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Grooming/shaving long-haired cats

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
The shelter where I volunteer has two long-haired white cats who are badly in need of grooming. The shelter director wanted to have them shaved for the summer, but both of the local vets have said they would do it only if the cats are sedated. The cost to the shelter is prohibitive---and that's not even taking into consideration the risk of anesthesia for 7-year-old cats. I really don't understand why they won't consider doing it without sedation. These are two of the calmest cats I've ever met. Milo let me cut a huge mat out of his fur today and never even twitched when the kittens pounced on his tail in the middle of the process.

I'm thinking about doing the shave myself, but I'm not sure how I should go about it. Does anyone here shave their own cats? What do you use? I thought maybe a beard-trimming kit would work. That way I could set it to leave maybe 1/2" of fur and decrease the risk of cutting them. There is a separate room where I can take them to keep the kittens out of their hair (literally ).

Any suggestions?

Jax


Milo
post #2 of 14
Many vets will not shave an unsedated cat because of them strugling and possibly clawing or biting, no matter how calm they normally are. I have had to try to shave dense mats off of my own cats occasionally. From the pictures, I have certainly seen worse. How far away from the skin are the mats? Can you get your fingers underneath? You can try using a home hair cutting kit, but because the mats can get in the way, you may have to just use it without one of the offset combs. You will probably need help with someone else holding the cats while you shave them. If you do have trouble with them being upset by the razor, you may want to ask your vet for a travel tranquilizer, which just mellows them out. Also, contact a pet groomer, they may be able to help you, and if you can find the right one, may even be willing to do pro bono work for you. Best of luck.
post #3 of 14
Oh, they're gorgeous kitties! I could see their coats being a major attraction for anyone wanting to adopt them.

My suggestion, talk to groomers in the area to see how they do it and price. Since it's for a shelter, and if you have someone who's very persuasive, it may be possible to talk them into a lower price or free if it's seen as a donation somehow. Surely any smart business owner would see such as a great opportunity to make themselves look good. Stocking their business cards and word of mouth advertisement would be just as beneficial as an ad in the paper and probably what shaving a couple cats would cost.
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
Surely any smart business owner would see such as a great opportunity to make themselves look good. Stocking their business cards and word of mouth advertisement would be just as beneficial as an ad in the paper and probably what shaving a couple cats would cost.
Just to add to this, with so many shelters running a web site, you could possible also offer them some ad space on the website if you have one, or put up flyers for the groomers, etc.

Oh, and to let you know, these two look like a cat that I adopted as an adult, and then had for another 15 years. I still remember you fondly Snowy.
post #5 of 14
Can I ask WHY you want to shave these cats? Are they badly matted?

If they are not badly matted I can't think of any good reason to shave these cats. No matter how calm, gentle and slow you are with the shaving it is a very stressful process for the cat. I do shave cats regularly [as a groomer] and see no benefit to the cat unless they are very matted. Shaving them "for summer" is not a good reason as their coats will not cause them to overheat in the summer. If there are some mats, but not an overwhelming amount, you may be better off just clipping them with scissors and trying to comb the cats regularly. It would be less stressful for them.

If you are shaving these cats due to matting, then you should really seek the help of a professional groomer. The proper blades should be used based on the tightness of the mats along with the sensitivity of the cats skin. Perhaps you can ask around and find a groomer experienced with cats that is willing to cut you a deal since it's for shelter cats.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the suggestions. There are two or three pet groomers in town. We may be able to develop a relationship with one or more of them, that will have to be up to the director.

Let me give you a little more background. These two beauties were surrendered to the shelter four months ago because they have allergies. I don't know the full story: financial reasons? tired of taking care of the cats?

Anyway, Milo was more frightened at first and I suspect he didn't get groomed very often the first month or so. When I started volunteering in May the only grooming tool in the cat room was a slicker brush, not the thing for long haired cats. The brush probably just slid right over any tangles and mats. Milo had a really bad mat on his back near his hip. There's a fairly large bald spot next to it which could have been from him biting or scratching, or possibly the hair got pulled out whenever the mat got shifted when he was moving. I managed to cut that mat out a couple of days ago, along with two smaller ones on his tail. I'll have to take more time to check, but I think those were the worst.

The director was wanting to have them shaved because of the heat. At this point, we'll probably just try to keep them better groomed. Unfortunately, there aren't enough volunteers who have time to do it daily. I only go in once or twice a week. There are now a couple of good combs in the cat room that work very well on long fur. Both of these boys LOVE to be combed. Jax turns over on his back and zones out while I'm combing his belly. They aren't quite as happy about having their ears cleaned.
post #7 of 14
I would not shave a cat unless they were so badly matted that dematting could not be done without hurting them (or without them hurting you.)
I would not shave a cat because of it being summer.
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldyCat View Post
Thanks for all the suggestions. There are two or three pet groomers in town. We may be able to develop a relationship with one or more of them, that will have to be up to the director.
I hope the director is open to any suggestions you have - most people aren't because they'd prefer to hold onto current thoughts and procedures.

