Noticed your furry tabby cats’ hair getting long lately? We’ve all seen how those shedding hairs are floating all over the room and sticking to the furniture. Maybe you’ve thought about shaving your cat to help get rid of this problem. But is shaving really the solution to your cat’s hair problems? I decided to do a bit of research to see if shaving is really beneficial for cats or not and here’s what I’ve found.
So, should you shave a tabby cat? Generally, you should avoid shaving your cat’s fur. Shaving cats can remove protective hairs that help regulate body temperature. Shaving can also cause pain and fear in the cat. Excessively matted or tangled hair should be shaved with the help of a professional groomer. Shaving can help if your cat is dealing with flea issues.
So while shaving is not the worst thing you could do to a cat, it should be done with heavy precaution. Not every cat needs to be shaved; even those with ultra-long hair. However, there are times when it can be really useful to improve your cat’s quality of life. In this guide, I’ll share with you some of the pros and cons of shaving cats along with helpful alternatives to keep you both happy!
Why Do Cats Shed
Tabby cat or not, cats will shed hair. While it might seem like an annoying and unhealthy process, it’s actually quite the opposite. Shedding is actually a natural process that the cat goes through and it’s healthy. Shedding can also be problematic too and an indicator your cat is going through something serious.
Here are a few reasons cats shed
- They are experiencing anxiety or stress
- To cool down their bodies in hot temperatures
- They are allergic to something
- Underlying medical issues
- Poor diet and nutrition
All cats shed and there’s really nothing you can do to stop it. However, regulating the shedding and reducing how much they shed is possible. Shaving might seem like a logical solution, but it can cause more problems. Instead, you should focus on proper ways to groom your cat while still allowing them to maintain their healthy fur coat.
There are a ton of other factors that affect tabby cats and shedding. I wrote a complete guide on tabby cats and shedding which you can read here.
Benefits Of Shaving Cats
While shaving your cat can cause a wealth of other issues, there are actually some logical reasons where shaving can be of great benefit to the cat. Below are some of the situations in which shaving a cat can be great for both them and the owner.
Shaving Cats Reduces Shedding
Does your cat have a serious problem with shedding hair? If so then you’re not alone. Nearly every cat in the world (except for hairless breeds like the Sphynx) sheds hair. Some cats may shed more than others and a lot of it comes down to genetics. Perhaps you have a cat that is always under stress and can’t help but react through shedding.
Cats who are in poor health and poor nutrition are going to shed more frequently than others too. Then there is the fact that the seasonal temperatures can cause cats to shade more under certain conditions. For example, cats will almost always shed more in the Summer months to keep their bodies cooler.
So how exactly does a cat owner combat all of these scenarios? Easy, simply shave the cat so there is not as much hair left to fall out. Instead of doing this yourself though, it’s better to let a professional take care of this. Pet groomers know exactly how to shave the cat’s hair without causing them any pain or discomfort. They are also incredibly careful about not going too close to the skin and also keeping the cut on the cat’s fur even. That way when the hair grows back, it will be even and clean.
If you try to shave a cat yourself, here are a few things you want to avoid doing:
- Shaving the paws, cheeks, or other limbs (these are sensitive areas!)
- Shaving too close to the skin (cats should not be balded)
- Accidentally cutting your furry pal
Even though you shave a cat, you should still expect them to shed. You will find hairs dropping still, only this time they will be fine hairs at least until the coat returns to its full length.
Shaving Helps Get Rid Of Annoying Pests & Parasites
Does your cat have seriously matted hair? If so, there’s always the chance that their fur could be crawling with parasites that you otherwise would not see. In this case, it’s actually a huge mistake if you did not shave your cat. If you notice your cat starts behaving differently then chances are there are some underlying medical issues there.
Many common parasites will actually thrive within the hair follicles themselves. These are considered external parasites, so owners can usually see them. If you’re concerned about internal parasites like tapeworm and roundworm, read this article for prevention tips.
Below are some pests and that can be hidden under matted cat hair:
- Ear mites
- Sarcoptic mites
For the most part, these pests will cause your cat more of an annoyance and discomfort more than anything. Fleas constantly feast on cats as a host, and they are easily picked out due to excessive scratching. Fleas can actually accelerate the shedding problem that you may already have. Cats with bad flea problems will sometimes claw out entire clumps of hair trying to get rid of the discomfort.
While shaving alone won’t completely get rid of fleas, it makes it easier to pick them out and stop the problem. The same can be said for some of the other pests like ticks and mites that can get into the fur.
