Guide: What clippers are best for cats?
Shaving a cat with clippers is not often a first choice, but for their health and well-being sometimes it becomes the only option. Whether it's because you need to get rid of matted knots that cannot be brushed or combed out, because a cat has become too unwell or overweight to groom themselves properly, for severe hairballs, to clear fur around the nipples for an upcoming litter to feed more easily, or shaving prior to surgery… whatever the reason you need to clip a cat, this guide will help you select the right tools for the job.
Covered in this guide: Help choosing between clippers and trimmers, best selling models rated for clipping and trimming cats, help with which blade to use, as well as the important precautions to take before and when clipping cats, and a video showing handling safety and technique.
Please do read this guide in full for both yours, and the cat's safety.
How to choose the right clipper or trimmer for a cat
Please note all info in this guide applies in general to clippers, trimmers and blades. Individual brands and models may vary in best use. Use this information as a starter guide, however always refer to the information about the exact product you are buying on the product page, before you decide.
Step 1: Do you need clippers or trimmers?
A full size clipper is the choice groomers usually go for, for badly knotted or matted coats, for general all-over use including the body and stomach, for all breeds and all coat types - especially for dense, double or more difficult coats like the Persian or Ragdoll. Full sized Clippers can be used for dogs and cats (and many are rated for horses also).
Clippers are more powerful than trimmers. If you search ‘how to clip a cat’ on YouTube, you’ll typically see groomers using clippers with standard blades for cats of all breeds and for all type of clips, including the popular ‘lion cut’.
Clippers can be corded or cordless. Trimmers are cordless. Clippers come in single speed, 2 speed and 5 speed options. Trimmers come in single speed.
Clippers normally come with a standard A5 #10 blade included free. A #10 blade leaves the coat around 1.5-1.8mm (depending on the brand). For badly matted cats, you may want a size #30 blade (more about blades coming up).
If the clipper is an A5 model, that means it fits all brands of standard blades, in all lengths, from size 50 (under 1mm) up to size 3 (over 1cm), and all universal comb attachments (3mm to 3cm) - so look for an A5 model clipper if you want to keep all options open for grooming at different lengths, and grooming both dogs and cats.
Trimmers are always cordless, and are smaller, lighter and quieter than most full-size clippers. Trimmers are used for delicate, smaller or sensitive areas like paws, feet and faces, and for targeted knot removal rather than full body clips.
Trimmers come in 2 sizes, mini or midi. You wouldn't use a mini trimmer to shave the entire body for a cat. However there is a type of midi trimmer - called a '5 in 1' - which is half-way between a clipper and trimmer. Midi-size 5 in 1 trimmers are popular for shaving cats and come in a few models, included below.
Step 2: The best clipper & trimmer models for cats
There are a few models mentioned below for clippers, midi and mini trimmers. This is not a complete list, so don't rule out other clippers and trimmers just because they're not listed below.
Corded clippers for cats
The Andis AGC Super 2 Speed Brushless Clipper is a full-size, full-power, 2 speed, corded clipper. It's much lighter and quieter than a traditional clipper due to the brushless motor but has the extra torque needed for difficult or matted coats. It's an A5 model, so is recommended if you want the most features, and options for blades and accessories. The AGC Super 2 Speed is rated for cats, dogs and horses, handles matted cat fur with ease, fits all standard blades by all brands in all lengths, fits universal comb attachments by all brands in all lengths, and fits specialist A5 cat blades.
If your cat is anxious or sensitive to noise and vibration, the Andis Excel 5 Speed Clipper would be a great choice. This is another full-size, full-power, corded clipper, however has 5 speed settings rather than 2. This clipper has the same top 2 speeds as the Andis AGC Super 2, however also has 3 lower speed settings that reduce the noise and vibration. This can be very beneficial when working with anxious or sensitive cats, as well kittens and seniors.
Cordless clippers for cats
If you are wanting a powerful cordless clipper, the Andis Pulse ZR II, Wahl KM Cordless, Heiniger Saphir and Heiniger Opal are our top recommendations. These all full-size, full-power, cordless clippers suitable for all coat types and conditions. All of these clippers are A5 models, giving you the widest range of blades and accessories (the two corded models above are also A5).
For help comparing between models, check out the cordless clipper and trimmers comparison guide here.
MIDI trimmers for cats
If you want something smaller, lighter and cordless that costs less than most full size clippers, consider an adjustable blade midi trimmer instead. They are a type of midi trimmer (midi meaning medium, versus mini trimmers which are a lot smaller). A midi trimmer is roughly half-way between a clipper and a mini trimmer in size and power.
There are three popular midi trimmer models for cats > the Andis Vida in green or raspberry, Wahl Harmony and Wahl Bravura. All 4 of these trimmers come with an adjustable 5 in 1 blade, meaning 1 blade with 5 adjustable length options.
5 in 1 clippers have their own unique blade (they don't fit standard blades, cat blades, or universal accessories). They can be used for full body clipping for cats with some considerations. They can also be used to trim dogs, but aren't rated for full body clipping for all dog coat types.
