Cat Behavior After Shaving: What to Expect
Felines are known to be highly sensitive to change. Their heightened senses help them recognize the slightest change in temperature, and they can easily distinguish different sounds to help them assess their surroundings and run for cover in the presence of possible threats. All of these abilities are natural gifts that helped their ancestors survive in the wild.
So what happens when you need to shave your cat?
Shaving can be a drastic change for felines. They might feel violated and vulnerable, leading to episodes of depression. They might feel relieved after the removal of a mat, or afraid and sensitive, especially if their skin becomes irritated.
Depending on your cat’s temperament, you may also notice your cat acting grumpy or aloof right after the haircut. Some cats may also feel embarrassed and hide themselves away from people. If you have more than one cat at home, the other cats might hiss and swat at the newly-groomed kitty.
As a fur parent, you want to make sure that your kitty is loved despite the new look. Giving your cat reassurance and proper care should help him get back to normal a few days after the shavedown.
Why shaving your cat can be cruel
Picture this: If someone tries to take off your clothes and leave you exposed and vulnerable, how would you feel? Your poor kitty probably feels the same.
Shaving can be cruel if the reason is purely aesthetic. Some owners may want their cat to look a certain way, and while this may temporarily be cute, there may be a heavy price to pay. Keep in mind that without their fur, cats can feel stressed to the point that it affects their overall health.
Sometimes, however, problems can arise, such as severe matting or skin infections. In cases like this, it is better to have your feline checked by the vet before making any decisions. If no other options are available to fix the problem, then shaving should be your last resort.
Valid reasons to shave your cat
Shaving can be a painful and traumatic experience for your feline friend, so it is crucial to consider it only for specific situations. Some acceptable reasons for shaving your cat’s fur are:
- Excessive shedding which can cause the recurrence of matted fur.
- Severe mats and tangles that cannot be fixed with dematting combs and sprays.
- The presence of wounds and skin infections that need to be treated thoroughly. You may need to shave the surrounding areas to clean the wound and apply ointments properly.
- To prevent hairballs that can create intestinal blockages for your furry friend. If your cat is an excessive licker and sheds a lot, then shaving could save him from this life-threatening condition.
- Grooming problems due to the cat’s age, obesity issues, or other health conditions.
It is strongly advised to consult a professional groomer when shaving your cat, unless you know exactly what to do and are confident to do it yourself at home.
The pros and cons of shaving
Shaving does not really have a lot of benefits for healthy cats. However, certain situations may justify the need to temporarily remove your cat’s protective coat. This will come with pros and cons, so it is important to review these before you decide to shave that beautiful fur.
For cats with severe health issues, shaving may be the best solution to fix what could become a life-threatening condition. One example is excessive shedding. Just like dogs, cats can shed their fur up to twice a year. If you have a long-haired cat, you may notice a lot of dead hair on your furniture or bed which can make your cleaning routine a daunting task.
But the reason for shaving is more than just the inconvenience of cleaning. As you may know, some cats never tire of licking their fur. Such excessive licking during shedding season may cause your kitty to ingest a lot of loose hair, which can clump into hairballs inside his digestive tract. When not managed properly, although rare, it may cause a blockage which can be life-threatening.
Another advantage of shaving is that it keeps your cat’s skin clean and tangle-free while you are tending his wounds. Vets usually recommend balding areas with open wounds and skin infections so you can apply certain medications with ease. The wounds and skin infections are usually preceded by severe matting, which also may be managed only through shaving.
What about the disadvantages of shaving?
Whether you like it or not, your poor kitty will likely experience trauma after the shavedown. This is why it is very important to do it with love and care. Even having him shaved by an unfamiliar groomer can lead to a frightening experience that your cat may remember for the rest of his life.
A lot of owners also believe that shaving their fur-babies during summer will help them cool down. However, this is a massive misconception which can only aggravate skin problems.
Your cat’s coat is designed by nature to protect him from extreme weather conditions. In summer, the fur traps the cool air close to his skin to prevent overheating and sunburn. The coat also keeps him warm during the winter season. Without his fur, it will be challenging for your cat to regulate his body temperature efficiently, triggering a domino effect on his overall health.
Aside from skin irritation, shaving might cause accidental cuts, especially if you glide the blade too close to the skin. So, never attempt to shave your cat if you are not sure what to do.
Lastly, shaving may also remove your cat’s natural protection against the harsh UV rays of the sun. In rare cases, frequent shaving may result in skin cancer for some cats.
Cat behavior after shaving
While shaving may help save your cat in some situations, keep in mind that he may react negatively, depending on his age and temperament. But do not worry; this behaviour is mostly temporary. Your feline should be back to his normal self a few days after his shave.
However, if your cat’s weird behavior is bothersome and has been going on for too long, then something might be up. Have your kitty checked by a vet to ascertain whether there are underlying medical problems involved in his unnatural behavior.
Here are some behaviors your cat may show after a shavedown:
1. Excessive licking on the shaved areas, especially on spots where a heavy mat has been removed. Matted fur, when shaved, may reveal irritated skin or infections that have been going on for some time. These newly-shaved spots may be very itchy or uncomfortable for the cat. To protect the sensitive areas from excessive licking, place a cone or e-collar temporarily on your cat until the area is completely healed and fur is starting to grow back.
2. The vulnerability of having no fur may cause depression in your cat. Just like humans, cats can experience depression. Have you noticed that your cat has suddenly stopped eating, or is sleeping in the litter box? He might be feeling sad about the new look. Give your kitty some snuggle time, lots of petting, and treats to make him feel a little better. Hopefully, this behavior should go away as your cat gets used to the situation.
3. Shyness after a grooming session, causing your poor kitty to avoid people and stay in his hiding spot. Yes, even cats feel some level of embarrassment when they are transformed from an adorable kitty into a weird-looking bald cat.
4. Acting very hyper after a shave, which might be due to itchiness or sensitivity on the shaved areas. Usually this should not be a cause for concern. Your cat might simply feel uncomfortable with the new look. If the behavior becomes too bothersome, a trip to the vet should help you rule out any medical problems and give you peace of mind.
5. Relief, after having severely matted fur for a long time. Matting can pull their thin skin and cause mobility issues as well as irritation. So it is quite normal to see them suddenly become playful and full of energy after a massive lump of hair is shaved off.
How long will it take my cat’s fur to grow back?
Generally, a healthy short-haired cat should have his fur back in three months, while long-haired felines will take four to six months to grow their fur to full length.
Keep in mind that fur regrowth may depend on a lot of factors, such as breed, age, diet, existing skin issues, overall health, and the season (your cat’s fur may grow slower in some months). If your furry friend suffered skin irritation and bruises after a severe mat, it might take longer for their fur to grow back.
The bottom line
Shaving can have detrimental effects on your feline’s overall health. You might notice your cat suddenly feeling depressed, vulnerable, or even hyper, depending on his temperament and health. These are all normal reactions, however, and should not be a serious concern.
On the other hand, feline behavior that becomes too bothersome might need medical attention. Be sure to keep an eye on your beloved pet so you can take any necessary action in response to changes in his habits or behavior.
Image: istockphoto.com / Aksakalko