For the most part, cats don’t have very extensive grooming needs because they’re quite good at keeping themselves clean. However, there are some cases in which a cat needs some extra help with keeping their rear end clean. Cats with longer hair can get mats around this area, and some cats may end up getting feces stuck around their behind, especially if they have diarrhea.
While it’s always recommended to leave the shaving to vets and professional groomers, there may be some instances when you can do it at home. However, if you have no experience doing this, it is best to find a way to get your cat to the vet or groomer instead to avoid unnecessary injuries.
Before You Start
Shaving or trimming the hair around your cat’s bum is also referred to as a sanitary or hygiene cut. These types of cuts are purely functional and help prevent feces from getting stuck on cats’ hair or remove one already there. If this is a new problem or has become a consistent issue your cat’s facing, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the reasons behind it.
Fur matted with feces around your cat’s bottom is also referred to as pseudocoprostasis.1 It might be that your cat has diarrhea, is straining while passing feces, or might be suffering from arthritis, meaning squatting to poop is painful, and turning around to groom their back end is not something your cat can comfortably do.
Your vet can establish whether any of these are true for your cat, what treatment they might require and if performing hygiene cuts on your cat on your own is a viable and safe option. Sometimes, a change in diet can change the consistency of feces and prevent it from sticking to your cat’s behind. If you get clearance from your veterinarian to do at-home hygiene cuts, make sure to purchase a shaver that’s specifically made for grooming pets and familiarize yourself with safe ways of using it.
The 7 Steps to Shave a Cat’s Bum:
1. Wear Sanitary Gloves and Masks
Practice good hygiene by wearing a set of disposable gloves. It’ll also be helpful to lay newspapers or butcher paper on the surface that your cat will be standing on. Wearing gloves and masks is especially important when shaving a cat’s bum because cat feces can contain Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis.
While it’s rare for this parasite to transfer to humans in this scenario, it’s still possible, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Always wash your hands thoroughly if coming in contact with your cat’s bum or feces, even after wearing gloves.
2. Use Pet-Safe Bum Wipes
You can try using pet butt wipes before attempting to shave your cat’s bum, as sometimes they might do the trick without needing to use the shaver. Butt wipes can help break down any feces attached to your cat’s bum and wipe up any stains on their coat.
Gently lift your cat’s tail and start by very lightly rubbing one of the wipes on the soiled area. Don’t be shy about using up multiple wipes. It’s most likely going to take several wipes to clean your cat’s bum completely.
Be careful not to yank the feces from your cat’s coat, as this can be very painful and startle your cat. But keep in mind that if you still need to shave afterwards, wetting the hair with wipes might clog up your shaver and make it difficult to shave the fur off.
3. Trim the Hair
This is the most tricky part! If the job is too big for butt wipes or your cat has severe mats on their bum, you could try using a pair of grooming scissors to trim the hair. Using scissors can be less frightening for cats, and they may be more open to it than having to hear the sound of a razor buzzing. But be extremely careful, as you can very easily accidentally cut your cat’s skin. If you’re not sure how to do it correctly, it’s best not to try at all and get in touch with your vet or a groomer for some help.
However, if you have experience with trimming cat’s hair this way and feel you can do this safely, make sure you try to keep the scissors perpendicular to your cat’s behind as you slowly and gently snip to prevent breaking skin.
Again, make sure not to tug on your cat’s hair because this will be painful. You should also gently grasp the fur you want to cut off between your fingers, with your palm resting on the cat’s skin. This way, the scissors can cut the fur just above your actual fingers away from the cat’s body rather than all the way down to the skin, protecting the cat’s skin from accidental damage.
4. Find a Friend
If you must use a pet shaver, it’s best to enlist the help of a friend. Your friend can help keep your cat still and calm as you shave your cat’s bum. Your friend can also distract your cat with treats as you’re shaving. It’ll also be helpful to cover your cat with a blanket or towel if they tend to be squirmy or react with scratching.
If your cat is clearly getting stressed or just isn’t staying still, it’s best not to continue with attempting to shave them, as you may accidentally injure the cat, cause them a lot of unnecessary stress, and even risk getting scratched or bitten yourself.
5. Lift Your Cat’s Tail and Shave Around the Anus
This part is only for the experienced cat owners who are comfortable using the shaver around their cats, especially their bottoms. Many cats will seriously dislike the noise coming off the shaver and having their bum area shaved. It’s imperative you do this only if you can’t get your cat to the vet or groomer or if they are used to you regularly doing this and will tolerate it well.
Gently lift your cat’s tail and slightly pull the skin around their anus. This will help you shave without nicking your cat’s skin. When you start to shave, shave around the anus in a scooping motion. Always shave away from the anus to prevent the razor from coming anywhere close or touching your cat’s sensitive area. Just a touch on the anus will cause a painful sore that may bleed and will need veterinary attention. Using a number 10 blade clipper usually suffices and provides a close shave without cutting your cat.
Keep in mind, the shaver’s blade gets very hot after being used for even a few minutes. This can burn the skin and cause serious discomfort to your cat, so keep turning it off to cool down and check the blade’s temperature. If it’s too hot for you to touch, it’s too hot to be used on your cat’s skin.
6. Reward Your Cat
During shaving, offer treats to your cat and make regular breaks, to allow your cat to relax in between. Be gentle and use a calm voice to reassure them. Once you finish shaving around your cat’s bum, wash your hands immediately. Then, make sure to reward your cat with their favorite treats.
Consistently rewarding your cat throughout the experience and at the end of the experience can help them get more comfortable with shaving if you have to do it regularly.
7. Sanitize the Area
Sometimes, you might need to sanitize the area once you’ve finished, especially if it was stained with feces. Use a mild pet-specific skin disinfectant or diluted vet-approved antiseptic solution, wet wipes, or just cotton wool soaked in warm water to clean the area, and don’t forget to clean the razor blade as well.
Make sure you dry your cat’s bum area with a soft towel to make sure they don’t lick any of the product off. It’s best to wash your hands several times, even if you’ve been wearing gloves.
Cats are usually great at keeping themselves clean, and if your cat is suddenly having a mucky bottom or matted fur or isn’t grooming properly, it’s time to get them checked out by your vet. Sometimes still, it’s necessary to shave your cat’s bum if you can’t get into your veterinarian’s office or a nearby grooming salon, or if you have a long-haired cat that easily gets matted.
The process will usually require many treats and at least one other person to help distract your cat and keep them calm. Sometimes, you will need to clean up and sanitize the area after you shaved your cat’s bum, especially if the skin was soiled with feces.
Lastly, make sure to check your cat’s bum in between hygiene cuts regularly. This will help keep your cat clean and prevent mats from forming in the first place, or allow you to catch them early before they’re getting too big and painful for your cat.