If you want an even cheaper, cordless option, you can try the Codos CP-9200 Trimmer, or the Shernbao Smart Midi Trimmer. Although these are not officially rated for full body clipping for cats, they are frequently bought for that purpose anyway (probably because the price is so low compared to the models above).
It's important to note we can't claim or guarantee the Codos or Shernbao trimmers will definitely do the job, so if you want to be sure what you buy is rated for full body clipping for cats, it's best to get a 5 in 1, or a full size clipper.
New Zealand Maine Coon breeder Zena Pigden uses the Codos for her cats. She's got the older Codos model (CP-6800), but the newer model we sell (the CP-9200) has a better motor and battery life. You can read Zena's Codos review here >
The Codos motor is not as powerful as the 5 in 1 clippers above. It has lithium-ion batteries like the Wahl Bravura and Wahl Harmony, but the battery quality and therefore battery lifetime is not as good as other higher-end brands. The replacement Codos blades are a great price also, as is the clipper itself. The Codos has a unique 4 in 1 adjustable blade.
MINI trimmers for cats
Last are mini trimmers. These are the smallest, quietest, cordless trimmers available. With a 3cm blade width, they're much smaller than all the models above (a full size clipper has a 5cm blade width). Mini trimmers are popular for trimming around delicate, touch-sensitive, smaller or injury-prone areas, such as the sanitary areas (bottom and genitals), face, ears, neck and paws, and for targeted removal of individual body knots and mats. However they are not rated for full body clipping for cats.
Jacque from Pet Agree (a professional cat groomer who also teaches other groomers how to groom cats), uses the Wahl BravMini. Another mini trimmer model for cats are the Heiniger Mini. We also have a budget friendly option available - the Shernbao Mini. Although the price is superb, the battery quality and therefore battery lifetime is not as good as the others.
You'll find these 3 mini trimmers, as well as the other Midi trimmers mentioned above, under Cordless Trimmers.
Blades for shaving and clipping cats
Before you decide on your clippers or trimmers, check the prices for replacement blades as well. A sharp blade is needed for easy, smooth clipping for cats due to their finer denser coats than dogs have, and because you rarely wash a cat before clipping like you would with a dog. So using a sharp blade is more important for clipping cats. A dull blade will grab or chew a cat's finer coat. If you use your clippers for both dogs and cats, save at least one blade to put aside for your cat clients. A dog's coat will tend to blunt a blade faster than a cat's coat will.
If you opt for an A5 model clipper, the size 10, size 15 and size 30 are popular (30 is better for matted coats). You'll find them under Blades > Cat Blades.
Standard steel blades (that fit A5 model clippers) and cat blades, can be sharpened over and over, saving you buying a new blade each time it goes dull. Trimmer blades are not usually sharpened, so consider the cost of replacement blades if you opt for a 5 in 1 or other type of trimmer. Cat fur tends not to dull blades as fast as most dog coat types, so both clipper and trimmer blades tend to stay sharper for longer.
Here's are a couple of reviews from customers who use the size 30 cat blade made by Andis > "I have an older long haired cat who won't let me brush her and gets dense mats on her back and around her tail and backside. This blade was great for getting rid of the mats. Prefer this to the number 10 blade, got underneath the mats much more easily. Do get a cooling spray and go slow." and another said: "worked great...shaved without nicking the cat...so he's happy too!"
IMPORTANT: Precautions before clipping a cat
A cat’s skin is far thinner and looser than a dogs. That makes cats more prone to being nicked by a blade, especially if the coat is matted, so it’s important to take extra care. Stretch legs to avoid nicking loose skin, such as around the armpits, and keep the coat taught while clipping to avoid bumping over folds or rolls of skin.
Watching YouTube videos for ‘how to clip a cat’ is recommended if you don’t have an experienced professional to teach you. Always clip the cat’s claws first to reduce being scratched. If you’re not confident using a nail clipper, you can use a nail grinder instead (you'll find both options under Health > Nail Care).
Knots that have turned into felted mats may have to be removed by shaving (rather than brushing), where you use a short blade on your clipper (like a 10 or 30 blade), to go underneath the knot right up against the skin to carefully remove it. More about blades coming up. You can also carefully use scissors for targeted knot removal, in which case a short, blunt-end, safety tip scissor is recommended to reduce the risk of injury.
Remove all tangles and knots that you can before you clip, unless you plan to shave the coat short by going under the knots, as knots will be removed by the clipper instead. A line brushing technique is recommended for brushing longer coated cats. Start with a pin brush first, not a bristle brush, then when you find a knot, use the appropriate tool depending on how bad it is (such as a slicker brush or detangler comb). A slicker is popular to 'pat' out a knot from the end to the root, a little at a time.
Knowing how to handle a cat during grooming will help avoid stress and injury also (for you and them). Search YouTube for videos of groomers handling cats. There are a few different methods covered in the video below from Pet Prepper also:
TIP when using combs for removing knots: Start with a wider tooth comb first, working down to combs with a finer teeth spacing. This speeds up knot removal and is less stressful for the cat as it won’t pull on skin as much. Save finer teeth tools, like a detangler comb or flea comb, for tangles that pin brushes and wider tooth combs miss.