I took my nephew to the park for a walk together with my dog. I felt my nephew tugging at my hand and innocently said “Why are lions allowed in a park?”
Being the worry wart that I am, the first thought that came to mind was if a lion has escaped from the local zoo and is out for a snack.
But everything started to make sense when I turned to where my nephew was pointing and saw a ‘lion’.
Or more appropriately, a cat with a lion’s cut.
A lion cut for cats started off as a grooming necessity but has since evolved to become a fashion statement for some cat owners.
Should you give your cat a lion cut?
A lion cut might be needed for cats that have badly matted or noted fur. A lion cut will be able to give the cat a reset on its fur condition. Not all cats take too well to being shaved so completely and can become stressed out after it is done.
In this article, we will take a closer look at what the lion cut exactly is and what are the pros and cons of giving your cat such a look.
What Is A Lion Cut For Cats?
If you have never seen a cat with a lion cut before, just imagine a lion with its mane. That is pretty much how your cat will look after the cut.
Your cat’s coat will be shaved down as close as possible to the skin on its torso, legs and neck area.
Your cat’s fur on its face, paws and tail tip will not be touched so as to give the cat the lion look.
A professional groomer wouldn’t want to shave your cat’s face and paws too much as those are sensitive areas for your cat.
Is A Lion Cut Safe for Cats?
You might get different opinions from cat owners who have given their cats lion cuts before. To some, it might be a life saver for their cats while others might do it out of convenience.
Ultimately, if you are on the fence about giving your cat a lion cut, the below pros and cons will help you make an informed decision before putting your cat under the shaver.
Pros Of A Lion Cut
Here are the common reasons why some cats are given lion cuts:
Helps With Matted Fur
This will be the most common reason why a cat owner will decide on giving the cat such a hairdo.
Long haired cats tend to get their fur matted and knotted as compared to cats from a short haired breed.
This can happen for a couple of reasons.
Most times, a cat owner buys or adopts a long haired cat breed without really understanding the kind of maintenance that is required for such cats.
A Persian or a Ragdoll cat will require a lot more grooming as compared to a Devon Rex.
Some Persian owners that I know of have a busy grooming schedule for their cats at home and at the cat groomer.
If your cat has long fur and you don’t get your cat groomed or brushed often enough, its fur will be tangled.
Cat Breeds like the Persian shed a lot of fur which requires more grooming and maintenance than others.
As the cat ages, its ability to properly groom itself also diminishes. It wouldn’t have the kind of flexibility to reach those hard to get to places like it once could.
Cats are big on grooming and can easily groom themselves up to 5 hours a day. A cat that isn’t efficient at grooming itself can result in its fur getting matted.
Matted or knotted fur is very painful for cats as it pulls on the cat’s skin.
The only best way to get rid of these knots is to shave your cat down to its skin and allow the cat’s fur to grow properly again.
Helps With Reducing Hairballs
The second most common reason is to help a cat manage its hairball issues. All this constant self-grooming by a cat comes at a price which is hairballs.
Cats groom or lick themselves to remove dust/dirt on their fur and to get rid of loose fur in their coats.
All the cat hair that the cat has removed will be swallowed and passed out in its stool or vomited out at a later time.
Hairballs are more common in a long haired breed due to the longer fur length.
It can make matters worse if the cat is a compulsive groomer like my cat. My cat is a short haired tabby and he grooms himself a lot.
He gets a hairball at least once a week which I usually find on my bed.
To combat this, I have to brush him once a day to remove as much fur from his body so that he doesn’t swallow all of it.
It is fine and dandy if your cat is able to purge out the hairball.
Some hairballs can grow so big that the cat’s hair forms a large mass and gets stuck in the cat’s digestive system which can be life-threatening.
Make sure to use a couple of effective home remedies for hairballs if your cat has a chronic hairball problem.
Less Shedding From The Cat
Cats shed year round but they tend to shed a lot more during spring and fall. This is when the cat gets rid of its winter coat for summer and summer coat for winter.
Every cat owner you ask will tell you that it is not possible to not find cat hair at home. I even find cat hair on my clothes after doing my laundry.
