A fluffy brown cat getting groomed with a pink brush. Photography by ollegN/Thinkstock.
A fluffy brown cat getting groomed with a pink brush. Photography by ollegN/Thinkstock.

Can You Shave a Cat? Should You Ever Shave a Cat?

Summer is unofficially here and with it — hot, humid weather. So, is all this heat making your cat too hot? Can you shave a cat? We’ve found a few things to consider when it comes to shaving your cat.


Have you ever wondered — whether you were fed up with shedding, afraid your cat was overheating or dealing with matted fur — can you shave a cat?  Shaving your cat can be a painful and traumatic experience (and you should never do it yourself at home!). Here are four things to consider before shaving your cat.

A cat shaved with a lion cut.
Can you shave a cat? We take a look. Photography by juliannafunk/Thinkstock.

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. Isn’t nature amazing? It’s still important to keep kitty hydrated with fresh water, but shaving your cat is unnecessary. Plus, cats are smart about moving to shaded areas when they 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.

There are more effective ways of dealing with shedding.

It’s the simple truth: pets with hair shed, and short-haired cats shed just as much as long-haired ones — the long hair is simply more visible. In fact, shedding is a sign of a healthy feline.

You might think shaving your cat is the best way to avoid shedding, but there are less drastic ways to handle the situation. Brushing your cat daily will reduce the amount of hair that lands on your furniture and clothing. 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.

There are simpler methods for removing mats than shaving your cat.

Matted fur occurs more often in long-haired cats than in short-haired ones. These mats can be a result of infrequent grooming on either the cat’s or human’s part. Brushing your cat daily — especially if your kitty has long hair — prevents mats from developing in the first place. Not only is brushing excellent for kitty’s coat, it also helps bond the cat and his human.

Another reason mats form is because a cat is struggling with obesity and often can’t reach certain areas of his body while grooming. Painful mats can form, leaving kitty feeling uncomfortable. Cats who eat a high-protein diet and participate in regular exercise tend to avoid obesity. If you suspect your cat is overweight, contact your vet for recommendations.

Many times, small mats can be removed by untangling the hair with fingers or a brush. If that’s not possible, take your cat to a professional groomer or veterinarian. 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.

Your cat doesn’t need to be shaved into a Stegosaurus, a lion or anything else.

Give your kitty some style with a fun breakaway collar or a colorful ID tag instead.

The final answer to “Can you shave a cat?”

Can you shave a cat? Yes, you can shave a cat, but you should only shave a cat in very specific situations. There could be times when your cat needs to be shaved, but those are either medically necessary or due to a cat’s discomfort. Daily brushing and quality food can prevent some of the other reasons why you may consider the procedure, but always leave the clippers and scissors to a trained professional.

Thumbnail: Photography by ollegN/Thinkstock.

Read more on cats and grooming on Catster.com:

29 thoughts on “Can You Shave a Cat? Should You Ever Shave a Cat?”

  1. I have 2 long hair cats that won’t allow me to brush them. They got matted so I had them shaved. They loved it! I guess they can feel it better when you pet them, and gently scratch their backs. They love to be pet now and will hardly leave me alone. Now I get them shaved twice a year because it is very obvious that they are much happier this way.

  2. My cat is long haired and has never liked to clean himself so he gets mattes very easily. He also absolutely hates to be brushed, he’ll bite your hands off. So he has always been a candidate for being shaved for these reasons.

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  6. I am very glad that I read this article. I am planning to get a cat to be a support animal for me while I go through some very difficult stuff. I thought it was normal to shave a cat, but now that you’ve said that it is not a good idea, I am definitely not going to shave my cat -if I get one. I love how you provided alternatives for shaving that are effective. I am especially interested in brushing a cats fur. If that will help my future cat, I will absolutely brush her as often as needed.

    1. Thanks for reading and best of luck with adding a furry family member to your life!
      These articles might provide some good insight on grooming, too:

      1. We have 4 cats the fuzziest one loves winter and hates summer, she spends 90 percent of the season laying on the floor in the basement I was thinking about shaving her this year which is how I can across this. Is there anything wrong with buzzing her coat down to 5/8”-3/4” so she’s not so fuzzy and can isn’t tormented by the heat? She does terrible in the heat and I have a hard time believing it’s not from the extra fluff. We also own her mom and brother.

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  8. There is a difference between shaving and clipping. A cat groomer will not “shave” a cat, which will cause skin damage. Rather, they will clip/cut the hair close to the skin, using very fine clippers and making sure the skin does not get cut or chafed.

    1. That’s not accurate. My vets office always shaved my fur ball . No clipping, he’s definitely shaved and when he gets home, he’s prancing as if he’s so glad all that hair is off of him

  9. Cats have loose, thin skin. It is very easy to cut the skin and cause the cat to avoid even fight grooming again. Let a professional do it and the cat will blame the groomer. Then they will not be afraid of you.

