WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER SHAVE YOUR CAT
Two days ago, I came across a post on one of the Facebook groups I’m a member of. The group is called Purebred Maine Coon Lovers (I am in no way saying the people in charge of the group agree or support this post, simply that it’s on their group). This post, and the reception it received, truly shocked me. It was about a longhaired cat who had been, according to the owner “groomed”. However, I took a look at the photos only to see he had not been groomed. He had been SHAVED into a “lion cut”. Not only that, the owner said she does this twice a year. (For future reference, I asked and it turns out this cat live 100% indoors). I looked through the comments and there were so many people celebrating what this owner had done. Several even said they do the same things to their cats.
This is the post (I have cut off the owner’s name for privacy):
Now I don’t normally feel the need to comment on things. I usually take note and move on. But, up to now, something has never truly baffled me to this level. I won’t lie to ya’ll. I was not purposefully rude, but I also was not the sweetest when I commented on this post. I laid the facts bare. Clear and simple. This is cruel. It is damaging physically and psychologically. I tried to ask questions to get an idea of the reasoning behind doing this. These were the main reasons I came across:
It’s to keep them cooler in the summer.
They get matts everyday even with grooming.
My cat won’t allow me to groom them.
The cat doesn’t groom itself.
My cat sheds a lot in the summer.
It looks cool.
I will address each of these statements individually. At the end, I will talk about the only reasons to possibly shave your cat. In none of them is a full shave or lion cut necessary.
TO KEEP THEM COOLER IN THE SUMMER
Shaving in no way keeps cats, or dogs for that matter, cooler in the summer. Their fur is their natural temperature regulator. It keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It absorbs the heat and prevents their body from overheating. Without it, they will overheat much more quickly. In the winter, the fur helps insulate them and keeps their body heat from escaping. Imagine that the fur is like a thermos cup. It is a barrier that helps to keep their internal temperature from being affected by external temperature. Also, if the cat lives indoors, I don’t see why temperature would even be a reason for concern or an excuse to shave the cat. I would like to share with you guys the following picture. It was taken by Pretty Paws Pet Grooming. This is the link to their account: https://www.facebook.com/PrettyPaws97141 It’s a thermal image of a Golden Retriever shaved into a lion cut. It speaks for itself. The same thing happens to cats when they are shaved.
THEY GET MATTS EVEN WITH EVERDAY GROOMING
I have 12 Maine Coons. I have two (Ares and Nyx) that must be combed daily due to their coat texture. It is very cottony. The rest can be fine with every other day combing or even just twice a week. However, I prefer to groom them all daily just in case. Sure there is the occasional matt in the pants or armpitts. They are always pretty small so I usually don’t bother trying to comb them out unless it’s right before a show. It’s not worth the stress for me or the cat. I carefully cut it out and move on. I personally do not believe it is possible for a cat to get to the point that you have to shave their entire body if you are regularly grooming them.
THEY WON’T ALLOW ME TO GROOM THEM
I truly smypathize with this situation. Often this situation occurs when the cat was a stray, came from a shelter, or was not properly socialized by the breeder or owner. However, there are other options besides shaving the entire cat. My top suggestions for a cat that is very adverse to grooming and often develops matts is to look for a vet that can perform a sedated groom. Take them regularly. They can cut out those particular matts for you. If the cat is not too bad, look for a professional groomer who is experienced with cats. They can also cut the matts. In neither instance should it be necessary to shave the whole cat.
THEY DON’T GROOM THEMSELVES
Almost no longhair cat is able to completely groom every inch of themselves with the tiny tongue they are provided. That is why we, as their owners, must supplement with consistent grooming. I’m sure most individuals who are using this as their reason do not have their eyes on their cat all day everyday. How do they know the cat isn’t doing it’s best to groom itself. Even if it isn’t, is that a reason to punish the poor cat with shaving? Just because there are lots of matts doesn’t mean the cat isn’t grooming itself. It means you aren’t grooming the cat. I would also like to mention that as cats get older, they become less mobile. It then falls almost 100% on the owner’s shoulders to keep them groomed. That is the responsibility of a pet owner.
THEY SHED A LOT IN THE SUMMER
This is one of the reasons that bothers me the most. I found a lady in the comments who shaved her entire cat (neck to almost the entire tail) because her undercoat is “very thick on her back”. She said “she can’t get it all out in the summer”. I’m not one to judge people, but I find this completely ridiculous. There are so many brushes and tools to help thin the undercoat. There are also groomers that will do it for you. Whenever my Golden Retriever is dropping his coat in the summer and shedding like crazy, I take him to the groomer for a deshedding. They use a Furminator to pull the loose fur free. I believe they also make them for cats. I never have him shaved though. We live in Texas. Can you imagine the sunburn he would get?
IT LOOKS COOL
I did not bother to address such reasons in the comments as I knew I wouldn’t be able to contain my frustration. This is the most selfish reason besides just not wanting to groom your cat. These are living creatures not toys. Their care should not be decided based on whether something looks cool or not. It should be about what’s best for them. Pesonally, I think it looks sad.
As the nail in the coffin, shaving your cat can cause serious psychological damage. Their fur doesn’t only protect them from temperature. If they go or live outside, it protects them from the sun, biting insects, thorny plants, other cats, and the rain/wet weather. It also assists with sensory input. Every inch of their fur is highly sensitive and assists them with knowing where they can fit and where they can’t. They know instinctively how important their fur is to their survival. Without it, they usually feel extremely vulnerable and stressed.
REASONS TO SHAVE CERTAIN AREAS
There are three reasons that may necessitate shaving. None of them should almost ever require a full shave or lions cut.
1.) The cat is very matted – Even in this case, only the areas that are matted should be cut. There is absolutely no reason to shave the entire cat. This problem can be avoided with regular grooming.
2.) In preparation for surgery – For hygiene reasons and to prevent infection, operation sites must be shaved. Again, should not require the entire cat or a lions cut.
3.) To treat severe skin conditions – Sometimes cats can develop skin complications just like dogs. A vet might shave those particular areas to allow proper treatment. This should not require a full body shave unless the severe condition affects the entire body.
In the end, I wonder, why take on the responsibility of a longhair cat if you are not prepared to care for it properly. They MUST be groomed. Shaving is not grooming. Shaving is not a substitute for grooming. Shaving is an escape from the responsibility of grooming. I will be adding a clause to my contract that my kittens are not to be shaved unless there is a medical reason and I am notified. I will not allow the precious babies I send out into the world to be treated this way. The wellfare of the cats is what matters to me.