The Mane Thing

Question #5

Lion clips – blend the mane into the neck but leave the ruff kinda natural or scissor it all?


The neckline on a standard lion cut should fall right at the natural collar line on a cat. Using a #10 blade, in reverse, shave up toward the collar line. When going over the shoulder blade area, pull gently back on the cat’s skin, toward the tail, so that the skin remains taut. This is important for achieving a smooth, flawless finish and for protecting the cat’s skin from clipper nicks.

Proper clipper blade position when shaving a cat.

Continue to pull back on the skin at the cat’s shoulder while moving the clippers forward toward the neckline. The clipper blade should always remain flat to the contour of the cat’s body. When the clipper blade bumps up against the base of the cat’s skull, stop and pull back, creating a crisp line.

Work in this manner at the back of the cat’s neck, from ear to ear. Then move to the front of the cat’s neck to lift the ruff and create a neat, even line at the collar line under the chin.

Saving the sides for last, pull back gently on the cat’s skin at each side along the neckline. Keeping the clipper blades even and flat to the skin, shave forward to connect the top line and bottom line that have already been created.

When shaving around a cat’s neckline, think “back, front, sides.” Working in this manner will make the job of getting a good line at the neck a quick and simple process.

One example of a natural ruff on a standard lion cut. This cat is a Domestic Long Hair with a medium length ruff.

Do not start at one point on the neckline and work around the cat’s head in a continuous line. This is much like trying to draw a line with a pen around the core of a paper towel roll. No matter what, the line ends up in a slightly different place than it began. Instead, work back, front, sides.

On a traditional lion cut, the ruff would remain natural. A smooth, velvety, shaved finish meets up to a full, natural ruff. However, sometimes a client may want the ruff trimmed at the back of the head, the front, or all the way around. If trimming only the front of the ruff, a skim technique works very well. I prefer using a Wahl Bravura – it creates a very natural looking skimmed-off ruff that can be taken as short as needed.

Another example of a standard lion cut with a natural ruff, this time on a Domestic Short Hair.

For trimming up the ruff behind the head, a skim off with the Bravuras works well for taking off just a little. When needing to remove more hair, put a stainless steal snap-on (there are new ones designed for the Bravura) on the clipper and skim upward to take the ruff shorter without making it look cut.

The standard lion cut on this Persian was achieved using the method described here in this post. The natural length of the ruff makes it appear as though the line is set back further, however, it is set at the natural collar line, the same as it is on the cats shown above.

Scissors and cats do not mix. The exception to this is using 4” blunt-tipped scissors for the face trim on certain breeds. Everything else can and should be done with clippers. I’ve seen too many scissor fiascos over the years to know that scissor usage on a cat is simply not worth the risk. In addition, using scissors on cat hair becomes a challenge in attempting to make the look natural and not choppy. It can be done, but not without more time and effort. Using clippers makes the job quick and easy. And a whole lot safer.

A lion cut variation is always an option, too. Setting the neck line back or shaping it into a 'v' are just some of the options.

3 Responses

  1. cindy disiena says:

    loved the addvice on the lion cut.I have seen so many hack jobs its good to know where the true line is.

  2. Hello
    we are always looking for good cat grooming advices for our cat grooming section in Toilettage Magazine. So do not hesitate to send us your articles, tips and pics at if you wish to help us.
    Thanks in advance

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