When I describe bathe a cat, I mean immerse gently with water, shampoo (with cat appropriate product, like Chubbs Bars) entire body thoroughly and rinse, at least TWICE.
Blow drying is an equally important component of a professional quality groom. If a cat is left to air dry naturally, or passively dry in a crate, any existing mats will shrink only tighter. A professional active drying system will remove loose hair, loosen tight mats, and fluff and straighten the coat creating a superior end result with less work to remove mats.
Some cats are good at self-maintenance but still benefit from a seasonal bath just from a hygienic roommate point of view. Many cats need regular grooming help for a variety of reasons such as length and type of coat, weight, illness, and age.
Here are some of the reasons to consider bathing and blow-drying a cat:
1. Licking is not the same as washing with soap and water. If I spent a great deal of time licking myself, would you consider me to be clean?
Cats do not have soap dispensers within their saliva glands, plus they have a lot more hair per square inch. There is lots of bacteria in the saliva. I would be very offended to live with a roommate who did not bathe regularly. Why do cats get a free pass card, when dogs don’t? Surely spreading spit around (which is very allergenic) does not equate with bathing with soap and water. I wouldn't use wipes and consider myself clean.
2. You cat smells like a litter box. How clean is your litter box……., really?
Kennel standards require a minimum of twice a day scooping of litter boxes. Less than that and your cat may be inadvertently taking the litter box with him wherever he goes in your home. You know, your bed, your lap, the kitchen counter, and your couch. Cats start to smell like the litter box too, which makes for a very pungent cuddle companion. Especially with dried feces stuck to the bottom, or paws soaked in urine.
3. You are tired of hair on your clothes and hairball vomit on the floor.
Indoor cats shed year round. If you are stepping in hairball vomit, finding drifts of hair on your clothes, bed, and couch, or have been to the vet for hairball problems, your cat needs help in staying ahead in the shedding cycle.
4. You cat has problems with recurring mats that you keep chopping out. It looks like your cat fought, and lost, against a weed wacker. Worse, you leave the mats in that are now turning into mushrooms or balls.
Not all loose hair simply falls out. If the cat is dirty or has longer hair, the loose hair stays trapped in the coat. Add spit, and you've got the recipe for mats. Loose hair + dirt/grease + moisture = mats. Mats usually start where the cat is dirtier like the chest or bottom, or where they can’t reach well, or at friction points like armpits. Without immediate attention mats grow and can fuse into one blanket of mats called a pelt. This is painful and unhealthy for the cats, and in severe cases can cause death by causing an cat to become septic. It can hid sores, parasites, and bruising caused by the constant pulling and lack of air circulation.
5 Your cat looks and feels like it’s been dipped in hair pomade.
Cats are naturally greasy. Some, especially males, have overactive oil glands. This is like adding more hair pomade each day and never washing it off. Ewww. While the messy look might be fashionable for humans, we at least, wash it out with soap and water. A clean cat’s hair d-r-a-p-e-s, falls straight, and feels soft. It shouldn't stand upright, feel chunky, or separate into peaks.
6. Your cat leaves a trail of flaky dandruff?
Large yellowish flakes floating in the hair is dead dirty skin, NOT dry skin. Wipes and dry shampoos don’t work. Brushing or combing seems to make matters worse. There is only one true solution. Please see our blog on dandruff for more details.
I know that over 60% of cats are acquired free. Their maintenance costs are relatively low compared to dogs. Some never go outside. So why do I require proof of vaccines for every first time visitor to my grooming salon? It is for the protection and long-term health for every client who visits. Certainly when you travel abroad, you make sure all your vaccines are up-to-date and new potential threats (whether Immondium or Hep C) are taken care of. I want all clients to have peace of mind knowing that an effort has been made to reduce any possible risk of exposing their beloved pet to viruses and diseases during their visit to the groomer.
In Ontario, all cats and dogs are required to be vaccinated for rabies, even if your cat is an indoor cat. It IS the law and mandatory. Should your cat bite a house guest, or groomer, it must be reported to health officials. Without proof of rabies vaccinations, the cat will be placed in quarantine. This is an ugly situation easily avoided.
It may surprise you that cats have more contagious diseases than dogs and that they are easily spread and can be fatal. Cats are especially good at hiding illness. They are very susceptible to airborne respiratory viruses, diseases that are transmitted by cat bites and scratches, and other contagious viruses transmitted through body fluids. So unless you own one single cat its entire life, and it never leaves the house, nor do other cats come in, you are putting your cat at serious risk without vaccinations.
Having said that, I should point out that not every cat needs to be vaccinated for every disease. There are core vaccines, started during kitten-hood, and there are non-core vaccines that are critical in protecting your cat if it has an indoor/outdoor lifestyle.
The core vaccines are against Panleukopenia (feline distemper), Feline Calicivirus, and Feline Rhinotracheitis (Feline Herpes). In short form, this vaccine is called the FVRCP and it is administered every four weeks ideally starting at 7-9 weeks, then 12 weeks, and finally at 16 weeks along with the rabies vaccine. Each cat needs three rounds of the FVRCP to be fully protected.
If you have acquired a re-homed adult cat with no vaccination history, I strongly recommend following the same vaccine protocol no matter what its age and get tested for FeLV as well.
Non-core vaccines your cat may need if it has an indoor/outdoor lifestyle are: Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) , Chylamydophile felis, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). These are administered starting at 12 weeks and again at 16 weeks. These diseases are transmitted by bites, body fluids, and are highly contagious. They create chronic immune compromised diseases and infections and it is a terrible, long, drawn out way to suffer. FeLV is the leading cause of illness and death in cats and part of the reason outdoor cats typically have less than half the lifespan of their indoor peers, aside from being killed by cars or poisoning.
Once your cat is fully vaccinated, it is up to you and your vet to determine the lifelong vaccination schedule. Some recommend annually, others do not. My only requirement is that vaccinations have occurred. I do not think any client would be thrilled in knowing there were unvaccinated cats in the same room as their own vaccinated pet, even though surfaces, tools and hands are disinfected between clients.
I believe in maintaining high standards of care for the long-term well-being of every animal and owner who visit my salon. If you object to spending money to protect the health of your cat and others by not vaccinating, than I am not the feline grooming salon for you.
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Janet Wormitt, CFMG CFCG
Cat-a-lyst and Ad-vo-CATe