Some cat owners will give their cats a lion cut to reduce the amount of shedding at home. This helps tremendously for people who are allergic to cats.
The allergen is caused by a type of protein (Fel d1) in the cat’s saliva.
When the cat licks itself, this protein gets on the cat’s skin or fur and gets distributed all over the house when the cat sheds.
If you or a family member suffers from a cat allergy, you need to know how to minimize the amount of cat danger at home to prevent an allergic reaction.
By giving the cat a lion cut, it can greatly reduce the amount of hair and skin that the cat sheds.
Cons Of A Lion Cut
Here are some reasons why giving your cat a lion cat might be a bad idea:
Unable To Regulate Body Temperature
It is rather common for many cat owners to believe that their cat’s coat works the same way a sweater does for us humans.
We wear extra layers when it’s cold and lesser when it’s warm.
Cats do have the same option as well by shedding and growing their own fur.
It might seem torturous to a cat to be walking around with so much fur during the summer months which might convince cat owners to give their cats a lion cut to help ‘cool’ the cats down.
This belief is a myth.
Cats can do a good job of regulating their own body temperature once they reach 5 weeks of age.
They can lose body heat via their ears, paws, panting and licking their fur to improve airflow.
By shaving away such a large amount of the cat’s fur, you are messing up its own natural built-in thermostat.
They don’t really benefit much in terms of staying cool by being shaved.
Cats are also a lot smaller than they seem which is evident when you shower your cat. My cat can shrink by almost 30% when wet.
The larger surface area that they possess acts like a heat sink which dissipates heat effectively.
On the flip side, your cat will have a problem staying warm in a lion cut if the weather turns cold. Outdoor cats need their fur to protect them against the elements.
Your cat is smart enough to know where to go for heat or to cool down in the house when the temperature is working against it.
Excess Exposure To The Sun And Injury
A cat’s skin is very thin, ranging between 0.4-2mm in thickness. Without its fur protecting the skin, that means more exposure to the sun and UV rays which can give the cat a bad sunburn.
With skin so thin, it is easy for the cat to get cut and scratched when it rubs against a foreign object.
Cats aren’t the most cooperative of pets when it’s time to visit the groomer to the vet.
My dog will whine and all but he takes it like a champion. My cat can turn into a demonic beast when pissed off.
For cats that are not able to keep still while being shaved, they will have to be sedated or out under general anesthesia to keep them still and calm.
Some groomers are known to sedate difficult cats with Acepromazine or ‘Ace’. Please do not allow anyone besides a trained vet to sedate your cat.
Sedation is a very complicated and sensitive process that can easily go wrong if the wrong anesthetic agent or dosage is used.
Personally, I try to avoid anesthesia unless it’s for a surgical or life-threatening procedure. Even more so since my cat is old and more at risk of complications.
You know your cat best and have to decide what would be the least stressful for it.
Your Cat Might Not Like It
Not all cats are ok with being almost completely shaved. They might start behaving weirdly or anxious after realizing that they have no fur left to groom.
You won’t be too happy too if someone shaved your head bald while you were sleeping or have to leave the house wearing only your undies.
This can cause your cat to become anti-social and exhibit these symptoms:
- Excessive meowing
- Lack of appetite
- Hiding more often
- Less affectionate
- Unprovoked aggression
How Often Should A Cat Get A Lion Cut?
There are some cat owners who do it all year round if the cat has problems grooming itself. The cat will be shaved at an interval of once every month to keep things well maintained.
Some cat owners will only do it in spring before the summer months thinking that it will make it more comfortable for the cats.
Do Cats Hair Grow Back After Lion Cut?
Your cat’s hair will eventually grow back even if you do decide not to maintain the lion cut. It takes about 3 months for a short hair cat to fully grow back its fur.
Long haired cats will take a longer time, usually about 4-6 months to regain back their full coat.
Is It Cruel To Shave a Cat?
This discussion about whether is it cruel to shave your cat has put many cat owners on the fence about it.
If giving your cat a lion cut is purely for health reasons like the prevention of matted fur and hairballs even after trying out other methods, then it might be worth a consideration.
But if you are just doing it for cosmetic reasons, shame on you. Please don’t subject your cat to something that isn’t natural for it.