Weird domestic cat haircuts and lion cuts are unethical

I have just written an article about catnip and whether it is ethical for cat guardians to give it to their cat and then laugh at them as they become high on it. It is a philosophical question. I believe that you can extend the same sort of philosophical points and discussion to giving cats lion cuts or other weird haircuts as shown on this page.

The only reason why people do this to their cats is to amuse themselves. It is self-indulgent. There is no medical or health benefit to the cat unless (and this would be highly unusual) a veterinarian prescribed it for some particular reason. If people do it they do it for themselves without the consent of their companion cat. They wouldn’t cut all the hair off their child’s head to make him look like Yul Brynner and then get some fun out of it.

So, once again, we are in the realms of how we relate to our companion animals. We are discussing whether we treat them as we treat family members or do we downgrade our ethics and our morals in our interactions with our animal companions? Because this is what it’s about. It is a downgrading of ethics. We are applying a lower standard of ethics in our relationship with our companion cats in this instance.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Many people would find this argument too serious because they see it as fun to give their cat a weird haircut. And why shouldn’t they have fun if their cat doesn’t mind. Well we don’t know whether cats mind or not. That’s the first point. Secondly these owners are depriving their cat of what nature gave them, which is a wonderful coat to keep them warm and which they naturally wish to groom. If you remove a cat’s coat from you’re likely to confuse her because she can no longer groom herself in the usual way. Further, she will feel the cold and we know that cats like to feel warm. You are also changing the way the cat feels generally.

When people do this they don’t know how it affects their cat psychologically. It might not be a problem to their cat but it might be and we should respect the cat and not do it for that reason alone.

P.S. You can only give cats these haircuts when sedated. Potentially this carries a health risk; another ethical issue.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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8 Responses

  1. Anne says:

    This is disrespecting the animal and should be banned. Some cats won’t groom themselves and won’t allow grooming. Sedating and shaving is necessary to remove mats. But styling and cutting for to make a fashion statement is wrong.

  2. Mary Dellenbusch says:

    It’s one thing if there is a mat to shave off or it is extremely hot and the baby is suffering. However, this is completely wrong!

  3. Albert Schepis says:

    It’s not entirely true that you can only shave them if they’re sedated. Once I personally had to shave one of my cats’ bellies (I forget why at the moment but it was necessary and couldn’t wait for the vet the next day) and he actually liked it. He was a Maine Coon and was always up for anything. He loved everyone and everything; even going to the vet to flirt with the techs. Buddy was really something…

  4. Albert Schepis says:

    I agree that altering your pet id a semi-permanent way like this to laugh at them is morally, repugnant. Ethically (for the professional) it’s shameful dollar-digging as well, and I wouldn’t do business with them. However there are temporary costume-like modifications like the lion mane head-dress that some cats seem to wear with pride, which I don’t have a problem with. It depends on the attitude you have and portray with your animal companion. We laugh at their antics which is along the same lines, and hopefully hug them right away to show it’s just in good fun. As I’ve said before, as long as they’re in on it and it’s not the reason we have them in the first place. Also, as I show with Allie’s photo, when she was my girlfriend’s cat she had her shaved in the summer to give relief from heat and tangles… not shaving the head, legs and tail was simply how it was done, not to make her look like a lion on purpose. My neighbor walked his cat with a harness that looked like a sweatshirt with a hood, that was amusing. The cat only felt loved and had no idea how she looked to us. How they look to each other is a question. It’s a fine line, how we treat our pets. If a person has to make them look funny in order to appreciate them… that’s a problem. I’d have to view the entire relationship to see what it’s about, and I don’t think one should do anything permanent like a weird cut or dye job to a pet… that’s a human personality problem that shouldn’t be visited on their companion, or their kids for that matter. I am just as revulsed to see a baby with a mohawk.

  5. Jane says:

    This is another example of humans commodifying other species, it is ethically repellant.

    Dogs, rabbits and of course horses are species that are also treated like topiaries. I hate it.

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