I'm glad they love to be combed, thats the biggest part of the battle with most kitties that end up with mats.
I don't understand why they only had a slicker brush. In my experience, most cats usually don't even like these.

Good luck with those boys!
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldyCat View Post
The director was wanting to have them shaved because of the heat.
I know you are in Arizona and I've been there in the summer when it gets so hot. Does the shelter have sufficient air conditioning to keep them cool? If so, keep up the grooming. If not, then pursue with a groomer but don't cut their hair too short. Their coats are beautiful as is!!

I have a friend with a very long haired white cat who is shaved each year in the late spring. She doesn't have A/C and it can get in the upper 90's low 100's in her area. Her cat also has a skin condition that is aggrevated in the heat. So they do him for medical reasons. His hair is so long (his main was measured at 6 inches), that he lost 1/2 pound of fur during his last shave. Her vet does it and they do have to sedate him. And if you do it, white cats look better with "boots" rather than "knee highs" - you can't shave their paws and you have to decide how far down their legs you want to go. The closer to the paws you go the better it looks.
post #10 of 14
I have my Thufir shaved every year. Typically I have him shaved twice - once in early Spring to get all the mats out of the fur and again in the early Fall to hold off on the formation of mats as his Winter coat come in. This past year, his belly was so badly matted I got his underside shaved in January, but it was too cold so I didn't have him shaved completely. I have to get him shaved because he won't tolerate any sort of grooming that pulls on his fur. He'll let me cut the mats a little bit, but when his new coat starts coming in they start showing up all at once and for every one that I cut out he picks up 2 more. Luckily, when I take him to the groomer, he becomes a perfect angel. In many cases the groomer hasn't even needed her assistant to help hold him. Here's a before and after picture of him:





If you are going to consider shaving these beauties in house, I'd see how they react to a pair of clippers first. Have someone (preferably with long sleeves and gloves on) hold the cat. If you can turn the clippers on and bring them near the cat without him panicking, then there's a good chance you could groom him. If he struggles and starts to go crazy at the sound of the clippers, you almost certainly won't be able to groom him without anesthesia.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
I hope the director is open to any suggestions you have - most people aren't because they'd prefer to hold onto current thoughts and procedures.

I'm glad they love to be combed, thats the biggest part of the battle with most kitties that end up with mats.
I don't understand why they only had a slicker brush. In my experience, most cats usually don't even like these.

Good luck with those boys!
The shelter just opened in February this year and most of the cat toys, beds, brushes, etc. are whatever has been donated. The current director is the second one we've had so far. She's very open to any changes that are for the good of the animals. The hard part is that she's turned over most of the responsibility for the cats to another full-time employee who is not so knowledgeable and who resents any hint that she may not be doing the best job. It usually works better if I talk to the director and then she passes on suggestions to the other woman.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
I know you are in Arizona and I've been there in the summer when it gets so hot. Does the shelter have sufficient air conditioning to keep them cool? If so, keep up the grooming. If not, then pursue with a groomer but don't cut their hair too short. Their coats are beautiful as is!!
The air conditioning is actually pretty good, cool enough to be comfortable but not too cold.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grogs View Post

If you are going to consider shaving these beauties in house, I'd see how they react to a pair of clippers first. Have someone (preferably with long sleeves and gloves on) hold the cat. If you can turn the clippers on and bring them near the cat without him panicking, then there's a good chance you could groom him. If he struggles and starts to go crazy at the sound of the clippers, you almost certainly won't be able to groom him without anesthesia.
For the time being I think we will just stick with combing them. If I do take clippers or a shaver in, I would just turn it on the first few days for them to get used to the sound. They are also front declawed which decreases the risk of getting scratched in the process.
post #12 of 14
IF you end up shaving down these cats I'd like to suggest you do this with a 4 or 5 blade. Most groomers will do a lion cut with a 10, which is extremely short - 1/16". A 4 blade is 3/8", a 5 is 1/4".

But again, my recommendation is still to clip out the few mats and wait for the hair to fill in, while continuing with combing. Though daily combing is ideal, I know that it's unlikely in a shelter situation. A few times a week is probably sufficient. This will make it easier for future owners to maintain their natural coats if they are already used to and enjoying regular combing.
post #13 of 14
I have Tuffy shaved a few times a year....but we only shave his butt....just from under his tail, down to his feet. It keeps life fresh. I also trim under his front legs, what is = to his arm pits. He matts really bad in that area.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'll be going to the shelter in the morning and will see where we are with the grooming. I only spend 3-4 hours a week there. Part of the time is taking pictures and the rest is usually trimming claws and cleaning ears and eyes. Unfortunately, it appears that I'm the only one who does any of that. I'll have to make sure I take time to comb Jax and Milo really well when I'm there.
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