Shaving a cat: is it ok?

As a cat owner, I sometimes think: what if I shaved my cats? Mostly, this thought comes when it’s extremely hot in the summer or when they shed extensively and I keep collecting fur from random places in the apartment. Still, shaving has always seemed stressful to me. How would they react? Can it be dangerous? I decided to do some research: can I shave my cat?

3 myths about shaving cats

I came across a whole number of reasons (or shall I rather call them myths?) for cat shaving.

Myth1: You should shave a cat to save her from the heat 

Cats, just like other furry animals, have a mechanism that helps them regulate their body temperature. This way, they stay cool in the summer. Access to fresh water is an important part of it, so make sure that your cat drinks enough. If you’re afraid that your cat doesn’t drink enough, a cat water fountain can help: cats love running water and drink it with more pleasure.

Still, it is important to watch out for possible overheating signals. These include panting and hard breathing, high heart rate, vomiting, and others. Provide your feline friend with a cool shady place for the summer not to let overheating happen.

Myth 2: You should shave a shedding cat 

Long- and short-haired cats shed in the same amounts. Shedding is a natural process that signifies a healthy feline. It’s impossible to avoid shedding, but there are less drastic ways to control it.

Regular grooming and brushing reduces the amount of hair and also helps to build a connection between you and your cat. Short-haired cats can be groomed once a week, while for their long-haired counterparts it’s best to do it daily.

A high-protein diet positively influences the fur quality and partially reduces shedding, too. So pay attention to the ingredients in the cat food and opt for high-quality brands

Myth 3: You should shave a matting cat

Matting is a more serious issue than shedding, but, unlike shedding, it can be prevented. Infrequent grooming is the primary reason why matting occurs, especially with longhairs.  Regular brushing prevents mats from forming and is positive for the cat-human relationship.

Obese cats, even short-haired, are prone to getting matted fur. These cats can’t reach all body parts while grooming, so matting is typical to occur on the low back and legs. Grooming can help with the mats, but it is necessary to follow feeding recommendations, give your cat enough exercise and consult a vet. Obesity can become the reason for many diseases such as hypertension, breathing difficulties, liver diseases, and even cancer.

Small mats can be untangled with a brush or fingers. If not, a professional groomer will help trim them. In extreme cases, when all fur is matted, shaving is humane and is the only option. Do not try to trim the fur on your own unless you’re trained to do it. You may easily damage the cat’s skin and also create negative associations with you and the stressful procedure.


Negative consequences of shaving a cat 

In some cases, shaving your cat just won’t help to solve the existing problems. But it is also likely to create new ones.

Various disorders

Shaving is a huge stress for a cat. If it’s elderly, it might have a negative impact on the overall health or nervous system and heart in particular. Aggressive cats will become even more aggressive, which is dangerous for everyone around them. Cats that have certain health conditions like diabetes or autoimmune diseases, might never grow the hair back, and the stress puts their health at risk.

Sunburns

Cat fur protects the skin from the sun. When the protection is removed, a cat can easily get sunburnt. There’s also a risk of various types of cancer that affect bald or thinly-haired body parts. Another function of the fur is UV protection. If there’s no other way but to shave, at least think about ways to temporarily protect the skin.

Follicular dysplasia

Regular shaving can cause hair problems, such as follicular dysplasia and occlusions, that can lead to general health problems.

No defense from the environment

Cat hair protects their skin, which is a lot more absorbent than human one, from toxins and parasites.


Shaving a cat is not advisable 

In most situations, shaving a cat is not normal. It causes a lot of stress, so the only case when it can be considered is when the fur becomes so matted that it is impossible to untangle it. 

Tangles and knots cause discomfort as they irritate the skin.

Mats can be removed with electric clippers. To ensure that the new fur grows evenly, it is possible to make a haircut.

Another situation when shaving is needed is medical examinations and blood tests. To perform an ultrasound examination, the vet will shave the belly of the cat. Finding a vein for taking a blood sample also requires shaving a small area on a paw. 

Fight the root cause instead of symptoms 

The decision to shave your cat is most often based on extensive shedding. Still, this doesn’t stop a cat from shedding but only temporarily reduces the overall volume of fur. Grooming, on the other hand, can effectively manage regular cat shedding, even with long-haired breeds.

If a cat sheds too much, this might be a sign of a disease. In this case, it is best to visit the vet to check the current condition. Excessive shedding means that something is wrong: it can be a skin problem, immune disease, or something more threatening.

Shaving is an easy and convenient way for the owner to deal with shedding and avoid grooming. Yet when it comes to the pet’s health, it is likely to be a bad solution. It causes a lot of stress for the feline, which can lead to health issues.


FAQ’s

What happens if you shave a cat?

Shaving is a stressful procedure, so shaved cats are likely to behave abnormally for some time. It does not reduce shedding, but in extreme situations, it can help deal with matting. If done, it should be performed by a professional only. 

Why is shaving a cat bad?

Besides being stressful, shaving makes a cat’s coat nonfunctional. Removing fur is removing heat and sun protection as well as the defense from the environment. The new fur that grows after shaving may be of lower quality than the previous one or, under certain conditions, may never grow back.

Why is my cat hissing at my other cat after a haircut?

The most probable reason why cats hiss at their shaved friends is that a shaved cat may still bear the smell of the groomer. It is also possible that the shaved feline has discharged its anal sacs with pheromones that signal danger. Whatever the reason is, it won’t last long – so just give your cats some time.

Is it animal abuse to shave your cat?

Shaving a cat isn’t cruel provided it’s done due to an acceptable reason and in the right way. The unacceptable reasons for shaving are giving it a trendy look, keeping it cool in the summer, doing it for fun, or doing less vacuuming.

Should I cut my cat’s whiskers? 

Whiskers, or vibrissae, help cats orient in the surroundings, so they never should be trimmed or cut! Without them, cats become disoriented, which veterinarians compare to blindfolding a person. Whiskers shed and grow back in a natural way, but they don’t need any help.

In a word 

Shaving is common for a human but not for a cat. It won’t help with shedding and won’t do much when it’s hot outside. In most cases, cats can perfectly manage their coats on their own, but if you’re worried about fur on your furniture, regular grooming is the right thing to do. Leave shaving to professionals and only for extreme cases.

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