: Brush your cat regularly to control normal shedding. Seek vet advice if oiliness and clumping persists.
How To Handle Oily, Clumping Fur in Cats
If your cat is suddenly looking greasy or matted, don’t ignore it – take steps to restore the health of her skin and coat. Here are tips to effectively handle oily, clumped cat fur:
Regular brushing with a stainless steel comb is key. Gently work out mats and distribute the coat’s natural oils. Pay extra attention to thick-haired regions prone to tangles. Your cat will love the extra brushing attention too!
Tip: Choose a brush suited for your cat’s coat length – slicker brush for short hair, de-matting tool for long hair. Brush problem areas first. Start at the extremities and work towards the body.
Bathe cats every 4-6 weeks or more frequently if needed. Use a moisturizing cat shampoo and lukewarm water. Thoroughly rinse out all soap residue. Avoid over-bathing, as this can cause dry, itchy skin.
Tip: Focus shampoo on greasy areas like the back, base of tail and belly. For matted clumps, saturate with shampoo and gently work apart with fingers.
Groom With Wipes
For quick touch-ups between baths, grooming wipes can lift dirt and distribute oils. Look for mild wipes with soothing ingredients like oatmeal, coconut oil or aloe vera. Avoid scented and alcohol-based products which may irritate skin.
Tip: Focus on paws, face and rear end. Wipes are great for senior or disabled cats who won’t tolerate bathing.
Correct Underlying Issues
Treat any allergies, skin conditions, hormonal disorders or other problems contributing to coat issues. This will address the root cause instead of just temporarily managing symptoms.
Tip: Follow your vet’s treatment plan. Administer any prescribed medications, dietary changes or supplements. Schedule follow-ups to monitor progress.
Improve Grooming Access
If obesity or mobility issues are preventing proper grooming, look for ways to make things easier for your cat. Consider stairs, ramps and elevated food/litter boxes. Place mats around your home for traction and comfort.
Tip: Set up food and water bowls in easy to access areas. Help obese cats slim down through vet-supervised weight loss plans. Provide daily assisted grooming.
Some supplements support skin and coat health from the inside out. Always check with your vet before starting any supplements to ensure safety and proper dosing.
- Omega fatty acids – Found in fish oil and krill oil supplements. Reduce inflammation and skin irritation.
- Vitamin E – Has antioxidant properties to nourish skin. Look for water-soluble forms.
- Vitamin C – Helps with collagen production and healing. Use an esterified form suitable for cats.
- B-complex vitamins – Assist with skin cell growth and coat pigmentation. Especially helpful for stress relief.
Tip: Liquid supplements are best absorbed and tolerated. Salmon or pollock oil provide omega fatty acids. Follow dosing directions carefully.
See Your Vet
If your cat’s coat doesn’t improve with the above home care after several weeks, it’s time to seek professional help. Schedule a veterinary exam to diagnose and treat any underlying disease.
Tip: Request lab tests like skin scrapings, bloodwork and urinalysis tailored to your cat’s symptoms. Bring photos of any skin issues. Provide a thorough history of the problem and treatments attempted. Follow all of your vet’s care recommendations.
Grooming Tips for Oily, Clumping Cat Fur
Caring for a cat with oily, matted fur takes patience and persistence. But with a proper grooming routine, you can get your cat’s coat looking healthy again. Here are some helpful grooming tips:
- Use a stainless steel comb – Unlike brushes, combs can detangle and remove mats without breaking or pulling fur. Work slowly and gently.
- Try corn starch – For minor clumps, sprinkle corn starch or dry shampoo on the fur and brush out. It soaks up excess oil and releases tangles.
- Go with the fur growth – Always comb in the direction the fur naturally grows to avoid irritation. Comb against growth only for severe mats.
- Loosen mat edges first – Before tackling a stubborn mat, loosen the perimeter with your fingers or a seam ripper so it’s easier to work out.
- Avoid fur breakage – Never forcefully yank on clumps or tangles – this will rip out fur. Patience and gentle perseverance is key.
- Check for skin injuries – Part the fur to check for any wounds, rashes or sores under matted areas. Treat any skin issues found.
- Use detangling spray – A leave-in conditioning spray with ingredients like aloe, panthenol, and jojoba oil can help comb slide through fur. Avoid alcohol-based products.
- Try massage – Rub a cat-safe oil like coconut onto problem spots to loosen debris and evenly distribute natural oils before brushing.
- Mist with water – For extremely stubborn mats, lightly misting the area with water can help loosen the fur before combing out.
- Break up sessions – For matted cats, stick to short 5-10 minute grooming sessions so not to frustrate you or your cat. Better a little progress daily than fighting an epic battle!
With some detective work and diligent grooming care, you can get your cat’s coat back to optimal condition. But if problems persist or appear severe, always consult your veterinarian to address underlying causes. With combined effort, your cat will be looking sleek, shiny and mat-free once again!