What is trust?
For the purpose of of building and maintaining trust in the grooming profession, trust can be defined as choosing to risk making your pet vulnerable to another person's actions. You choose your groomer because you believe their actions will support your wishes in the care and welfare of your beloved pet, and at the very least, not harm it in any way. Some owners extend trust easily and only withdraw if there is evidence of betrayal of that trust. Others believe that trust is to be earned by demonstrating trustworthiness and professionalism.
In pet grooming, trust is a more complicated relationship than most services. It's not just about the mutual relationship between client and service provider. It is a triangle of trust between client, pet, and grooming professional.
With trust flowing freely in all directions there a feeling of collaboration, care, and receptiveness to new ideas. Without trust there is only fear, anger, resistance, and blame. It is important to be very clear about expectations to foster a trusting relationship
The Pet's Expectations:
The Client's Expectations:
The Groomer's Expectations:
Most of the pet owners reading this probably don't realize that the exchange between pet and groomer concerning feeling safe and being able to handle whatever comes is a two way street. The groomer has a right to feel safe too and to work well within their own experience and comfort level. It is as important for the groomer to communicate this to the owner as it is for the owner to fully disclose all behavioural quirks that are known. It is lying by omission or just plain negligence to hand over a pet with known aggression problems and hope the animal behaves itself.
No matter how diligent, accidents do happen. Pets can do unpredictable things, groomers can make mistakes, and clients can lose track of time. Honesty is always the best policy. Once a breach in trust occurs it is very difficult to get it back. A clear acknowledgement and apology without excuses or justification can make the difference between a broken relationship, and one that gets stronger.
I would love to hear your comments and suggestions for expectations I may have overlooked.
This may come as a shock. As a Certified Feline Master Groomer, the labs in the allergy laboratories in the U.S. will pay me $140 CAD for each pound of dirty cat hair. Amazing. Why? Because cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. Cat hair is a reliable source because it is dirty and full of allergens.
An estimated 10 percent of people are allergic to household pets and among children, one in seven are allergic to Tiger, not Rover. Yet cats are the most popular house-pet in Canada.
Popular belief is that it is the fur causing the watery, itchy eyes.
Most people are reacting to proteins found on the cat's skin and fur. The There are actually five cat allergens described in medical literature, but the primary culprits are Fel d 1, and Fel d 4. Laboratory gold. Both allergens are produced largely by cat saliva and the sebaceous glands. Fel d 1 is also produced by cat skin itself. So it's not about the dander the cat sheds, it's about the size and shape of the protein molecules.
Cat protein molecules are tiny, about one-tenth the size of a dust allergen. From the cat's hair and skin it enters the air and can stay airborne for hours. It's sticky too. It readily sticks to human skin and clothes and stays there, making it ever-present in the environment. It's been found in environments where there are no cats - classrooms, medical offices, even the Arctic.
All cats produce the proteins. While there are no true hypoallergenic breeds, there are some cats that produce more protein than others, especially unneutered male cats.
Here are some recommended steps offered by the professional allergist community that you can take to reduce cat allergy suffering: removal of soft surfaces in the home (carpet, furniture), frequent washings of bed linens, HEPA filters and washing cats has been proven to reduce the amounts of Fel d 1 present in the home. That's right, w-a-s-h-i-n-g, with soap. Not combing, not shaving, not wipes, not "waterless" bath sprays. An actual regular bath.
Allergy shots are another option. Small injections on a weekly basis for six months, followed by three to five years of monthly injections. A less troublesome option may be on the horizon as clinical trials are beginning for a cat allergy vaccine that has shown promise for suffers.
In the meantime, simply washing the cat regularly will dramatically help reducing the allergens in your home, making it much more comfortable for everyone, with a glorious, fresh, silky soft puss as a plus. Love your cat, and bathe it regularly.
I admit it.
I regularly "shop" other pet grooming establishments to see;
Unfortunately, I am regularly appalled at the general level of service our pet grooming industry provides for cats.
Although cats are the most popular pets in Canada (36% of the pet households vs. 33% dogs) they are still treated as second-class pet citizens and expectations are very, very low when it comes professional cat grooming. What people don't realize is that professional grooming is a training process that acclimatizes a pet to being handled, cleaned and groomed.
Dogs need to be moulded into willing groomees, and so do cats. In my experience, dogs and cats are the same in their learning curve to the grooming process. It takes the same amount of time to teach the grooming process with intuitive understanding, patience, and good intentions. They differ only in the nature of how you overcome their potential fears, earn their trust to smoothen out the hurdles as they may arise, and make the whole process enjoyable or at least tolerable.
So what is "grooming" supposed to be? Dictionary definition defines "grooming" as:
Notice the word "clean". There's a big discrepancy in what pet groomers think a clean cat is. So let's define"clean":
So when a pet groomer shaves off the gnarly spots on a cat and drags a comb over it, would you consider it clean and groomed? If the pet groomer tried bathing and gave up trying to dry the cat to completion and returns it half wet and frazzled, would you consider it "groomed"? If you got your cat back with bald patches or uneven trimming, would you be happy with how cute your pet looks?
You wouldn't for a moment as a dog owner. You'd demand a refund or go elsewhere.
If you took your dog to the grooming salon you would expect:
For most cat owners it seems the best professional service that they can hope for is an incomplete effort with minimal incident. For shame.
Education is the key.
If your cat smells, has dandruff floating on the surface of the hair, throws up hairballs, has mats or tangles, looks like its been dipped in hair wax or feels greasy, has "stuff" stuck to it, your cat is not clean. Why cat saliva is considered a cleaning agent is beyond sound reasoning. A person or dog wouldn't be considered clean if it was dipped in its own spit.
It is time for cat owners to unite and demand more for their beloved felines. Better education and quality service to keep their cats truly clean, healthy, and a joy to cuddle and live with.
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Janet Wormitt, CFMG CFCG
Cat-a-lyst and Ad-vo-CATe