Lion Cut + Old, skinny cat = Blood + Stitches

Bad human!
Yep. You don’t want to be the one who did this.

There’s a heap of denial among cat-loving humans who have skinny, old cats.

Is a cute-looking haircut and less fur on the sofa worth blood and stitches? If you say HECK YEAH! then go to it. Fire up that clipper.

I’m of the opinion that the answer is HECK NO.  I won’t do a lion cut if the cat is likely to be nicked during the shaving process.

I do make an exception for old cats who are so matted that they are uncomfortable. Their comfort is important, so it’s worth the risk.

Long-haired old cats stay dirtier and can’t deal with their own fur. Their tongue is worn out, I guess, not to mention the arthritis. They’re like that uncle who drinks too much and can’t remember to comb his hair . . . . you know, the uncle with the shirts covered with stains? You won’t do his laundry because who knows what he’s gotten into?

Cat skin is as thick as your eyelid. Think about that. You want me to come over and shave your eyelid?

The technical, boring discussion is below. You can skip it, unless you’re deeply interested in shaving cat’s privates.

1. Cat clippers work best on a flat plane. They zip along a flat surface and get every last hair off quickly and safely.

2. Cat clippers on an angle aim the blade at tender skin.  The blade isn’t parallel to the skin.  It’s going INTO the skin.  DANGER ZONES: clipping the fur in the underarms or between the rear legs. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing” thin skin combined with peaks and valleys. DANGER.

3. The thinner the cat, the more peaks and valleys, and the harder it is to shave safely. Shaving a fat cat is like shaving a balloon. It’s much easier to  shave a fat cat than a skinny cat.

4. The older the cat, the thinner and looser the skin.

Comb your cat every day, gently work on the mats with a comb, or maybe a round-tip scissor. If you’re a butterfingers be patient.  Spend some money on my services if you can’t do it yourself.

Awwww. Kisses.
Awwww. Kisses.

 

 

 

 

Arthritis common in cats. Pay attention to their movements.

“Factors related to the presence of OA included advancing age, decreased mobility and grooming, and increased inappropriate elimination. This study supports findings of other studies in the last 10 years and reinforces the fact that OA is very common in middle-aged and older cats, and is associated with behavior changes.”

From “Osteoarthritis in Cats. Cat Health News from the Winn Feline Foundation.”

If your middle-aged or senior cat doesn’t like to be groomed, they may have a good reason.  Arthritis makes some movements more painful.  If you notice a reduction in movement, it’s your turn to pick up the slack. Gently and patiently help your cat groom themselves. If you can’t do this, then look for a cat groomer who understands the aches and pains of old age in cats.

Arthritis in older cats & grooming matted seniors

Imagine what it would be like if a hairdresser pulled on your grandmother’s arms and legs while doing her hair.  Would your grandmother be happy or upset?  Would you feel good about the situation, or would you feel worried?

Grooming the older, matted cat poses challenges which are distinct from the challenges involved in grooming a young or middle-aged cat. Cats whose fur is matted require either de-matting with a comb/brush, or shaving/trimming the fur, in addition to bathing. Bathing relieves the skin of excess oil, dandruff and dirt.  Trimming the claws is part of the health care process, since elderly cats can develop ingrown claws which penetrate the paw pad.

A younger cat may object to being groomed, but as long as the groomer is careful, discomfort can be avoided.

With an older, matted cat, discomfort may be unavoidable due to arthritis.

“In one study published in 2002, 90% of cats over 12 years of age had evidence of degenerative joint disease. This included cats with so-called ‘spondylosis’ of the spine (a form of degenerative joint disease). However, even when these cases were excluded, around ⅔ of the cats still had radiographic signs of arthritis affecting the limb joints. More recent studies have shown radiographic evidence of arthritis in the limb joints affecting between 60% and more than 90% of cats. All these studies show that arthritis is actually very common in cats, that it is much more common (and more severe) in older cats, and that the shoulders, hips, elbows, knees (stifles) and ankles (tarsi) are the most commonly affected joints.”

(Published in International Cat Care, “Arthritis and degenerative joint disease in cats.”)

I prefer to groom senior cats on a two to four week schedule, so that mats don’t get the chance to form.  When shaving matted underarms and groins, it is difficult to avoid holding the elderly cat in a position that will put stress on their joints, since the skin must be stretched taut to avoid nicking their fragile skin.

The best option is frequent brushing and combing sessions with a cat groomer, so that the stresses of shaving can be avoided. Letting the cat live with mats is not an option.  Mats pull at the skin, prevent air circulation, and create fertile ground for infection.

It is far easier to gently brush fur and comb fur than it is to complete a full body shave.  Think of your grandmother (the nice one, not the mean one) . . . now call the cat groomer.

Cinnamon, I miss you!