Can you shave a cat? Well, just like a lot of things concerning our feline companions, there just seems to be no single answer to this question. It’s simply complicated.
Some would say, “yes” as long as it’s done professionally, while some would say “no” because a cat’s fur allows him to remain warm during winter and cool during summer.
Having said these things, it’s not really bad to shave your cat, but he doesn’t need it. Nonetheless, there are special instances when it is necessary to shave such as before surgery, if your cat has extremely matted fur, or if you are fighting a bad flea infestation.
To make this article as comprehensive as possible without being biased for or against one side, we’ll try to enumerate the advantages and disadvantages of shaving cats, and hopefully, you can figure out which side of this issue would benefit your feline companion more.
Can You Shave a Cat? Is It Cruel?
Although shaving a cat isn't often necessary, this can make life easier for your cat a bit if done safely by a professional groomer. However, sometimes shaving is prohibited. For instance, you should never shave cats when their behavior is harmful.
Aggressive cats during the grooming process may move uncontrollably to the point where they can endure a cut. And not only that, but they may also cause injury to the cat groomer.
Moreover, cats if groomed too much can overheat or have breathing problems. It is also not humane to put cats under excessive stress unless it is indicated for their health and safety.
If your cat has severely matted fur, your vet may recommend sedation done at his clinic. Remember that this should only be done by a licensed veterinarian in a fully-equipped veterinary clinic.
Why Do Cats Need Fur?
A cat’s fur is there for a multitude of reasons. So, if you are planning to shave your cat for aesthetic reasons, or just because it’s cute and fashionable, we strongly suggest that you consider the risks carefully and decide whether it’s worth the prize for looking cool.
And besides, cats are already cute no matter what. So, why would you put their safety at risk for them to look adorable? As they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Moreover, a cat’s body is designed to survive outdoors. Hence, messing with their body’s natural composition when not needed can have repercussions.
Apparently, cats, especially outdoor cats, strays, and feral cats need their fur to survive and thrive whilst exposed to the elements in their living environment. Here are the primary reasons why cats need their fur:
To Control Body Temperature
Whether you believe it or not, cat fur can keep them cool even during the hot summer days. This is possible because their fur insulates their body by trapping cool air, thus, keeping their body cold amidst the hot weather. And apparently, their thick, and long hair can keep them warm during winter.
To Serve as Protection from Harmful UV Rays
Unlike us, humans, cats don’t apply sunscreen that can protect them from harmful UV rays. However, they do have their fur.
This fluffy layer that sits on a cat’s skin deflects heat, which immediately makes direct sunlight exposure more comfortable and bearable.
Their fur also protects their thin skin from getting burned, especially when they are exposed for a long time under the sun.
To Act as a Water-Resistant Barrier
If you’ve tried bathing your cat, which you probably had, you might have noticed that the water simply drips off your cat’s coat unless, of course, you brush your cat’s hair with your hands to allow the water to penetrate his skin. Well, this is just a testament to their hair’s water-resistant feature.
Also, the oil that cats release through their fur provides additional water resistance, which is one of the reasons why you should avoid bathing your cat unless he is particularly dirty.
To Protect Them from Superficial Injuries
Considering the abovementioned reasons why a cat needs their fur, it’s safe to say that cats with thicker fur have better protection.
Sadly, we can’t say the same thing for bald cats, like Sphynx. This is also why it’s common to see a bald cat owner dressing up his feline companion – not for fashion, but protection.
Also, knowing a cat’s curious and explorative nature, it’s better to keep their fur as is, unless they really need to be shaved.
Again, cats love to squeeze themselves in holes and narrow openings, and their fur can provide a protective layer against scrapes, cuts, and even thorns.
Consequently, this helps prevent infection brought about by the open lesions, which could then lead to discomfort, itchiness, scarring, and sensitivity.
Also, if cats have an existing wound, their fur can protect it from further damage and infection by reducing its exposure to the elements that may aggravate or infect it.
To Relay a Message
Aside from their tail, and their torso, cats also use their fur to convey a message. When they are threatened, startled, or alarmed, we can see their fur stand up (also called “hackles” or piloerection) along with other non-verbal cues such as the arching of their back, and puffing up of their tails.
8 Things to Consider Before Shaving a Cat
Shedding can be annoying at times, to the point that some pet owners prepare for it by shaving their cat during the hottest months of the year, which is also the shedding season, or the time when cats shed hair the most. But, is shaving the only solution to these shedding problems?
