The Lion Cut Cat Grooming Technique UNPACKED

Cats Shaved Like Lions – Wait! What? 

The “Lion Cut” is a very popular and familiar haircut style for cats. It is used by cat groomers on medium- to long-haired cats that typically leave them looking like a lion! Lion cuts are generally reserved for cats that are prone to matting in their fur. However, there are various other reasons for cats to get lion cuts. 

cat lion cut

What is a Lion Cut?

A lion cut is a particular haircut for medium to long-haired cats that can provide many health benefits. It involves a very close trim that only leaves fur around the head, tail, and sometimes legs. As a result, cats with long-haired coats receive the lion cut more often than their short-haired feline counterparts. 

Explaining What the Lion Cut Looks Like

A lion cut consists of a very short trim from the shoulder blades down the back, sides, thighs, and underbelly. The tail is also clipped, and a tuft of fur is left on the end. The legs can either be clipped about halfway down to leave the lower legs fuller. This leaves the cat looking like they are wearing fluffy boots. 

The fur on the neck, head, and chest is generally untouched. This resembles a lion’s mane and gives the lion cut its name. 

Variations of this cut can be requested. For instance, the tail cannot be clipped, or more fur can be clipped off the neck and chest. High-risk areas should be left alone. This includes further down the legs and paws, where skin, ligaments, and tendons are sensitive to nicking. It also includes any whiskers on the cat and too high around the face and tail. 

Which Types of Cats Can Get a Lion Cut? Why?

Cats can get lion cuts whether they are long or short-haired. It is more common in long-haired breeds, but if necessary, short-haired cats will also get a lion cut. There are various reasons for a lion cut to be performed. 

Matting

The most common reason for obtaining a lion cut is due to matting of the fur. Matting of the fur occurs when a long-haired cat gets tangles in its fur that cannot be brushed out. 

Over time, these tangles become larger and harder. This then irritates the skin underneath and can cause damage. The cat becomes uncomfortable with the matting, and this can then become very painful. 

The matted fur pulls at the skin and causes irritation and even wounds. The safest way to remove matts is by a close clip. 

Old Age 

As some cats get older, they lose the ability to groom themselves. Grooming is an essential daily task for cats, and lack of grooming can cause many problems. These include matts, poor hair coat, and skin irritation. 

Older cats may have arthritis which causes pain when they try to groom. Cats can also lose interest in grooming. Alternatively, they may not groom themselves regularly enough to keep their coat in top condition. 

Warm Weather 

As temperatures soar in warmer months, some cats prefer having a lion cut to have relief from the heat. A lion cut in spring, or early summer can provide life-saving relief from high temperatures. 

Some owners opt to have a lion cut year-round, especially if their cat is indoor or their home is warm in the winter. Outdoor cats in the winter typically let the hair grow long to maintain warmth in colder months. 

Allergies

A lion cut can help humans in the household that are allergic to cats. In addition, a reduction in the amount of fur shed will often reduce the effect allergies can have on those who suffer from it. 

cutting hair on a cat

Shedding

A lion cut can also help to reduce the amount of shedding a cat does. It also makes grooming for owners much more manageable. This only reduces the shedding in the home for a period of time. 

Aesthetics

Some owners simply like the lion cut on their cat and will have it done year-round. This is rarely done and never recommended. 

Which Felines Are Not Suitable Candidates for the Lion Cut?

Not all cats are candidates for a lion cut. Grooming for most cats is a stressful experience and should only be done if necessary. 

Elderly cats, or cats in poor health, can be at a higher risk of becoming stressed or nicked during shaving. Stress in cats can be deadly, and only perfectly healthy cats should be candidates for a lion clip. 

Cats that are aggressive during the grooming process are also not suitable candidates. They can become overly stressed by clipping. This increases the likelihood of injury to the cat or groomer. 

In such cats, prevention of matts and skin irritation is vital. These cats require a regular grooming schedule to avoid matts entirely. Bath and blow drys can prevent matting, excessive shedding, dandruff, and much more. 

A List of Pros and Cons to The Lion Cut

There are a variety of pros and cons when getting a lion cut for your cat. While a majority of the time, it is a necessary procedure to remove matts, there are a few things to be aware of. 

Pros of a Lion Cut 

It Removes Matted Fur

As stated, if a cat’s coat has become severely matted, a close clip is the safest way to remove the tangles. Matts and tangles are very uncomfortable and irritate the skin. 

It Helps Reduce Hairballs 

Reducing the length of the body coat dramatically decreases the amount of hair a cat ingests when self-grooming. Hairballs can cause life-threatening intestinal blockages. Repetitive hairball issues can be an indicator for keeping a short coat. 

