A Guide to Cat Grooming in the Summer
As the weather starts to warm, you might be considering a trip to the groomer’s to help your cat shed their winter coat. While it’s easy for us to imagine that shaving our cat would offer instant relief from the summer sun, their fur coat serves a vital purpose year round. We’re sharing what you need to know about this furry situation and alternative ways to help your cat stay cool during the summer months.
Much like insulation in the walls of a home, a cat’s fur acts as a built-in temperature regulation system. Their fur coats help regulate both hot and cold temperatures, sealing in body heat during the winter months and allowing cool air to flow through like air conditioning in the summer. This layer of trapped air acts as a buffer against extreme environmental heat. If your cat is looking for extra relief, they will often migrate to a shady spot in the home to cool off away from the sun.
Say No to Shaving
While it’s easy to imagine a freshly shaved cat would be more comfortable in the warm and humid months, shaving off fur strips a cat of their natural defense to the summer sun. A cat’s fur protects all sorts of unpleasant things like insects, allergens and harmful sun rays from coming into contact with their skin. Too short of a haircut can also lead to skin problems like ingrown hairs and rashes while leaving them more vulnerable to bites.
Shaving a cat can lead to a high risk of sunburn and overheating from time spent sunning their bellies. Not only are sunburns painful to your cat’s skin, but they create a risk factor for certain types of cancers like squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Common in cats, SSC tends to affect thinly-haired parts of the body like the bridge of the nose, eyelids and tips of the ears.
While cats are natural grooming experts, you can still lend a hand to help shed their winter coats. Reduce hairballs and prevent excess fur from covering your furniture and clothing by brushing your cat regularly. Brushing will help loosen your cat’s fur and allow cool air to circulate through their coat better. For long haired cats, it’s important to brush out any mats or tangles that could be further limiting air circulation.
Create a relaxing environment by grabbing a brush and cuddling up on the couch together while you detangle your cat’s fur. Not only will brushing help remove shedding fur before it ends up scattered across your home, but the time spent grooming your cat is an excellent opportunity to bond with your furry companion.
Certain situations call for a deep clean. While the tub or sink is filling with just 2-3 inches of lukewarm water, set a mellow mood for your cat with a brief moment of play. Before taking a dip in the tub, brush out any tangles in your cat’s fur and make sure to add a bath mat to the bottom of the tub for your cat to grip. If your cat is reluctant to enter the water, opt for the pour-over method instead and use a handheld sprayer, pitcher or plastic cup to gently pour water over their body until they’re thoroughly wet.
Be sure to use a shampoo designed specifically for cats to avoid skin irritation or toxicity if your cat licks it. After applying the shampoo, massage it through the entire coat, starting at your cat’s neck and working towards the tail. Since cats are expert groomers themselves, make sure to rinse out all traces of product from their fur with clean, lukewarm water to avoid any being ingested by your cat the next time they bathe themselves. Remember to avoid soapy eyes, ears or face and have a warm spot and towel ready to dry off.
Just a Trim
While a summer shave is ill-advised, long-haired cats can benefit from a trim to assist in the natural shedding of their furry winter coats. When in doubt, leave it to the professionals and take your cat to your veterinarian or a professional groomer for just a trim. These professionals use grooming equipment that will prevent your cat from accidentally getting hurt, which unfortunately is a common type of injury veterinarians regularly see from owners attempting to give at-home haircuts.
Other Ways to Keep Your Cat Cool
Shady spots are key to cooling off, so ensure your cat has access to shaded areas around the house to lounge in while staying out of the sun. Also, make sure your cat has access to an ample amount of fresh water to keep hydrated.
When the first heatwave hits this summer, keep these tips in mind and remember shade over shaving for beating the heat in the months to come!