Shavings Cat Helps With Applying Certain Medications
Cats will routinely get shots and other treatments starting when they are kittens. Sometimes certain treatments need to be applied to certain areas on the cat. Sometimes its topical ointments, and other times hard to reach spots. A cat with a ton of fur is going to make applying those medications much tougher than it needs to be.
In this case, vets will shave that particular area of the cat so they can apply the treatment they need. Other times they need to shave certain areas such as the legs so they can apply ankle bands or put protective plastic to stop the cat from biting that area. You see this happen a lot with cats and post-surgery care.
Shaving Can Help Keep Your Cat Clean
If you have a longhair cat, chances are they will experience some degree of matting (unless you are consistent with grooming habits). Matting can lead to a host of issues including hairballs and keeping your cat dirty. If your cat were to retain all of that dirt in their hair, they will start to look dirty no matter what you do. Sometimes shaving can be the best option to help keep your cat clean, especially when the mess is several layers below what you can actually see.
Disadvantages Of Shaving Cats
While there are a few advantages to shaving cats, there are just as many disadvantages too. Shaving a cat is a tricky process, and if you do not know what you’re doing then it can cause lifelong issues for your pet. Below are some of the key disadvantages of shaving cats.
Shaving Does Not Keep Cats Cool
Outside of shedding hairs, many cat owners will shave their furry little companions to help keep their bodies cool. The reality, however, is that cats who have less hair on their bodies are actually going to fare much worse in hot conditions.
You see, cats don’t have the same kind of skin that humans do. They don’t sweat quite the same way, and so it’s important that they have just enough hair there to help protect them against the heat. A cat with shaved hair or one that is bald can experience skin damage due to the exposure.
Below are some of the common issues shaving your cat can produce:
- Ingrown hairs
- Scars and sensitive skin
It’s important to remember that cats are intelligent and will use alternative methods to beat the heat. Cats will do some of the following things to help keep their bodies cool:
- Find shaded areas
- Reduce physical activity
- Drink more water
- Shed more hair
If you are concerned that your cat is still getting too hot in the summer, you should take them to the vet for a checkup.
Shaving Can Expose Wounds Or Injuries
While cat fur can keep cats warm, it’s also an important piece of their overall body protection. This is more problematic when cats have suffered from wounds or other injuries that were being protected by that fur. Those wounds are now more exposed to the elements and they are now more likely to get infected. Anything like excessive heat from the sun, water, or anything contaminated now has an easier path towards those wounds.
Natural Oils Are Removed From The Skin
Your cat’s skin produces natural oils that protect them against certain outside elements. These oils can protect against parasites, keeps their skin moist, and also protects against bacteria and UV rays. When you shave a cats fur too close to the skin, that entire balance of protection can be greatly affected.
Shaving a cat can cause those natural oils to shift around or be removed in some cases. As a result, the cat can start experiencing serious itching problems from the skin that is drying out. Any sort of allergies and irritations are going to be magnified. Other things can happen are clogged pores.
When those pores clog, your cat can essentially get cat acne. It’s a black material that forms on the skin and swells. Not only is it not pleasing to see your cat this way, but it’s very irritating for them. They will likely scratch those areas too much and end up hurting themselves by clawing too much at those clogged pores.
Ultimately if there is not enough protection against outside bacteria, your cat is likely going to get sick and start experiencing other health issues.
Some Hairs May Never Grow Back In
Whenever you shave a cat you run the risk of ingrown hairs and the possibility of hairs not growing back in. Because the pattern of the hair growth has been disrupted, your cat may have a hard time filling those areas back into the fullness that they once had. In some pets the lack of hair growth may last for an extended period of time; usually a year to a year and a half.
Then there are cases where the cat has been so affected by the shaving that the hair simply will never grow back in. Shaving is not necessarily the complete cause of this however, but it sets off a chain reaction. Your cat may have other issues they’re dealing with such as old age, genetics, alopecia and skin allergies that are exposed after a shave.
If you’ve ever shaved your cat and this is happening then take them to your vet and see about melatonin. It’s mostly to help with other behaviors like sleep and other disorders, but for some pets, it works as a hair treatment solution.
Shaving Sparks Fear In Cats
Outside of the skin issues, allergies, hair loss, and exposure to extreme heat, shaving sparks fear in most cats.
Just imagine what they are going through as they hear the loud sound of a razor buzzing. Now imagine the feeling of a thick coat of fur suddenly being removed in a matter of minutes. Shaving for cats is a much different experience than some light shedding of hairs. Even when cats are clawing out patches of hair, the experience is not quite the same.