It Keeps the Coat Clean 

Some cats are poor self-groomers and do not do a good job maintaining their coats. This leads to their coat becoming dirty or scruffy and can then cause skin issues. A lion cut helps these cats maintain their coat health between grooming appointments. 

It’s Low Maintenance

The lion cut is easy to maintain between grooming appointments. This is perfect for cats that dislike being regularly brushed and groomed at home. 

It’s Easier for Senior Cats 

As mentioned, older cats can have difficulties self-grooming. This is a combination of stiffness in their joints and a lack of flexibility. Some older cats also lose interest in self-grooming or lapse between regular grooming. A short clip can keep them nice and tidy.

It Means Less Hair Around the House 

Although a short trim doesn’t prevent shedding, it does mean they shed shorter hairs. This reduces the amount of cat hair around the house, which can be a life-saver for those with allergies. 

Cons of a Lion Cut

Cats May Be More Susceptible to Sunburn 

A short clip exposes the skin to UV rays from the sun. Without its dense fur to protect the skin, some cats may experience sunburn. Therefore, it’s imperative to keep clipped cats indoors to prevent sunburn. This is of particular concern for white or light-skinned felines. 

Cats May Not Be Able to Thermoregulate

Very short hair can affect the way cats thermoregulate. This can cause them to become very cold or overheat once their coat is clipped. Elderly cats or those in poor health should always have a veterinary assessment before having a groom.

Less Skin Protection

A cat’s fur is vital for protecting the skin from potential injuries. This includes being damaged by fights with other cats or being scraped by thorns if it goes outside. 

Some Cats Don’t Like It 

Removing matts from a coat often reveals redness, irritation, and even bruising on the skin. This leads to very sensitive skin, and often having them exposed can be very harsh for the cat. 

Some cats have an adverse reaction to being styled in a lion cut. This can present as hiding away for days, hissing when touched, or changed eating habits.  

Some Cats Hate Hair Clippers 

The buzzing sound and vibrations of clippers can be very frightening for some cats. As a result, they can become aggressive and fractious around clippers. This leads to a high amount of stress which is detrimental to their health. 

How to Shave a Cat Like a Lion

Lion cuts should only be done by professional cat groomers and not at home. 

Equipment required

  • 2x #10 blades – blades can become very hot when clipping and should be switched to allow cooling to avoid burning the skin 
  • Clipper 
  • Nail clippers
  • Comb with wide and narrow teeth
  • Soft brush
  • Wire brush
  • Cornstarch – for really greasy fur or matts 
  • The cat should be lying down on the table in a comfortable position 

Method

  1. From the point of the shoulder blades, lay the clipper flat against the body and clip in the direction of hair growth. Clip from the shoulder blades to the base of the tail. Never clip in the opposite direction to hair growth.
  2. Clip in downward strokes down the sides of the body toward the belly. 
  3. When clipping the legs, clip only down to the wrist/ankle—holding the leg with your thumb as a border for where to stop clipping, cut in downward strokes toward your thumb. The skin on the legs is very delicate and should be handled with care. Soft, slow motions are essential. 
  4. The inside of the leg is clipped the same way, very slowly and carefully. 
  5. The belly is clipped similarly to the back with long downward strokes. The front legs are lifted to expose the abdomen. Be careful of the nipples! 
  6. The tail is either left full and luscious or can be clipped almost to the tip with the fur left at the end. 

How Long Will The Fur Take to Grow Back?

On average, it can take three months for a short hair cat to regrow their coat to full length. This can take between four to six months for a long-haired cat to regrow their coat. 

Hair regrowth can be affected by several factors. This includes: 

  • Cat age and overall health
  • Cat’s diet and coat condition 
  • Time of year 

Some hairs grow at a faster rate than others. There are different types that make up the cat’s coat. Guard hairs (the outer hair) typically grow faster. The undercoat is made of awn and dawn hairs which can take longer to reach the same length. 

A clean and healthy coat will also grow faster than a coat that is dull or damaged. This is the same for the state of the skin, with healthy skin allowing a quicker coat regrowth. On average, cat hair grows ¼ to ½ inches per month. 

The Lion Cut as a Variation of the Comb Cut

A lion cut is a shorter variation of the comb cut. Comb cuts can vary in length from ½ to 1 inch or even longer. Cats with thicker, plush coats look better with comb cuts, while cats with silky coats can look choppy. 

A comb cut is perfect for cats that require a full groom and clip but don’t require matts to be removed. It has the benefits of a lion cut and mitigates some of the disadvantages. Speak to your groomer about what would be the best option for your cat.

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