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Why Can't My Cat be Shaved?

Updated: Feb 4, 2023

This is a question I get asked all the time, and the answer is simply this: not every cat is a candidate for shaving. Whether it's a full-body haircut like a Lion Cut, or smaller areas including Sanitary Trims or Belly Shaves, it's important to discuss grooming options with your professional groomer to develop a customized grooming program for your cat's needs.

Shaving May Not Be Recommended For Two Primary Reasons:

1) The Cat's Skin Condition

In order to minimize the risk of nicking a cat while shaving, the skin should be healthy and supple with some tissue underneath. This helps to create a flat area for the clipper to go over. Skin that is quite wrinkly, thin, and/or fragile can be easily cut even by the most cautious groomer. For this reason, your groomer may recommend alternative grooming services instead of shaving the hair close to the skin.

This may affect:

Young cats/kittens: While these cats may have healthy skin and coat, many are still quite thin and wriggly. This makes it very difficult for the trimmer to keep to a flat surface safely. It is also important to make a cat's first grooming session a positive, low-stress experience. For these reasons, a cat under 1 year old should never be shaved, in my opinion.

Senior cats: As cats age, they lose body mass and may become dehydrated. This causes the skin to become thin, wrinkly, and very fragile. If a nick does occur, the skin may rip (ouch!) during movements and may not heal as quickly as a younger cat. Even cats who are used to being shaving will need to have their grooming services adjusted as they get older.

Cats with health concerns: Skin and coat health can be affected by a number of health problems including allergies, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, infections, and many more. If the skin is too fragile or irritated, shaving should be avoided if possible.

Oscar (pictured below) is a senior cat (18) who has hyperthyroidism. When I first started seeing him, he was pelted. This means that his small mats had grown together. Imagine a carpet of fur attached to your skin (bleh!). This groom was only to make him more comfortable and he is now on a regular maintenance schedule so that this never happens again.

2) Cat's Behaviour During Grooming

Groomers work with very sharp equipment. Even through most cats do quite well during grooming, some cats can be less tolerant of the process than others. Cats who react with aggression or are overly stressed are not ideal candidates for full body haircuts.

While a professional cat groomer will take every precaution to minimize the risk of accidents, cat that react to stressful situations with quick, unpredictable movements can can cause injuries, to both themselves and the groomer.

Time may also be an issue for these cats. The longer the groom, the more stressed they can become; so it is best that the groom is kept only as long as necessary to maintain proper skin and coat health. This means that for some cats, a full body haircut is not possible.

Alternatives to Shaving

If your cat is not a candidate for shaving, there are still options available to keep your cat's skin and coat well-groomed and healthy. These include regular bath and blow dry appointments, de-shedding treatments, and comb cuts.

Please make sure to discuss with your groomer what is right for your cat. All groomers have a different process, and just because your cat was shaved previously, it doesn't mean they are comfortable with being shaved.

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