Cheeks & Chin: Sculpting To Look Their Best
BY PATSY BOWMAN, Patlen Persians

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Photo by L. Johnson

Sculpting a Persian cat is a bit of an art, but it is something anyone can learn to do . . . and can learn to do it well.

It just takes a bit of practice and some time developing an eye for what you want to accomplish.

Perhaps the most challenging area of sculpting a Persian is creating the perfect cheek and chin on the kitty so that it looks nicely round and perfectly natural.

When To Start

Start sculpting the face of your show kitten at three or four or months of age and continue plucking the face throughout its show career.

After the first initial sculpting all you`ll need to do is maintenance plucking — every one or two weeks should keep your cat in great show shape.

If this is your first attempt at sculpting, you may feel safer if you practice on a cat you're not showing — perhaps a retiree or a pet :-).

Let's Begin On The Cheeks

I have found that the best way to see which hairs need to come off is by studying a picture of the cat. Take pictures of the cat's head and then you can see where and how much more hair you need to take off.

My "Model" for this demonstration is CH Patlen's N Cahoots, a blue and white van male Persian.

Always begin with your cat freshly bathed. Clean hair is easier to sculpt.

Using a face comb, comb the cheek hair so you can see what your working with. Keep in mind the rounded shape you are going for while you sculpt. The idea is to make the face and head look round, round, round.

The picture of Cahoots shows the shape your wanting to achieve.

Using the outside corner of the cat's eye, draw an imaginary line down to the outside edge of the cheek (dotted line).

Next draw the kitty's "smile" line following the natural curve of the cat's top lip out to his cheek (solid line).

Any face hair that falls below the solid green line is hair you want to remove with the sculpting knife. Then use your fingers to pluck and sculpt above that line for a naturally feathered look.

The dotted line shows where you should stop plucking. Don't sculpt any hair beyond the dotted line or you risk having the head look like it has been pasted onto the neck. It creates an artificial look.

Some cats have a lot of hair hanging off their cheeks, that`s where the sculpting knife comes in handy.

The sculpting knife is used to remove the excess hair on the cheeks until you get the lovely rounded shape that you are trying to achieve.

A typical stripping knife

Stripping knives come in different styles. Choose a fine toothed knife in a style that fits well in your hand. Stripping knives are available at any company selling dog grooming products including Revival, Jeffers, Cherrybrook, etc.

To use a stripping knife, hold it firmly in your hand, with your thumb placed on the blade portion as shown in the photo on the right.

Place the stripping knife on the imaginary line you have drawn and hold the hair under your thumb. Pull sharply toward yourself, cutting the hair.

Using the stripping knife to remove hair

Working on a few hairs at a time, the knife can be used to pull hair out by the roots or to cut the hairs in a natural manner — it all depends on the angle at which the knife is held against the hairs.

Stop frequently. Step back and take a look at your cat's face to make sure you like your results. Look at your cat from all angles. Is there more hair that needs plucking?

Once you have used the stripping knife to shorten the long hairs on the cheeks it is now time to use your fingers. Pluck and shape the cheeks until they look feathered and natural. When plucking you should only take a few hairs at a time then check to see if more needs to be removed. Pluck too much and the cheeks will look too small or not rounded.

The Chin

The chin should blend smoothly into the cheeks, creating a continuous arc.

If the chin looks scruffy pluck out the longer hairs. You can also use blunt end scissors or thinning shears to trim up the chin hair if it looks too long. You want the chin to look smooth, round and strong.

When working on your cat's face try not to cut off the whiskers.

Final Words

Always keep looking at the over-all picture of your cat's face to make sure you like your results.

You don't want to take off too much hair at one time. It's better to start out slow and take as much hair as you feel comfortable with at first. You can always take off more later but you sure can't put it back once it's gone.

If you do take off too much hair, don't panic. The hair will always grow back. And we learn by our mistakes.

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