Second Chance: Cat Mohawk?

Second Chance: Cat Mohawk?

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 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 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  the phrase, “cool cats”…)   

Although it’s still important to keep your kitty hydrated with fresh water, shaving 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 suspect overheating. The signs can include (but are not limited to) the following: 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 daily. Additionally, a diet high in protein makes a cat’s coat healthy and will reduce some shedding. That 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. (Please brush 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 under 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.

Vetting the Vet: Dr. Michelle Dally, DVM, J.D. is Medical Director of Second Chance Humane Society. She also has a private practice, Dally Veterinary Medicine, 333 S. Elizabeth Street, Ridgway, Colorado. Her service area is  San Miguel Mesas, Placerville, Ridgway, Ouray, and Montrose. For more on Dr. Dally, go here.

Michelle & Wallowby

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