  10. Our cat, Sunshine, had her first shaving last year. She was matted everywhere and would not let me comb or brush her. She was 26 last year (now 27). It hurt her for us to even pet her. We took her to the vet and they did a great job getting rid of all the mats. This year her fur is so fine that there is no need for further shaves this summer. She stays in and I use a soft brush to keep her looking pretty. Maybe next year she will need another shave!

  11. I’ve had 7 cats, mostly rescues and all but one were short fur. The long fur baby will tolerate brushing, and very careful untangling of her fur to a point (we call it “spa day”, and do this several times per week on top of regular brushing) but she will still on occasion get little mats under her arm pits, chin or derriere. I have not had to resort to shaving yet, but I know she’s uncomfortable when she comes to me looking for spa day, and the most pleasant way to help her would be to shave her underbelly to prevent them in the first place.

    I feel like this article is written in a way that shames anyone who needs to shave their cat. Not everyone has the time I have to work on their cat, and still I fail from time to time.

      1. We have 4 cats the fuzziest one loves winter and hates summer, she spends 90 percent of the season laying on the floor in the basement I was thinking about shaving her this year which is how I can across this. Is there anything wrong with buzzing her coat down to 5/8”-3/4” so she’s not so fuzzy and can isn’t tormented by the heat? She does terrible in the heat and I think it’s from her extra fluff

  12. I have a rescue Nebelung (Smokey Robinson!) and have him groomed twice each year. I live in South Florida where it gets pretty hot and humid in the summer, and Smokey is an indoor-outdoor cat. So, we shave the area on his belly between the four legs totally clean twice each year. He will not let me brush there, so it becomes a mess quickly.

    We also trim his mane to make it even and the area under his tail for hygiene reasons. Other than that, he gets a minor trimming all over and has to be sedated for this to occur. My grooming lady is terrific now that we have a routine, and Smokey seems to be OK with all of this. Of course, he doesn’t say much…but he does demand to be brushed AT LEAST 3 times a day!

  13. One of our cats does get shaved. He is the only one out of many cats we have had that has needed to be shaved. He is a medium long haired and the matts are so severe he gets hot spots.
    He has very unusual fur… it feels almost angora like not like other long haired cats we have had about. You cant brush his matts out and his hair is so fine him just sleeping tangles him up.
    We have him shaved once per year right before it gets hot out (he got shaved last week) and he prances about all happy I think because he feels so much better and he and I arent waging the war against matts except he still gets brushed where his fur is at- head, legs, tail.
    He was a rescue, and when we got him 12 years ago his fur was so bad his first shaving it came off in one sheet of mess :/
    I do TNR and have for 20+ years, our own cats including him are either ferals who no one wanted because of medical issues or in his case he had an ‘attitude’ and was to be put down He is the only cat in all of those years who has had to be shaved. He isnt shaved to be cute, there is just no other way for him to have a good quality of life otherwise.

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  15. We adopted out Bruno, who had been feral for 2-4 years before the rescue got him, a few years back. For a few weeks, we tried to hand de-mat, gently trim and brush his belly, which was one big matted clump, but he was having none of it, hiding whenever he saw the brush. The mats were actually so old they lead to Bru having a not so pleasant smell.

    At the vet’s suggestion, we took him in for a dose of kitty magic and a quick shave down of his underbelly area. He was totally bald from armpit to leg pit!

    Bruno (and us) were SO MUCH happier after. It took a while for his plush fur to come back, but when it did it was soft, clean and beautiful. Or, as we tell Bru he is when he gets done being brushed, Bru-Tiful!

    Now he knows that brushing is a treat. Every morning he reminds us so we don’t forget by pawing at the brush and flopping in ‘his spot’ belly up. It’s actually adorable because he’ll present one leg, than another and so forth to be brushed out. He knows how yucky mats are!

    We’ve never had to shave him since, even when he goes on outdoor walking harness adventures. A good brushing is all Bru needs.

  16. Make sure to never shave the legs as it will remove the whiskers on their legs. They are essential for space orientation.

  17. I have a groomer shave my three long haired cats twice a year for the last three years. I have noticed they are more comfortable, less hairballs and less work for me. I don’t go in for fancy haircuts just shave the main body and leave the tail, head, legs long. Another thing that it helps me with is examining their bodies for lumps/bumps/sore. I have one cat that has a chronic skin disease and this really helps with her scratching and itching. It also shows me where a ‘hot spot’ is showing up.

  18. Hazel L Troendle

    I shave one cat. She is a longhair and she has terrible joints. So, any manipulation of her body causes pain. I have decide, after 11 years of grooming issues, to shave her. I still do nails so she does have to deal with that pain ( I use a muzzle as she bites toward the end ). But, I no longer fight will over brushing and her matting. She goes to the vet, goes to sleep and when she wakes up her hair is down to around one quarter to one half inch long on her body. She is far happier with me this way. But, in 33 years of owning cats she is the only one I get shaved. Most of my cats have been medium haired. But, I did have another longhaired cat. I brushed her, no shaving.

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