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How to Shave a Cat in 8 Easy Steps

As a general rule, cats should not be shaved. In some cases, however, there are exceptions to this. Cats that are extremely matted will benefit from being shaved and starting over with new coat growth. Cats that are elderly or obese may face grooming challenges and need to be shaved in certain areas. Shaving can also help manage excessive shedding and reduce the frequency of hairballs.

Shaving is not part of a cat’s regular grooming session and should only be done when it’s necessary. In this article, we look at eight easy steps to shaving your cat. We hope that they make the experience easier for both you and your furry feline.

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Preparing to Shave Your Cat

Your cat’s coat should be as clean as possible before you begin to shave it. If your cat needs a bath, they should have one first and be thoroughly dry before you start. In a case where bathing the cat would make the problem worse, such as excessive matting, then it’s not necessary.

Gather your supplies so you have everything easily in reach. You may need another person to help you hold your cat still. You could also use a leash to help keep your cat from running away. You’ll need:

You’ll want to trim your cat’s claws before you begin shaving them, to reduce the risk of injury to yourself if they scratch you.

cat getting nails trimmed
Image Credit: AlexanderDubrovsky, Shutterstock

Location

Choose a place in your home to shave your cat where you can easily clean up cat hair once you’re done. A hard floor is better than carpeting for this, but if you have no alternative, make sure you have a vacuum handy.

A table or counter is ideal so you can place your cat on it to work on them and hold them still.

Style

Choose the grooming style before you begin so you know what you’re going to do ahead of time. This will save time, making it easier for you and your cat.

Shaving the bellies of medium or long-haired cats reduces matting. A comb cut will remove a great deal of hair, reducing shedding without shaving the cat completely. A lion cut is a close shave around the body with hair left on the tip of the tail, face, and around the legs. You may even be doing a complete shave to get rid of mats and tangles.

Once you have the grooming style in mind, the right location, and all your supplies, you’re ready to begin.

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Shaving Your Cat

1. Brush the Coat

Himalayan cat grooming
Image Credit: Wella Eriska, Shutterstock

Brush or comb your cat’s coat to get it as smooth as you can. Remove as much loose hair and debris as possible to make shaving easier. If your cat has severe mats, leave those be for now; the clippers will handle them.

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2. Turn On the Clippers

Your cat may get scared at the sound of the clippers, so turn them on before going near your cat. You don’t want to overwhelm your kitty, so give them time to get used to the noise before you touch them with the clippers.

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3. Pull the Skin Properly

grooming ragdoll cat
Image Credit: Pxhere

The area that you’re shaving on your cat should have the skin stretched as taut as possible to avoid nicks. As you move to new areas around the cat’s body, always have the skin pulled tight and move the clippers slowly.

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4. Move the Clippers

Gently touch your cat with the clippers where the skin is pulled taut while talking to them in a calm, soothing tone. You want them to remain as relaxed as possible. Move the clippers along your cat’s back in the direction that the hair grows. You are gently skimming the clippers over the hair’s surface. Don’t use too much pressure, or the clippers can cause rashes. Don’t shave against the direction of the hair growth.

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5. Leave Enough Length

grooming British cat with human clipper
Image Credit: KDdesignphoto, Shutterstock

You don’t want to shave your cat down to the skin. It’s best to leave at least 1 inch of hair on the body. Shaving too closely can lead to ingrown hairs and irregular hair growth. Never use a razor blade to shave your cat.

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6. Take Breaks

Shaving your cat is a time-consuming process. There’s no way to speed it up without risking injury to your cat or causing them distress. If your cat is visibly in need of a break, take one. You can come back to the job later.

Also, remember that the clippers will get warmer the more they work. If the clippers get too hot, they can hurt your cat. Always let the clippers cool down when necessary before continuing to shave.

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7. Do Not Shave Delicate Areas

mans hand combing maine coon cat with hair brush
Image Credit: Sergey Fatin, Shutterstock

Avoid the face, full tail, and legs if you can. These areas are sensitive to injury and rashes from the clippers. The tail can be shaved as much as necessary, but some hair should always be left on the tip. Paws should not be shaved because they are easily nicked.

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8. Remember Hygiene

If your cat winds up with poop in their fur often, you may want to consider shaving the area under their tail and around the anus. This is especially helpful for large cats that can’t reach that area when grooming themselves or for long-haired cats that need help staying clean.

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Why to Not Shave a Cat

grooming brush with cat fur
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

Your cat should only be shaved when you have no other option. Many people think that cats get too hot in summer weather, and shaving their coats will help keep them cool. The opposite is actually true.

Cat coats help regulate their body temperatures, keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. By shaving a cat, you’re taking away their ability to adequately regulate their temperatures. If you must shave your cat during cold months, you may want to consider putting a sweater on them until their coat grows back.

Shaving a cat can also be traumatizing for the animal and cause them unnecessary stress. If your cat must be shaved but will not tolerate the activity, talk to your vet about possible sedatives that you can use for them at home. You can also consider visiting a professional groomer after your cat has been sedated to get the job done quickly and properly.

A cat’s fur offers them protection from the elements, including the sun. Once their fur is gone, the cat can easily get sunburned. If you shave an outdoor cat, consider using sunscreen on them every time they go outside or keep them inside until their fur has grown back.

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Final Thoughts

Although most cats don’t need to be shaved at all, sometimes there are situations where shaving is the only solution. As long as you shave your cat properly and keep them safe and as comfortable as possible, you can do this yourself in the comfort of your own home.

Once your cat’s coat grows back in, you can keep it clean and tangle-free with regular brushing or combing. We hope that you’ve learned a few ways to make shaving your cat a stress-free activity.

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Featured Image Credit: BY-_-BY, Shutterstock

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