Unless your cat is one of the naturally hairless breeds, such as a sphynx, the likelihood is that he has a thick coat of fur. Can you shave his fur? Should you ever shave his fur? Firstly, we need to understand more about your cat’s fur and its purpose.
Why do Cats Have Fur? Cat Fur Serves Many Purposes, Including;
- To keep the cat warm – cat’s fur acts as an extra layer to keep their body insulated and warm, just as we would wear a jumper.
- To keep the cat cool – like a thermos flask, a cat’s fur can keep a cat cool as well as warm! When temperatures get very hot, the layer of air trapped within the coat actually helps to keep the cat cool.
- To keep the cat dry – any surface water on the cat’s coat can be shaken off and dried before reaching the cat’s more sensitive skin.
- To protect the cat’s skin from injuries – a cat’s fur acts as a protective layer to help prevent injuries to the sensitive skin underneath.
- To protect the cat’s skin from sunburn – sunburn can be very painful for cats, and can also lead to certain types of cancer.
- To communicate – for example, an angry or defensive cat will raise their fur to let another cat (or human!) know not to approach.
So, if a Cat’s Fur is so Useful, Why Would You Ever Want to Shave it?
Sometimes, shaving a cat’s fur is a necessity. Cats with wounds and some skin diseases can benefit from being shaved because shaving makes it easier to apply medication to the affected area, and also makes it easier to keep the area clean and prevent infection. For a similar reason, cats often have some of their fur shaves before any surgery.
Cats are naturally fastidious self-groomers and will usually ensure that they keep themselves clean. A combination of self-grooming and brushing by the owner will help to remove shed hair and prevent uncomfortable mats from developing. However, some cats are less able to keep themselves clean and some are less tolerant of being groomed. If you have trouble keeping your cat’s coat mat-free, a professional cat groomer will be able to help. They may be able to trim your cat’s coat so that it is more manageable but still offers your cat the protection it needs.
What about the heat? On hot summer days, would your cat be more comfortable if he was shaved? The answer is… probably not. If your cat is an indoor only cat, they should be able to find somewhere cool enough to rest, away from the direct sun. If your cat ventures outside, they may find it more difficult to find a shady resting place, so on really hot days, it may be worth considering keeping them indoors. On hot days, it is also very important to ensure that your cat has access to cool water. Shaving your cat on a hot day can actually increase the chance of them overheating instead of reducing it, as their body becomes more exposed to the heat and the sun. If you notice your cat panting, vomiting, drooling or showing any other unusual symptoms, they may be overheating and you should seek urgent veterinary treatment.
How to Shave a Cat
If you decide that you do need to shave your cat, how should you actually do it? Carefully!
Cat’s skin is not smooth and your cat is unlikely to sit still while you shave him so shaving will not be an easy task. You could hurt your cat and yourself. There are also sensitive areas, including the ankles, paws, neck, tail and around the bottom, which are better trimmed than shaved. Shaving cats can result in nicks on the skin or ingrown hairs when it begins to grow back, which can result in skin infections and an abnormal coat. It is therefore very important that any shaving is done very carefully, and only when absolutely necessary. Ideally, any shaving should be carried out by a professional cat groomer or qualified veterinary staff.
If you are considering shaving your cat for purely cosmetic reasons, it may be better to consider a different collar or some new toys or bedding.
If you are concerned about your cat’s fur quality, it is more important to ensure that they get good quality nutrition to ensure that they produce enough essential natural oils to keep their coat healthy and that they are groomed regularly to keep their coat mat-free and in good condition.
Can you shave a cat?
Yes, although it is not an easy task and may cause injury to yourself or the cat. It is therefore much safer for you and your feline friend if you ask a veterinary professional or a professional groomer to do it.
Should you ever shave a cat?
In most instances, no, you shouldn’t shave a cat. However, if your cat already has problems with its skin or fur, it may be necessary to shave it. In these instances, you should always consult with your vet to plan the best way to do it. Your vet can also help you take the necessary steps to prevent other problems occurring as a result of your cat being shaved, such as sunburn or further skin conditions, and to prevent any other coat problems occurring in the future.