ASK DR. CHIP - JULY EDITION

Want to be featured in next month’s newsletter? Email our very own Dr. Chip at info@petsplusus.com and make sure you reference ‘Ask Dr. Chip’ in the subject line.

About Dr. Chip

Dr. Chip Coombs is Pets Plus Us’ Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), and has practiced veterinary medicine since 1976, initially in the United Kingdom, then in Western Canada and, finally, in Toronto, where he owned a multi-veterinarian practice for 33 years.


Question:

Hi Dr. Chip! 

My 3-year-old cat, Zazu is a Norwegian Forest Cat. I brush him every second day, as he doesn’t seem to enjoy being brushed too often. The only place he seems to get small mats is on his haunches; at the bottom of his back and beginning of his tail. He also has dandruff in that spot alone as well, he has a thick black line along his back from the crease of his neck to the beginning of his tail, I’m not sure if it affects any of those factors in anyway so I thought I would add that in.  A few fellow feline owners have recommended getting him a lion cut but from what I’ve read about Norwegian forest cats specifically it may not be the best choice. Unlike most felines, they have 3 coats of fur instead of 2, so from what I’ve learned from research, if I get Zazu shaved his hair may not grow back the same. I’ve also read that his fur actually protects him from the heat along with the cold, regardless of the 3 layers. My main reason for wanting to get him shaved is because he has had a couple incidents where his poop has gotten stuck to the hair around his butt and both times he seemed very uncomfortable and it was quite hard for me to help him without extremely upsetting him. I would like to avoid any subsequent incidents such as this so please, if you could, give me advice on what I should do to help my cat live comfortably but safe as well.

 I am very eager to hear back from you and I appreciate your time and patience for reading this.

Thank you kindly,

 Taylore

Answer:

Dear Taylore,

To shave or not to shave, whether it be a cat or dog, is an ongoing debate with no hard core true in every situation answer. My suggestion would be to not shave him, as there is the risk that the coat will not return exactly the same way. If I have interpreted your reasoning for contemplating it correctly, the main concern is to avoid poop from getting stuck to his long hair at the back end. For this the simplest solution would be to have the back end shaved back, but not as a close cut, just short enough to allow "clear passage".

As for the periodic matts elsewhere that are developing, you may want to take him to a professional groomer to remove them and the worst of the undercoat to allow you to start wit a clean slate. Going forward I would encourage you to brush him daily in the worst matting areas and to use a different brush than at present. If you are brushing him every other day and he is still matting, I would wonder about the efficacy of the brush you are using. When you take him in for the grooming ask the groomer to show you how to best brush him and with what type of brush.

Matts are the main reason for lion cuts/ shaving with cats, and with long coated ( double layered ) dogs, it is matt control and supposed better temperature regulation in the summer months. It is hard to argue with the former reasoning, although the coat may not return to its former self. However, with temperature regulation, thermal imaging studies have shown that the shaving has the exact opposite effect of what was intended with the lion cut. The shaved areas are far hotter than the full length coat. Certainly it is easier for an owner in terms of maintenance, but in reality the coat evolved for thermal regulation and removing it will expose the pet to higher surface body temperatures - as well as the risk of potentially messing up the coat regrowth and sunburn.

Cheers,

Dr. Chip