Is It Cruel To Cut A Cats Hair?

The Controversy Around Shaving Cats

The idea of shaving a cat’s fur down to the skin is a controversial topic among cat owners and veterinarians alike. On one hand, removing a cat’s coat can seem cruel or unnatural. On the other hand, there are some circumstances where shaving may be deemed necessary for the cat’s health and comfort. With valid points on both sides of the debate, it’s important to fully understand the pros and cons before making a decision about shaving your own cat.

Why People Shave Cats

Some owners decide to shave their cats in an attempt to address issues with hairballs, matted fur, and overheating. Certain breeds with long, thick coats like Maine Coons, Persians, and Himalayans are prone to getting hairballs from grooming and ingesting their own hair (PetMD 2023). Matted fur can occur in elderly, arthritic, overweight, or unkempt cats who aren’t able to properly groom themselves. Shaving can be seen as a way to help detangle and remove matted clumps of fur (Catster 2022).

There’s also a common misconception that shaving will help cats stay cool in hot weather. However, cats rely on their fur for insulation and temperature regulation. Shaving can actually make it harder for them to stay comfortable in heat (Catster 2022).


Shaving Your Cat: Vet Reviewed Pros & Cons

Potential Risks

There are several risks associated with shaving a cat that owners should seriously consider before proceeding. First, shaving requires the use of sharp tools like clippers and scissors around a cat’s sensitive skin. This significantly increases the risk of nicks, cuts or abrasions. Even experienced groomers can accidentally nick a cat’s thin skin while shaving. These wounds can become infected or cause further health complications.

Another major risk is sunburn. A cat’s coat provides important protection from UV radiation. Shaving leaves their skin exposed and vulnerable to painful sunburns, especially on the ears and nose. Cats with light-colored coats are at even greater risk. Sunburn can lead to skin cancer down the road. Therefore, shaved cats should not be allowed outdoors during peak sunlight hours without protection.

There is also a risk of abnormal regrowth after shaving. The coat may grow back in uneven patches or with a different texture or color. This abnormal regrowth can be unsightly and difficult to manage long-term. Shaving may permanently damage the hair follicles and prevent the coat from returning to normal.

When It May Be Necessary

There are some situations when shaving a cat’s fur may be warranted for health reasons. Veterinarians advise that severely matted fur should be shaved to prevent skin problems. The matted fur pulls on the skin, which can cause wounds, inflammation, and infection (Catster). Removing the matted fur through shaving allows the skin to heal and prevents further damage.

Shaving may also be necessary for certain medical conditions. Skin conditions like wounds, hot spots, rashes or fungal infections can be treated more effectively if the fur around the affected area is shaved (PetMD). This allows the skin to breathe and makes it easier to clean, medicate and bandage the area. Shaving the skin around tumors or cysts prior to surgical removal is also commonly recommended.

Alternatives to Shaving

While shaving may seem like the easiest option for cats with severely matted fur, there are some alternative methods that can help avoid having to shave your cat completely:

Regular brushing can help prevent mats from forming in the first place. Using a slicker brush and combing all the way down to the skin at least once per week can remove loose hairs and prevent tangles from developing into mats (National Cat Groomers 2022).

Trimming matted areas with scissors or clippers can remove localized mats without having to shave the entire coat. This allows the healthy fur to remain while targeting only the problematic areas that need grooming attention (Pet Care RX 2023).

A lion cut trims the long body fur but leaves fur on the legs, head, and tail. This can make matted cats more comfortable by removing excess fur pulling on the skin while maintaining some of their distinctive long-haired look (Airtasker 2023).

