Given that Jake appears to be an expert over there, what advice can you give about cat grooming? I have a long-haired tabby who's suffering in the heat - can I give him a lion cut just to make him cooler, or will it traumatize more than relieve him? Is it expensive? Can any pet groomer do it, or are there cat specialists? Are there other styles? Does this officially make me a freak pet owner?

2004_5_lioncut3.jpgWell, the good news is, you're not a freak. More cat owners than you'd think shave their cats in the summer time to keep them from suffering too much in the heat (and to try to minimize how much cat hair winds up all over the apartment).

There is a little bit of debate about whether shaving a cat is really helpful or if it will just make the cat unnecessarily uncomfortable. Ask your vet's opinion first. Lion cuts are pretty standard for Persian cats, like Jake's cat Thompson. Most groomers won't shave the cat entirely: the fur on the cat's feet, head, and tail all serve specific purposes.

If you decide to shave the cat, we recommend going to a professional groomer and not trying to do it yourself (anyone who has ever tried to give a cat a bath can guess why). There are cat specialists in New York, although most dog groomers also groom cats. Call around and ask. Paws in Chelsea was highly recommended to us. You can also check out Citysearch's list of groomers and this directory of groomers. Grooming the cat will likely cost between $50 and $80, depending where you go.

And Jake says:

You should expect the cat to be a little depressed afterwards! Thompson wouldn't touch his duck and green peas for like two days- he just moped around the house. But he seems much happier now that it's hot!

Snopes has an amusing article about lion cuts.

The ASPCA has some good tips for taking care of your pet (dogs in particular, but cats, too) in the hot weather.