First, what is a “Lion Shave”?
A classic “Lion Shave” is the shaving the body and belly of a long or short-haired feline smooth, to the skin with varying options of shaving the tail, leaving a traditional “tuff” at the end and leaving the neck ruff according to the owners preference or condition of the cat. It should NOT include the head or cheeks, or the limbs and paws as these are all very sensitive areas with tendons and whiskers, plus very easy to nick . There is no professional justification to shave these areas. Cats have very flexible and thin skin and it is very easy for a pet groomer to accidentally cut your cat simply by using the same tools and grooming routine as they would for a dog. Please never attempt a lion shave at home, and find a certified master cat groomer in your area.
- Cat is very matted to the skin and it is the only humane option.
Reasons owners “think” they need a lion-shave:
- Owner or family member is allergic to cat and rather than give it up, shave it.
- Cat is obese and can’t “groom itself”
- To keep a longhaired cat “cooler” for summer
- Cat is an heavy shedder or suffers from excessive hairballs
- Cat has irregular hair growth stemming from an underlying health problem
- Chronic flea problems. Owner can closely monitor any re-infestations.
- Owner lifestyle preference
- Prevent mats from occurring again. Only a proper de-greasing bath followed by a professional blow-dry on a regular schedule will prevent mats. A conscientious cat owner can easily break the cycle of oscillating from dirty shave-down to dirty shave-down with a regular professional bath n comb schedule.
- Stop shedding indefinitely. Once the hair starts to grows out, the shedding cycle starts again. A regular bath and comb routine is the best strategy to reduce shedding.
- Keep your long-haired cat cooler. Cats don’t sweat through their skin like humans, BUT if the hair is matted, it creates a barrier trapping the heat in. Regular professional grooming reduces loose hair and permits air to circulate through the fur freely, as it was meant to, providing both a cooling and warming effect depending on the season.
- Absolve the owner from a regular grooming schedule. Oscillating from severely matted to shave-downs is willful neglect and irresponsible on the part of the cat owner.
Reasons NOT to do the lion shave:
- Repeated shaving causes follicular dysplasia and occlusions, to the detriment of your cat’s skin and hair health.
- Cat skin is 30% more absorbent of it’s environment than human skin. You have removed natural defences to toxins, parasites, etc.
- Your cat is elderly or has a delicate physiology. The skin is very thin and often dehydrated, plus over a bony structure and therefore very easy to nick.
- Your cat has an underlying health condition. Whether it is diabetes, heart condition, or autoimmune diseases, the risks outweigh any benefit, plus be warned, the hair may never grow back in.
- Your cat is aggressive or intolerant. Sharp instruments mixed with a defensive cat can only have disastrous results. Cats that don’t tolerate any handling at home are not good candidates for lion trims. Lion trims are the most invasive type of grooming, requiring precision and lots of rolling, stretching, and clippers in sensitive areas. An intolerant cat does much better with a regular (and more forgiving) comb trims or bath n comb schedules to keep them in good condition. Just not the precision shaving with clippers. If the cat is very matted and aggressive, it may be referred to being groomed under veterinary care for its own safety.
Is shaving a cat cruel?
- If it is matted, NOT shaving the cat is cruel. There could be parasites, bruising, or sores lurking under that pelt, not to mention the possibility of a septic cat with poop stuck to it’s rear end. It’s grumpy and doesn’t move much because every step hurts with the hair pulling tighter and tighter every day. Cat torture by neglect.
Is there a better option?
Many cat owners aren’t aware that a regular pajamas trim can resolve all the perceived “hair” issues without the extreme of destructive shaving. A pajamas trim clippers the hair about 4 to 26 mm away from the skin surface, greatly reducing risks from clipper nicks, follicular dysplasia and occlusions, along with keeping the cat cleaner longer without shaving.
For allergy suffers, a regular bath routine will remove the dander and saliva which is the source of proteins causing reactions. It is NOT the hair!
Another option is just shaving some problem areas like the belly, inner thighs, and sani- area. You can keep the full-coated look and tame the gnarly feline underworld.
Photos of Lion Shave Variations: