Mats are unhealthy and, if they form, shouldn’t be allowed to get bigger. Sores can develop beneath the mats, or they can pinch the skin causing great discomfort.
You don’t need to run to a professional groomer if your cat tends to mat. With a regular grooming regime, most longhaired cats can be cared for and kept mat-free right at home.
Prevention is the key in keeping your cat’s fur healthy. Julie, a groomer, advises owners of longhaired cats to "brush or comb your cat once a day." Use a slicker brush (the kind with long, thin bent pins), which you can get at almost any pet supply store. Slicker brushes work best on longhaired cats. Brush your longhaired kitty every day, working gently down to the skin.
Combs with metal teeth and dematting sprays (available at any pet supply store) can be used to work out small mats soon after they develop. But if mats become too large to easily comb out, it is best to bring your cat to an experienced groomer and have the mats shaved off.
Start your new kitten off right by acclimating her to a daily regime of brushing and combing. Keep the session short at first, and work up to longer ones. If you make the experience a pleasant one by being gentle and talking softly, your kitten will learn to look forward to a daily brushing, and might even come running when you pull the brush out.
Most cats like the attention of being brushed even if they aren’t used to it, but some cats might shy from the experience. For that, Julie offers this advice: "If you can, get someone to help you." Have one person gently hold the scruff of the cat’s neck while you softly brush the coat and speak soothingly. Offer treats and keep the sessions short. Again, make it pleasant. Eventually even a cat who is not acclimated to grooming may learn to love it.