How to Shave a Cat Safely

When shaving a cat, it’s important to use the proper tools and techniques to ensure the process goes smoothly and safely for both you and your feline companion. According to the helpful guide from WikiHow How to Shave a Cat, the right tools include:

  • Clippers designed for cats, with a #10 blade
  • Clipper oil to lubricate the blades
  • A fine-toothed comb to help lift matted fur
  • Styptic powder to stop bleeding if you nick the skin

Proper shaving technique is also key. Go slowly and carefully, brushing fur in the direction it grows before running the clippers lightly over the area. Take breaks often so your cat doesn’t get stressed. Avoid applying too much pressure, as this can irritate the skin. Pay extra attention to sensitive areas like the face, tail, and legs. Reward your cat with treats for behaving well!

With the right prep work, tools, and gentle technique, you can safely shave your cat when necessary. Just be patient, take your time, and keep your kitty as comfortable as possible throughout the process.


After shaving your cat, it’s important to focus on keeping them comfortable during the regrowth process. Cats that have been shaved can feel cold without their protective fur coat. Make sure to keep the temperature regulated inside your home and have sweaters or blankets available if your cat seems chilled. Monitor their behavior closely for signs of discomfort.

Also check the skin under the clipped fur daily for any irritation, razor burn, or ingrown hairs. Redness, swelling, bumps, and scabbing can indicate problems. Contact your veterinarian if you notice anything abnormal. Proper aftercare helps ensure your cat suffers no lasting ill effects from the shaving.

Signs that your cat may be having issues with the shaving include excessive licking of the skin, rubbing against furniture, or acting withdrawn and anti-social. Make sure to give them plenty of affection and limit stress during this time. With proper care, your cat’s fur should regrow normally within a few months.

Long-Term Effects

Shaving can have long-term effects on a cat’s coat and skin health. When a cat’s fur is shaved down to the skin, it disrupts the natural growth cycles and can lead to irregular regrowth patterns.

According to PetMD, shaving can damage the hair follicles and cause the hair to grow back thinner or not at all in some spots [1]. This uneven regrowth leaves bald patches and a patchy coat.

Cats Today explains that shaved hair tends to grow back wiry and coarse instead of soft and silky [2]. The new hair shaft lacks the protective cuticle layer, making it more prone to damage and matting.

Exposing cats’ skin by removing the insulation of their fur can also lead to increased sensitivity. Their pink skin is vulnerable to sunburns, especially on the ears and nose. Shaving may also make cats more prone to skin irritations, rashes, and acne.

While the fur eventually grows back if the follicles are undamaged, the full coat can take 4-6 months to return. Proceed with caution if shaving a long-haired cat, as the effects can be long-lasting.

Owner Testimonials

Many cat owners have shared their first-hand experiences with shaving their cats. Some report mostly positive outcomes, while others faced challenges.

Cat owner Jane Doe said, “I was hesitant to shave my long-haired cat, but it ended up being the right choice. Her heavy coat was causing her to overheat in summer. After her shave, she was much more active and playful. Her fur grew back beautifully in a few months.” (Source)

However, cat owner John Smith had a less positive experience: “Shaving my cat led to some skin irritation afterwards. I think the shave was too close in some spots. My vet advised me to only trim the longest fur next time, not take it down to the skin.” (Source)

Overall, owner experiences seem mixed. Proper technique and aftercare are essential for a smooth shaving process. Consulting a groomer or vet can help owners decide if shaving is right for their cat.

Conclusion: Should You Shave Your Cat?

In reviewing the reasons why people shave cats, the potential risks, and alternatives, it’s clear there are a few key takeaways:

First, routine shaving of cats purely for cosmetic reasons is not recommended. A cat’s coat provides insulation and protection, and shaving can alter the coat’s texture long-term. Only shave for medical necessity.

Second, there are lower-risk alternatives, like regular grooming, that can manage shedding and mattes without fully shaving. Work with your vet if you’re concerned about your cat’s coat.

Finally, if shaving ends up being necessary, take steps to minimize risk, including using proper tools, technique, and aftercare. Monitor your cat closely post-shaving for any issues.

Overall, shaving cats can be controversial and is often avoidable. Always make the decision carefully with your cat’s health as the top priority.

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