Additional: how to visualize the Jacobi equation.The behavior of geodesics is described by the Jacobi equation, which says that the second derivative of signed distance from a geodesic to infinitesimally nearby geodesics equals-(Gaussian curvature) times distance. Integrating this equation amounts to taking the limit of composition of sequence of elements of $SL(2,\mathbb R)$, acting on (distance, derivative of distance).
This can be visualized by looking at the action of $SL(2,\mathbb R)$ on the hyperbolic plane, which we can coordinatize as the upper half plane $im(z) > 0$. The boundary of the upper half-plane corresponds to the set of slopes of lines in the plane, with 0 corresponding to parallel variations of a geodesic and infinity corresponding to variations of a geodesic that keep distance 0 and turn at an angle. In general, each points on the circle at infinity tell us the curvature of an advancing wave-front. If the point is on the right, the wave front is convex; on the left, concave.
If curvature is 0, the point at infinity is fixed, and the action is a unit speed translation to the right in Euclidean terms, a parabolic transformation in hypebolic terms. Curvature creates an additional effect that moves the point at infinity: positive curvature moves it counterclockwise by adding a parabolic vector field fixing 0, and negative curvature moves it clockwise.
The instantaneous sum of these two motions is rotation around a point in the positive curvature case, and translation along a geodesic in the negative curvature case. Thus for positive curvature, the wave front shapes make complete circuits around the circle at infinity, alternating between local convexity and local concavity. In the negative curvature case, once convex they always remain convex.
I don't want to make this answer even overlier long, but it should be clear from this concrete picture of the Jacobi equation that we can put in smooth little blips of negative curvature without changing the qualitative nature of the wave fronts at the time of the collision that forms the cut locus, and thus not destroying convexity of the precut locus.