The lion cut for cats

The lion cut for cats, a grooming style that makes a cat look like a lion with shaved body fur and full head and tail fur, is great for warm weather.
By David Dickson

When many cats look into a mirror, a full-grown lion or lioness looks back. Well, now, the rest of us can see them the way they’ve always seen themselves. Each year as the weather warms up at the Sanctuary, little prides of miniature lions can be found strutting their stuff around Cat World.

A mane that pulls double duty: The lion cut

Sometimes when visitors meet cats with the lion cut — so named because of the cats’ appearance after a close shave — they assume the cats are shaved that way simply because it’s cute.

Cat getting the lion cut at the groomer
Please take a little off the top.

Well, nobody is going to argue that the cats don’t end up dashingly handsome at the end of their shave. Yet there’s much more going on than appearance. "It really is functional as far as them being more comfortable, cooler and cleaner," says cat caregiver and groomer Denise Barbarich.

Long-haired cats can be especially good candidates for this close shave technique, especially if their fur is matted or shed hair is trapped in their undercoat. Quite often, the cats really do need a helping hand from the groomer.

With such cats, a summer shave often results in one extremely happy customer. "They act like a kitten again," Denise says. "They just feel better. You can tell."

A cat doesn’t need to have long hair to benefit from a trip to the groomer, mind you. "That’s a big misconception that short-coat cats don’t need to be groomed," Denise says. If a cat has a hard time grooming herself, for example, the fur can still become matted.

Smoky Jo is an overweight, short-haired cat who has trouble grooming herself completely. Even with caregivers brushing her fur over and over, she still needed extra help getting rid of the fur she was shedding continually. One trip to the groomer, though, and her problems were solved. "She’s a lot more comfortable," Denise says.

Spring and summer cat grooming

Black and white cat with a lion cut
Looking good!

The great spring shave-athon, as Denise calls it, typically lasts into the summer. One reason for the long time frame is that some of the cats won’t tolerate grooming while awake. As such, they need to be sedated. This incidentally gives the medical team an opportunity to perform medical exams at the same time.

The cats who need sedation take longer to schedule, however, which means that the lion cuts start cropping up in early spring and continue to roll out into early summer. Afterward, the felines still have plenty of time to grow out their hair before weather turns cold again.

Medical benefits aside, when it comes to summer fashion you can forget about colorful swimsuits and stylish sunglasses. In the end, you simply can’t beat a collection of pint-sized lions on the prowl.

Feline grooming benefits

Regular grooming not only helps to maintain your pet’s health, it can also become a bonding experience for the two of you.

Read about additional pet grooming tips.

Photos by Molly Wald

Caring for Pets