As robust as their independent personalities seem to be, our furry little friends do not like change. Having a haircut or a trim can leave them feeling a little invaded, especially if they don’t take kindly to the grooming process and/or find it traumatic.

Senior cat is resting

The severest form of a haircut to give a cat is to shave their fur. This can lead to feelings of intense vulnerability and even subsequent health problems. There are some acceptable reasons for shaving a cat’s fur, however, doing it purely to alter the way they look is considered cruel, as it can certainly cause immediate and, in some cases, ongoing stress for them.

 

What are some acceptable reasons for shaving a cat?

The most common, acceptable reasons to consider shaving a cat are:

• Wounds or skin diseases
• Matted fur
• Shedding
• Grooming challenges with obese or senior cats

Given that, there are some circumstances in which it is acceptable to shave a cat, and there are some pros and cons to consider.

 

Advantages of shaving a cat

 

  • Helps to keep an affected area clean - Shaving away the surrounding fur can be an efficient way of keeping a wound clean and makes applying medication to the area much easier.

  • Removes heavily matted fur - It can be necessary to remove heavily matted fur, and shaving it off is the most effective option. Less severe matting can be carefully combed out with a bit of patience and a gentle touch.

  • Solves recurrent hairball issues - Hairballs can create problematic intestinal blockages, and cats that either spend too much time grooming or shed too much fur may need some help to prevent what could be a life-threatening condition.

  • Helps to manage excessive shedding - Cats shed their fur significantly twice a year, and whilst their self-grooming helps to keep all the loose fur at bay, it still spreads throughout the house. If it’s excessive, it may be reasonable to consider shaving their fur when shedding time comes.

  • Supports obese or senior cats - grooming can become quite difficult as cats age or if they are unwell or obese, and shaving can be the best way to counter these challenges.

 

Disadvantages of shaving a cat

 

  • It can be traumatizing - While it may seem that they would be relieved, shaving your cat can be a very traumatizing and stressful experience for them, especially if they are unfamiliar with it and/or with whoever does the grooming. It’s even possible that it could lead to longer term issues such as depression and anxiety and behaviors such as hiding away a lot more, so it’s important to have a very good reason for doing it.

  • It increases the chance of them overheating - It may seem counter-intuitive, but in fact, even at the height of a red, hot summer, shaving a cat’s fur can increase their chance of overheating. Their fur plays an important part in regulating the body temperature, trapping cool air in, and keeping it close to their bodies. It also helps them to stay warm in the cold weather. If you have shaved your cat, it may be a good idea to invest in a cat cave made from felt that will help regulate your cat’s temperature as she rests or sleeps.

  • It removes the protection for their skin - A cat’s fur protects their skin from the harsh ultraviolet radiation of the sun and other elements. Once shaved, a cat’s skin can become prone to sunburns and other skin issues. It also increases the chances of some injuries without the layer of protective fur. In extreme cases, cats can even develop skin cancer when exposed to too many UV rays.

 

 

How to successfully shave a cat

It can be a much harder exercise to shave a cat at home, but if you need to save your pennies and/or prefer to try it for yourself, here are some important things to consider:

 

  • Get your supplies ready first - use a high-quality hair clipper that is well charged, as well as a pet brush, towels, and rubber gloves.

  • Select the right location - It’s best to choose a room without a carpet for obvious reasons. It can also help to choose a surface that is a good height for you, as a table or countertop.

  • Get someone to help you - it can be very difficult to do this alone, so ideally, choose someone to help you, preferably someone that your cat is familiar and comfortable with

  • Get kitty comfy - it’s essential that they feel calm and comfortable - even use some treats or pheromones to help keep them feeling calm.

  • Brush your cat - before you start shaving, remove any dirt and debris from their coat with a comb - smooth fur is easier to shave.

 

Shaving tips:

 

  • Start at the top - begin at the top of their body and work your way towards the base of the tail, shaving in the direction of the hair.

  • Leave the tail - or as much of it as you can - it’s important to leave the tip, but if they feel uncomfortable, leave the whole thing unshaved.

  • Keep their skin taut - a cat’s skin is very flexible and can easily gather under a trimmer's blades, so it’s important to keep their skin held tautly.

  • Blend their mane - you may have to try extra hard to keep your cat calm when shaving around their heads - it can help to backcomb their mane and shave all sides to the top of the neck.

  • Don’t get too close - You must never shave their fur shorter than 1 inch so that you can preserve some of their protection against the elements. It can also prevent them from developing skin problems.

So long as the grooming process is done professionally and effectively, it is likely that you won’t see any adverse behavioral reactions after shaving your cat, especially if you are relieving them from discomfort, such as from painful matting, etc. This also depends upon your cat’s temperament, though, so you may know best how well they are likely to tolerate such a big change.

 

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