The Lion Cut – pros and cons

Some people love the aesthetic and look of a cat with a lion cut, and others wonder why get a cat with hair and then shave it all off! As with anything there are pros and cons to the decision and ultimately it is very much own to the individual needs of the cat and their humans. 

Sarah Mackay and Fern Gresty - The iPET Network

Lion cuts are a topic of debate among a lot of groomers and humans who share their lives with cats. It is also really important that anyone considering turning their hand to cat grooming has the proper training, and that is why the iPET Network launched the UK's first ever cat grooming portfolio of qualifications, which enable existing and first time groomers to explore this industry niche.

In the latest iPET Network cat grooming column, tutor, master level holistic mobile cat groomer and feline complementary holistic therapist Katie Gwilt shares her views on the pros and cons of the lion cut trend...

Katie Gwilt

Pros of a Lion Cut:

Removing Widespread Mats - Lion cuts can be essential for cats who have widespread matting or are pelted over multiple areas of their body. Up to a point, there is usually a choice to spot shave, but at some stage the kindest thing to do is to remove all the fur and let it all grow back at the same speed and with some guidance on how to groom the cat in future to keep the matting from getting out of control again.

Problems with Dense Fur - Some cats have really dense fur and find it very difficult to groom themselves. If they don’t like their human to help with the grooming then sometimes a lion cut is the best way to keep them healthy and happy. Likewise, some cats with mobility issues may need modified lion cuts to help keep them clean when using the litter tray etc.

Brachycephalic (flat-faced) cats - Persians cats in particular can have very flat faces with tiny little noses set very high up. This can create breathing problems and overheating, so at times a lion cut can help their health and wellbeing.

Allergies and Busy/Young Households – Lion cuts can be a way to help deal with allergies or a new addition to the family. Bathing cats can also help remove allergens but, again it depends on the cat and also what the human’s needs are. The people in your life may change or you may not realise someone has an allergy before getting a cat, so it’s finding the best way to manage this for everyone's wellbeing.

Cons of a Lion Cut:

Fur regrowth - One issue with shaving a cat is that there is no guarantee that the fur will grow back the same colour or texture as before. There is also the possibility that it may not grow back at all or may grow back patchy and at different speeds. This is always something you should consider before making a decision.

Myth of being cooler in the summer - A lot of people suggest a lion cut in the summer to help keep their cat cooler. Cats don’t sweat through their skin though like us humans. I mean, just imagine the state of a sweaty cat! They sweat through their paw pads and a little through their noses. I’ve found that a good way to help cats who struggle in the summer is to do a tummy trim, because then, when they find a nice cool spot to lie on they can absorb the cool from the floor without any risk of sunburn.

Fellow master groomer Heidi Anderton also adds as a contrast that if the coat is matted the skin can't breathe and the cat will get overheated, so this is something for groomers to consider on a case by case basis.

Possibility of injury - Clippers are very sharp and cats’ skin is very thin. Skin can also be very loose on an older cat or tight on the bones on a thin cat so a lot of care needs to be taken. Cats are sentient beings and can move very quickly so special care needs to be taken around the tummy, armpits and any bony areas like joints.

A final note on temperature and older cats - Older cats need to be kept warm to stay healthy. They are more susceptible to the colder weather just like older humans are. It’s always worth having a think about the time of year you are looking to have your cat shaved. Heidi suggests a nice warm jumper, as shaving a pelted coat can make them feel naked and vulnerable, the jumper makes a huge difference.

As you can see there are arguments both for and against having your cat shaved into a lion cut. It’s always good to do some research before making a decision like this and weighing up what is ultimately best for your cat. Personally, I don’t recommend them lightly and they are never my first port of call, even with matted cats.