If you are still unsure whether to shave your cat or not, you might want to consider the following facts first before you book your cat’s grooming schedule:
There are more effective ways to deal with shedding.
Cats shed their hair all year round, and short-haired cats shed as much as long haired felines. It’s just that shedding is more visible with the latter considering the length of their hair and the amount of hair that they can shed. Nonetheless, shedding is natural, and it’s even a sign of a healthy cat.
While most cat owners think that shaving is the best way to control shedding, it’s not totally true. There are less drastic ways to handle the situation.
Brushing your cat’s hair daily will significantly help reduce the amount of hair that lands on your clothing and furniture.
Also, switching your pet to a high-protein diet that is packed with omega fatty acids can help promote skin and coat health, and ultimately reduce shedding even during summer.
Your cat isn’t bothered by the summer heat.
As mentioned earlier, cat hair acts as their natural, built-in insulator that keeps them cold during summer, and hot during winter.
And aside from this, cats are also smart about moving to shaded areas to cool and protect themselves from direct sunlight. What’s more important during summer is to keep your cat hydrated with fresh water.
If you notice signs of overheating, which include excessive panting, difficulty of breathing, lethargy, stumbling gait, drooling, elevated heart rate, and vomiting, consult your veterinarian right away.
There are easier ways to remove and prevent mats.
Long-haired cats are more prone to having matted fur than short-haired ones. These mats appear as a result of infrequent grooming either by your cat or by yourself, his cat parent.
So, if you have a long-haired cat, dedicate a few minutes of your time a day to brush your fur baby’s hair. This won’t just help reduce shedding and mats, but can also serve as your bonding time.
Another potential reason why cats develop mats is feline obesity, where they can no longer reach certain parts of their body while grooming.
Over time, painful mats can develop, which can cause discomfort and even sores underneath. So, to prevent this, it helps to put your cat on a high-protein diet, and have regular exercise.
Moreover, most of the time, mats can be removed by simply brushing your cat’s hair with a comb or with your hands.
If it’s not possible, bring your cat to a professional groomer or veterinarian. Unless you are trained on how to properly shave cats, it’s best to leave the task to the professionals.
Your cat doesn’t need to sport a lion cut.
Professional groomers may transform your cat into an adorable lion, but this comes with high risks. With a lion cut, your cat is shaved down to his skin, so the risk of cutting or injuring his thin skin with the clippers is higher.
Additionally, since your cat loses a huge amount of hair, his body’s natural protection and insulator are also compromised.
Your cat’s hair may never grow back.
It is crucial to know that shaving your cat regularly can alter the texture and color of his hair. Also, if your cat has certain health problems, there’s a chance that his hair may never grow back after being shaved.
Now, if you’ve made up your mind to have your cat shaved, here are some things that you need to remember:
- Determine what needs shaving.
Suppose you only want to shave matted hairs, aren’t you worried to see your cat patchy? Or will the shaving process to achieve a certain look be too stressful for your cat?
- Hire a professional cat groomer.
You may have to spend extra, but this is the best and safest way to go, especially if you are not trained to properly handle an animal clipper. Professional groomers are less likely to nick your cat, and they are also trained on how to calm cats during the grooming process.
- Check with your veterinarian.
Before you decide to shave your cat by yourself or with the help of a professional groomer, it’s still advisable to consult with your vet first.
If your cat has extremely tangled or matted hair, he may advise removing it at the clinic, instead. Your vet may also give you recommendations for groomers, or tools if you decide to do it at home.
6 Reasons to Trim a Cat’s Coat
While shaving, or even trimming a cat can cause a wealth of health and safety issues, there are actually logical reasons why it can benefit a cat, too. Below are some common reasons where trimming a cat can be great for them and their owners.
- Shaving reduces shedding.
While we already mentioned that regularly brushing your cat’s hair, as well as putting him on a high-protein diet can help reduce shedding, we can’t also deny the fact that shaving is an instant solution to this problem, especially during its season. Apparently, once your cat has been shaved, there is not much hair to fall out, even when it is shedding season. However, as we’ve mentioned many times, it’s best to let the professional groomers do this for you.
- Shaving helps remove extremely matted hair.
Matting is a more common issue among long-haired cats. So, if your cat is obese with natural long hair, it’s for his best interest to have his hair shaved to prevent or to deal with matting instantly.
Overweight and senior cats can have trouble grooming themselves, so, matting can be a common issue with them, too, even if their hair isn’t that long. Sometimes pet owners also fail to brush their cat’s hair regularly, which can supposedly help prevent their cat’s fur from getting extremely matted.