Shaving quite simply causes trauma for some pets. Once they experience it, it’s really hard to rebuild trust with your cat. They may start to associate you picking them up and putting them in your lap with the negative shaving experience. Shaving cats can cause some serious behavior patterns that lead to aggression, lack of appetite, weight gain, and much more.
However, it’s important to consider that all cats are not the same. Some cats are entirely fine with a shave and it has no impact on them. Cat owners need to know the temperament of their pets. If you plan to shave your cat yourself or have a vet do it, then the process should be gradual.
Start off by letting them explore the clippers so they can see what it feels and smells like. You can gradually run the clippers on their skin but in the off position. This gives them a chance to feel the sharpness of the blades. The next step in the process is to actually turn the clippers on so they can get used to the sound.
If you see your cat running away immediately, then that’s a sign that it just might not be worth the hassle. If your cat responds well to the sound then you can start by taking a small patch of hair off from an area. While its ideal to complete the shaving of the cat in one sitting, you might need to do it across 2 to 3 sessions. Doing this allows your cat to process everything that is going on and limits the overall trauma. They have to get used to dealing with the clippers instead of being thrown into the process out of nowhere.
The last bit of advice I have is to use treats to train your cat. Food is a calming thing for most cats, and you can give them a treat throughout the entire process. If the cat tries to walk away from the clippers, hisses or runs, then immediately stop and try again later. You want to build trust with your cat, not lose it!
What Are The Best Ways To Reduce Cat Shedding Hairs
Ultimately, you probably came to this post on shaving cats because you want to reduce the shedding problem in some way. I totally get that, but in general, it’s just not the best way to go. Not only is shaving not ideal for the cat, but the shedding problem is going to eventually return. Pet groomers can also be quite expensive too.
Cats who have to experience a shaving almost always never like it; especially if they are not the social type. It can cause serious trauma which will only make them shed even more than before.
Below are a few of the best ways to reduce cat shedding hairs without shaving them.
Use a grooming brush to prevent matting
Matting is a big issue with longhair cats, but instead of shaving, I suggest you get a grooming brush instead. Grooming brushes don’t make the same loud sounds that shaving clippers can, so it’s much easier to get cats accustomed to it. I recommend the Furminator if you have a cat with a really dense coat.
This grooming brush is able to get deep underneath the coat and remove those really tough to get hairs. It’s also an excellent choice for shorthair cats who tend to shed more in general.
If you want an even more close experience with your cat, you could try out grooming gloves too. I’ve used the Delomo grooming gloves which you can check out here. They use silicone tips that feel gentle on the cat; almost like a massage. You can brush really lightly, or go a bit deeper to try and get more hairs. It’s not uncommon to hear your cat purring in satisfaction when using these.
Give regular baths
It’s no secret that many cats simply do not like water. However, it’s much easier to give a cat a bath than it is to shave them. Baths are a good way to help reduce shedding. Cats respond well to baths when they are introduced to it at a younger age. Regular bathing at least once per week will help keep the fur coat in good condition. This is a chance to rinse out and remove any tangles that maybe there. Some shampoos are great for detangling hair and work well in combination with grooming brushes too.
Reduce the stress on your cat
Ultimately, cats experience most of their excessive shedding periods when they are under a great deal of stress. Stress in cats can be caused by the following:
- Separation anxiety
- Loud noises (includes yelling)
- Lack of food and water
- Unfamiliar locations
Separation anxiety is probably one of the tougher things to deal with, especially when the cat owner has a demanding work schedule. I’ve written a complete guide on the topic and some strategies that can help cat owners deal with this directly. You can read that article at this link.
Loud noises such as garbage trucks, scolding your cat, or dropping something heavy can spook your cat. Not only will they meow a bunch, but they’ll naturally start shedding out of fear. It’s always important to keep them calm. Even things like lack of food and water and unfamiliar surroundings can really stress them out. For cats who are getting used to a new home or location within that home, I recommend using diffusers to relax them.
Keeping the cat indoors
A simple way to help your cat shed less is to keep them indoors. Outdoor cats shed more in general because they are not in climate-controlled environments. That means they have to deal with the heat naturally the best way they can, which is either finding some shade or shedding or a combination of both.
Indoor cats fair much better in this area.
Other Common Questions About Shaving Cats
While we’ve covered a lot of information on cats and shaving, you might have more questions. Below are some of the most common questions cat owners have when it comes to shaving their cute fur pals.
Can Cats Be Shaved With Human Clippers? Yes, you can shave a tabby cat or any other cat with human clippers. However, it’s not recommended that you do because some human clippers are too aggressive for their skin type. A simple swipe in the wrong direction can remove an entire patch of hair. It’s best to leave this up to a professional groomer or vet who has tools specifically designed for your cat.