Pros and Cons of Lion Cuts for Cats

Contributor: Mychelle Blake
Lion cut before and after

If you have a long-haired kitty, there are times it may make sense to take him to a groomer who specializes in lion cuts for cats. Lion cuts aren't always the right choice, but this method of shaving a cat's body and leaving his face and neck fur intact can be beneficial during especially hot seasons or if your cat is prone to mats.

Cats Shaved Like Lions

A lion cut is the fur style given to long-haired cats where the body of the cat is clipped nearly down to the skin. There are a few variations on the cut, but the basic look leaves the cat with very short fur on his body and legs, while his face, neck and most if not all of his tail are left alone.

Variations on the Cut

There are a few variations on the cut. All lion cuts leave the cat's face and neck alone, but some variations can include:

  • Shaving the entire leg and top of the paws
  • Shaving only the top half of each leg, leaving a thick, hairy "boot" on each paw
  • Leaving the fur on the tail long
  • Shaving most of the tail, leaving only a small "pom-pom" of fur at the very end
  • Leaving the chest hair intact as part of the "mane"
  • Leaving a strip of fur along the spine for a "dino" cut

How Long Before the Hair Grows Back?

If you give your cat a lion cut for the first time and decide that you and your cat would be happier back to his "natural look," you can expect his hair to grow fully back over the course of a few months. For a short-haired breed, it should take about three months on average. A long-haired cat may take as long as six months to return to his full-length coat.

Why Give a Cat a Lion Cut

Flickr user jon_a_ross/Jon Ross

While cats given a lion cut certainly have style, this is not generally the reason the cat is shaved. There are several reasons why it may be a good idea to have your cat given this cut, at least temporarily.

Easier Maintenance

Long-haired cats need a great deal of grooming. While most cats do self-groom, long-haired breeds require more care. Their fur should be brushed or combed on a weekly basis to help with shedding and to reduce mats. Busy cat owners may find that clipping their long-haired cats into a lion cut can help cut down on the amount of grooming that is required.

Eliminating Mats

If the cat is not brushed regularly, or has a hard time with self-grooming, mats may build up in the fur. If these mats are left alone, they may twist, pinch or otherwise harm the skin beneath them, leading to open wounds. Cats that develop frequent mats, or that have fur that has become heavily matted can be given a lion cut to help deal with the problem.

Hairballs

During warmer weather as your cat begins to shed, your long-haired breed may be at a higher risk of developing hairballs. As the cat grooms his shedding fur, he may ingest more than can be safely passed through his digestive system. This can lead to vomiting, choking or bowel obstructions that may require surgery. Clipping the fur into a lion cut eliminates this problem.

Excessive Heat

Lion cut

If you live in a warm climate, your long-haired cat may have difficulty dealing with the heat. Lion cuts greatly reduce the amount of hair on a cat, helping her stay cooler during the hotter months.

Trouble With Self-Care

If your cat is older, obese or depressed, he may have difficulty keeping himself clean and well groomed. Cats with longer fur may have increased difficulty with self-care as they age, because they may not have the flexibility to reach all their fur. Finally some cats, strange as it may seem, are just bad at self-grooming. Clipping them into a lion cut can help your cat self-groom more effectively.

Reduces Shedding

Giving your cat a lion cut won't actually reduce the amount that he sheds, but since the hairs will be much shorter, it will seem to you like there's less hair being deposited around the house. This can be a boon for some human allergy sufferers as well.

Problems With the Lion Cut

While the lion cut is largely beneficial to both cats and their owners, there can be a few drawbacks to it as well.

Stressful for the Cat

Some cats may not object to being shaved, but for others it may be a stressful situation. Lion cuts are usually given at a veterinary offices or pet groomer, which means a trip in a car and an unfamiliar situation for your cat to be in. For some cats, the anxiety may be so great they need to be sedated before being clipped. Cats may also be very uncomfortable being shaved in general and you may see them display unusual symptoms such as hiding, refusing to eat, and depression.

Expense

If you keep your cat in a lion cut for long periods of time, the expense can add up. Depending on how thick your cat's fur is, how fast it grows, and how fast mats or other problems develop, you may be looking at monthly trips to the groomer or vet. The cost can run on average $80 to $120 or more for each visit.

Sunburn Is a Hazard

If you have a cat that goes outdoors, a lion cut can make their skin much more accessible to the harmful rays of the sun, which means irritated skin and sunburns. Cats with paler fur will be at even higher risk. This isn't related to season either as a cat can be sunburned and windburned in the winter as well as the summer. Cats that are shaved also have vulnerable skin overall which means they can get more cuts, scrapes and other irritations without their fur to protect them. If you're going to give your cat a lion cut, it's best to keep them indoors all year round.

Inability to Regulate Body Temperature

One of the ways that animals, including cats, maintain their body temperature is through their fur. You might think a cat that's been shaved will be cooler in the summer but they can actually become overheated or too cold if they lose their ability to thermoregulate. Senior cats and sickly cats are at an increased risk for this problem if they're shaved and certain medical problems like cancer and heart disease may make shaving inadvisable.

Keep Your Cat Comfortable

For many long-haired cats, a lion cut can help with many of the problems that long-haired breeds face. Consider getting your cat clipped if any of these issues arise and enjoy her new look while it lasts.

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Pros and Cons of Lion Cuts for Cats