Dear Pet Column,
I learned some important things by reading your column last week about how to keep dogs cool in the summer heat but I am now wondering about my cat. She seems to sleep a lot more when it is hot and I wonder if it would help to shave her hair to keep her cooler? (Plus it would reduce shedding and I always thought she would look cool with a Mohawk…)
I respond to you with all due emphatic urgency: Back away from the clippers.
Shaving your cat can be a painful and traumatic experience and you should never do it yourself at home. Unless you are trained in shaving a cat, you may run the risk of injuring the cat’s thin skin and/or creating unnecessary feline anxiety.
Below is important information to consider well before deliberating about shaving your cat. The most important piece being that your cat doesn’t get hot in the summer. Cats have a natural, built-in insulator — their hair. This self-regulating mechanism allows them to remain warm in the winter and cool in the summer. (Thus the origin of “cool cats”…)
Although it’s still important to keep your kitty hydrated with fresh water, shaving your cat is unnecessary. We cats are smart too and know to move to shaded areas when we feel too warm.
Connect with a trusted veterinarian if you do suspect overheating; the signs may include (but are not limited to): trouble breathing, excessive panting, an elevated heart rate, vomiting, lethargy, stumbling gait and drooling.
If you are bothered by your cat shedding keep in mind that shedding is a sign of a healthy feline and the best way to avoid the hair sticking to your clothing and furniture is to brush your cat daily. Additionally, a diet high in protein makes a cat’s coat healthy and will reduce some shedding. This makes sense because hair is made from keratin, which is a protein.
Daily brushing also prevents hair mats from developing, is excellent for your cat’s coat, and helps to deepen your bond (if done regularly we really enjoy being pampered).
Lastly, cats are not fashion statements. Feel free to give yourself a Mohawk but leave our coats the way nature designed them. If you want us to be more stylish maybe look for a glitzy ID tag instead…
My name is Oscar. I am a young male calico looking for a new forever home. I have a lovely coat of hair that I would love for you to pet and groom but definitely keep the clippers away. I enjoy the company of other cats and will make a great addition to your family. In summary, you should only shave a cat in very specific situations that are either medically necessary or due to a cat’s discomfort (if mats have been allowed to get out of control). Adopt me.
Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View our shelter pets and services online: www.adoptmountainpets.org.