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VetInternist
VetInternist, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
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Experience:  Staff Internist and Medical Director
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why are my old cats getting matted fur is there anything i

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why are my old cats getting matted fur? is there anything i should feed them to keep their hair from getting matted?
Matted fur is usually caused by poor grooming habits. Poor grooming is a common sign that there is a problem with a cat's health. It can also be due to changes in routine, the addition or loss of an animal or family member, or the neighbor's new dog that barks all the time.

You can brush your cats to improve their haircoats, but I would be more concerned that there is an underlying problem affecting your cats' moods and their ability to groom themselves. It wouldn't be a bad idea to have your veterinarian do a geriatric work-up to make sure everything is in order. If everything comes back normal, there may be something in their daily routine that is causing them some agitation.

Dr. Shadwick
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
both cats are very old - 19 and 20. the 20 year old has kidney disease. could that be the issue? so is there anything dietary we can do to add oil to their diet to perhaps keep their fur from matting?
Kidney disease is a common disease associated with poor grooming habits. Unfortunately there aren't any good medical treatment options for matted fur because the problem is a physical one, not a direct medical problem. Cats need to tend to their haricoats by cleaning themselves; it is like bathing for people. There isn't a drug in the world that will keep you clean and fresh if you don't shower or bathe regularly. The same is true for cats.

Dr. Shadwick
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
so other than going to the vet, there is nothing else we should do except attempt to groom the cats? Because we did not changetheir diet in any way and nothing else has changed either.
It may be that their disease is progressing and they aren't feeling very well. You may not have changed anything, but they have gotten older and at least one of your cats is suffering from kidney disease. Kidney disease in cats is almost always progressive and if cats live long enough almost all of them will develop some level of kidney disfunction. It can be sad and frustrating to not be able to do anything for them, but this is often the way end-stage kidney disease works. We try to keep them drinking and eating the best we can. Sometimes we can pull them out of a crisis with fluid therapy and buy them some more time, and other times we can't. We have to play it by ear and see how things progress.

I do think it would be good to have your vet look at your cats. It will give us an idea about where we stand and what options we have.

Dr. Shadwick
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
one last thing - the one who has the worst matting problem eats and drinks like a horse...his appetite never ends...which we understand is part of the kidney disease. The time to really worry is when he stops eating or drinking, yes?
Yes, decreased drinking and/or eating can be a very bad sign in a cat with renal failure. If these things should happen, you should be concerned.

Dr. Shadwick
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
ok, one last question and I will pay for it. And no offense meant by it, but why take him to a vet then? We already know he has kidney disease, he's eating and drinking...what can a vet do to help him? Why bother?
The reason to see a veterinarian would be to find a reason for the change in behavior. Your one cat has kidney disease (I assume we haven't had a diagnosis for the other cat) and they were both grooming normally, now they aren't. By going to the vet we may find a reason why there was a change. If you are comfortable with the diagnosis of kidney disease and don't need to know anything else as long as the cats are eating and drinking appropriately (albeit more than a normal cat), then taking them to the vet is not necessary. The risk that you run is missing something that we could treat. At this stage of the game I don't know how important that is to you. All my job is, is to recommend; your job is to consider the recommendations and decide what is best for you and your cat. There are often times where there is no right or wrong decision to make.

I hope this helps.

Dr. Shadwick

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