There are a number of reasons why people consider shaving their cats. The selfless reasons include:
Because it’s hot outside, and you feel badly for your cat
Because your cat’s fur is becoming increasingly matted
There’s also a less-than-selfless reason why people ponder shaving their cats, and that would be to end the losing war against cat shedding. Of course, a true PR guy or gal could spin this last reason into something selfless such as: if my cat didn’t shed so much, I’d be able to pick her up more often, without worrying about ruining my clothes.
No matter what reason you have for contemplating a feline buzz cut, you’ll find no shortage of pro-shavers, and anti-shavers out there. So, who’s right? Is shaving your cat a bad thing, or will it make your life, and theirs, better?
People who want to shave their cats to help them keep cool have their heart in the right place, but are perhaps lacking in some information. A pet’s coat (be it a cat, or dog) is designed to actually keep them cool during warmer weather. By shaving a cat, you’re tampering with the animal’s built-in temperature regulation system, which has been working fine long before razors were invented.
Besides, cats are pretty mobile creatures. If they’re hot, they’ll move to a shadier spot.
Matted fur can be painful, and can increase irritation and infection. Matted fur often occurs when the undercoat of a cat’s fur loosens from the skin, but is not fully removed (during, for example, brushing or self-cleaning). If your cat has a lot of matted fur, then you may have the urge to shave her, to put her out of her misery.
In fact, if the mats are extremely large, a vet might recommend that those areas be shaved. It’s certainly a better alternative to what other do, which is to use scissors to cut off the mats. Cats have thin skin, and scissors can do terrible, long-term damage.
Smaller mats might be able to be removed on your own, by picking them apart, and then brushing out the area with a comb. Larger mats, however, are more challenging. Here’s where shaving is a potential necessity.
If you decide to shave your cat to get rid of matted hair, remember that it might be really painful to your cat, which is why you shouldn’t do it on your own. It’s best to take your cat to a groomer and/or vet, to see what solutions they have. Your groomer might try to brush out the mats first, before resorting to a shave. Your vet might have to use an anaesthetic if the problem is severe.
If your only reason for wanting to shave your cat is to address matted fur, then prevention is key. Grooming your cat (once a day for long-haired cats, once a week for other cats) can help prevent mattes. But you should also check your cat’s diet. One of the leading causes of mats is a cat’s inability to fully groom herself, because she is overweight. If your cat is a little chubby, and has matted fur, the two issues are likely linked.
You’re sick of cat hair
You’re sick of cat hair? Then why’d you get a cat!? No, no, I won’t judge you. I understand. I have a long-haired cat, and let me tell you, if I’m not on my A-game every day, my house looks like the inside of a pillow.
Anyways, if you want to shave your cat to minimize shedding, then your mind is probably pretty much made up. There are some ways you reduce shedding (actively brushing your cat, checking out their diet), but cats shed (heck, humans shed, too). It’s just a part of life. If you can’t handle the shedding any longer, than you may consider shaving your cat.
In this instance, it’s just a matter of deciding whether shaving your cat has any long-term negative effects.
If your cat is an indoor cat, shaving his fur will have much less effect than if he were an outdoor cat. Fur will keep a cat cool, and protect him from sunburns. If he’s stuck indoors, he doesn’t necessarily need that protection.
However, it can get cool indoors for a shaved cat. If you decide to shave your cat, try to set up a sun-spot for him, so that he can warm up if he gets cool. Also, set up a bed with some warm blankets, again, for him to warm up in.
So, you’ve decided to shave our cat. How should you do it?
The first thing you should know about grooming, is that unless you know what you’re doing, leave it to the professionals. There are a few reasons for this. For starters, you could get hurt. Believe it or not, more cats than you expect actually don’t mind getting trimmed, but most cats have sensitive trigger areas (like their belly) that they react to. Cats, unlike dogs, are more likely to react with a bite, or a scratch, which could cause serious injury.
The other reason you should leave this up to the professionals is because your cat can get hurt, too. Clipper blades can get very hot, very quick, and unless you know what you’re doing, you could burn your cat’s skin. Or, you could cut too close, or be too rough with the clippers.
If you do chose the Do-It-Yourself approach, be sure to:
Wear protective gloves
Take frequent breaks to keep the clipper blades cool
Make this a two-person affair. Shaving your cat by yourself is like parasailing by yourself. You need someone to drive the boat, and you need someone to control your cat
Only use electric clippers
Don’t shave too close to the skin
Accept small victories. If you can only have one patch of fur in one sitting, congratulate yourself. Try round 2 later in the day, or, better yet, tomorrow