Well-groomed cats stay cool in summer. Shaving not necessary.

There are reasons to shave a cat, but temperature is not one of them. Best way to keep your cat cool? Frequent brushing, water, shade.

From MPC of Texas (Mobile Pet Care Clinics)

Unlike humans, the skin of dogs and cats does not contain the vast network of blood vessels and sweat glands designed to dissipate body heat during hot weather conditions. True, dogs do possess sweat glands in their footpads, but these glands play a minimal role in overall thermoregulation. Despite being sweat-gland deficient, dogs and cats have an uncanny ability to vaporize large amounts of water from their lungs and airways, water that carries heat from the body when they pant.

Shaving pets for the summer can actually predispose them to sun burn and to heat exhaustion/heat stroke. Long hair and thick undercoats act as insulation against the sun’s rays and their effects. Coats that are kept well-brushed and mat-free allow for good air circulation through the hair, which in itself can actually have a cooling effect. On the contrary, matted, unkempt hair coats stifle air circulation and do little to help cool the body. In other words, daily brushing is a must during the hot, summer months.

Here’s a prime example: My 2 year old Boxer, Titan (who has a short hair coat) and my 8 year old mix, Gobi ( who has long hair with a thick undercoat) love to go jogging with me. Both dogs are extremely fit, yet after 40 minutes in the Texas heat, Titan’s tongue is scraping the pavement, forcing regular water stops, whereas Gobi continues to just trot along like a canine version of Forrest Gump, seemingly oblivious to the heat. Keep pets cool and comfortable during the summer by keeping them well-groomed and by always providing a source of fresh water and shade. But don’t shave them. If you do, you’re only defeating the purpose and you may end up with a very expensive veterinary bill on your hands.”

BUT MOST CATS DON’T NEED TO PANT IN ORDER TO STAY COOL . . .

So how DO they stay cool? According to Dr. Bruce Carstens of Willow Rock Pet Hospital, “Because cats are generally around 10 pounds in size, they are small enough to regulate their temperature by decreasing their activity level and moving to the shade. The surface area of their skin is large enough in relation to their body mass to dissipate most heat build-up. If your cat gets hot or excited, you may see him pant for a short time, but it is not very common.”

 

Cat skin more than 50% thinner than dog skin

Why cat groomers need to be very careful when we shave a cat . . .

Human skin:  0.5 mm to 4.0 mm     *eyelids are 0.5 mm thick

Canine skin:  0.5 mm to 5.0 mm

Feline skin: 0.4 mm to 2.0 mm  

So the thickest part of your cat’s skin is still only 4 times as thick as your eyelid!!

25.4 mm = 1 inch

 

Sources:

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/15332170_Histologic_features_of_normal_canine_and_feline_skin

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/body/factfiles/skin/skin.shtml

 

 

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!