- Shaving helps deal with hairballs.
Cats that suffer from frequent hairballs will hugely benefit from getting shaved. The less hair a cat has, the lesser hair can end up in his digestive tract, which can cause trouble.
- Shaving helps get rid of pesky pests and parasites.
If you are dealing with parasites, lice, ticks, mites, and/or flea infestations, shaving your cat’s hair can help. While it won’t totally eradicate these annoying pests, shaving does help in eliminating those that cling or crawl on your cat’s matted hair.
Shaving also makes it easier for you to monitor if they reappear, and it also makes it easier to apply the topical medication prescribed by your vet.
- Shaving can help treat skin conditions.
If your cat needs a medicated bath to treat mites or certain skin problems, shaving can help make the treatment more effective.
The common skin problems in cats can be caused by allergies or conditions they were born of, and shaving can help in the more efficient administration and absorption of the prescribed medications.
- Shaving can give access to certain areas.
Cats with certain medical conditions such as cancer or internal growth are more likely to need shaving down to their skin to access the affected area/s.
Shaving a cat’s hair during these instances can help the vet in properly assessing the problem. If surgical intervention is needed, a cat will also be shaved to give better view and access for the vet, and to prevent infection or cross-contamination.
Disadvantages of Shaving Cats
Shaving has several benefits to cats, but it also has its fair share of disadvantages, such as the following:
- Shaving does not keep your cat cool in summer.
Outside the issue of shedding, many cat owners would shave their cats during summer to prevent overheating and to help their cat’s bodies cool. However, in reality, bald cats or cats with less hair in their body fare much worse during hot weather conditions.
Cats don’t have the same kind of skin that we humans, do. And they don’t sweat the same way we do. Hence, they need their fur to serve as protection against the heat.
Additionally, cats with lesser hair or are bald, are more prone to skin damage due to sun exposure or exposure to UV rays. Other issues that can be caused by shaving are scars or sensitive skin, patches, ingrown hairs, and sunburns.
If you are tempted to shave your cat’s hair due to the summer heat, remember that cats are intelligent enough to find ways to cool themselves.
They will most likely find shaded areas, reduce physical activity, shed more hair, and drink more water. Hence, as a cat owner, you can help by providing them with fresh, clean water all the time, and by giving them several shaded areas inside their room or your house.
- Shaving can expose wounds or injuries.
If your cat has an existing wound or injury, shaving can expose the affected area and make it more vulnerable to the outside elements. So, hot water, hot air, or anything contaminated can now easily invade or infect the exposed wound/injury.
- Shaving can remove natural oils from the skin.
Your cat’s skin produces natural oils that can protect him from parasites, keep his skin moist, and protect him against bacteria and harmful UV rays.
Once you shave your cat’s hair, you can alter the presence and production of these natural oils. As a result, your cat can experience itching problems, clogged pores, and acne. Allergies and skin irritations will also be magnified.
- Shaving can scare cats.
Cats are extremely sensitive, and can easily be startled or bothered by a sudden noise, sudden change in their routine, and unfamiliar things.
So, you can only imagine what your cat is going through once he hears the loud noise from the razor. Shaving can cause trauma to some cats, and it might even affect their trust in anyone, even their pet parents.
- Shaved hairs may never grow back in some cases.
Each time you shave your cat’s hair, you run the risk of him developing ingrown hairs and the possibility that his hairs will never grow back.
It will also take time for your cat to grow his hair to the same thickness since the pattern of hair growth has already been disrupted.
There are also instances when a cat’s hair may never go back. While shaving isn’t necessarily the direct cause, it sets off a chain reaction.
Cats may experience underlying health issues or might have certain risk factors such as alopecia, old age, genetics, and skin allergies that are exposed after a shave.
So, can you shave your cat’s hair? Apparently, yes, you can, but again, it’s not always necessary. If you are simply concerned that your feline buddy will be more comfortable during the hot season with a new shave, then, we suggest that you consider other options.
As mentioned earlier, you can provide shaded areas inside your house, and provide clean water all day. Perhaps, you may even consider putting air conditioning in your cat’s room, or you can simply let him sleep with you.
If you feel like your cat may benefit from a shave, feel free to consult your veterinarian. He can give you his go signal, as well as recommendations for professional groomers in your area. And no matter what, just keep your hands off the clippers if you are not confident and trained in handling them.
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