Dirty? Yes, contrary to what most people believe about the indoor lifestyle, in my professional cat groomer experience, the indoor cats are dirtier than the indoor/outdoor cats. Before you pou pou my statement in disbelief, read further.
All animals appreciate being clean. It's vital to their long term health. In a natural environment, on their own time, cats will seek out light rainy days, roll in snow, sit under downspouts, and are not adverse to the occasional swim. They do this to rinse away impurities and simply because it feels good. So the old myth about cats grooming themselves was largely helped by the fact that they seeked bathing themselves regularly, and didn't reply just on spit. Unless a indoor/outdoor cat has mishaps with unnatural products, like motor oil, or has extra long hair, they can stay in relatively decent condition during their prime years, needing a bath only occasionally.
An indoor cat does not get the opportunity to rinse away the layers of food, or litterbox debris. In fact the natural oils in the hair plus salvia can just keep building up until dirt and loose hair get stuck together creating mats. The indoor environment also means indoor lighting and thus, shedding year round. Your feline roommate is also slathering themselves daily with saliva which has five known allergens. Would you live with someone who never properly bathed? This is why so many cats are attracted to water dripping from sinks. They want to be clean. The trend to keep cats indoors puts the onus on us to regularly have them properly groomed and bathed so they can be as clean as they naturally like to be.
Keeping cats indoors is a prudent decision because the indoor/outdoor lifestyle is fraught with dangers like feline viruses, vehicles, predators, getting lost, and malicious humans. "Catios" are a great, safe alternative for the cats who love the outdoors. Indoor cats live an average of three times longer. As a responsible pet lover, I wouldn't let a dog roam free, and neither would I let a cat. My pets are bathed regularly because they share my living space, they stay clean and healthy, and I can enjoy cuddling them anytime!
During the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we often forget our cats need to receive guests too. We include our dogs in the festivities but not our cats. Why is that? While many cats prefer to hide during holiday home invasions of their territory, their presence is still felt and known by your guests.
With one quarter of your guests allergic to cats it makes sense to wash away the offending dander before they arrive. You want your guests to be comfortable, enjoy their stay, and not be in allergenic misery the whole visit. You just know that when the lights are out, to a-mews itself, your cat will visit the most allergic person while they are sleeping, or curl up in their luggage. Washing also gets rid of any tiny particles of litter box debris they spread anywhere they stroll...like the kitchen counters or tables.
Your guests may not be aware of the favorite cat chair until they are covered with the hair left behind, or your guests may unwittingly collect swirls of cat hair on their telltale dark socks. A hairy Christmas just shouldn't be on the menu. A cleansing bath, de-shed treatment and professional blow dry can take care of that. You may even consider a hair trim for the holidays.
Holiday wear and decorations with it's sparkles and textures can be very enchanting for your cat's curiousity, but beware the damage that can be wrought with untrimmed nails. A nail trim or nail caps can take of that problem especially in festive holiday colours!
If your cat is a socialite and loves to join the party, a soft, clean and fluffy-fresh cat is a joy to behold. Your cat will not be well received if it is smelly, greasy, or decorated with dandruff, or offending mats of hair. A clean cat is also a happier, more social cat.
Use common sense and protect your cat concerning open doors, alluring tinsel, poisonous plants, electrical cords, and decadent food over the holidays. Wishing everyone a safe and festive holiday season!
Feline anal glands is a rather gross subject, but it is necessary to beware of the signs of a potential problem before it becomes a trip to the vet.
Anal gland problems are more often associated with dogs, but cats can have problems too. All predators have oil sacs located at 4 and 8 o'clock around the anus. Skunks use them in chemical warfare, while dogs and cats use them to identify one another. Each time a stool passes a small amount of the oil is deposited on the stool leaving an individual signature unique to that animal. This is why cats and dogs will smell each other's rear ends in greeting.
Sometimes these glands get clogged up creating an impaction. This can happen because a lack sufficient fiber in the diet, dehydration, poor fitness, or genetic predisposition. The symptoms of a problem can be "scooting" which is rubbing the bottom along the ground to try and release the pressure. This is accompanied by a smear with a super smelly deposit on carpeting. Other symptoms include a pungent "fishy" smell, biting or licking at the anus, and frequent trips to the litterbox with no apparent relief.
If bacteria gets into the gland, the area can become swollen, red and sore. Cats will often start avoiding the litterbox because of the association of straining with the pain of the infection. Often cats that are suspected of having a urinary problem because of not using the litterbox, turn out to have an anal gland problem.
If the infection continues undiagnosed it can become a very painful abscess. At this point the gland has swollen to the maximum with pus and has bust through the posterior wall surrounding the anus. You can only imagine how unhappy any creature with an infection or abscess around the anus could be.
An accredited cat groomer will check the anal glands from the exterior during the bath to ensure everything is functioning as it should. Should there be signs of swelling or the glands do not drain easily, the cat will be referred to a veterinary for an interior expression of the glands. Excessive force by an amateur can damage or increase the potential for infection. Cats that are diagnosed with an infection or abscess will have their glands drained by a veterinary and then given a course of antibiotics. Cats with a chronic problem may have their glands removed through surgery.
Thanks for wadding through a pungent but important topic about your cat's health, and be thankful I didn't include pictures. :-)
Some cats seem to get shaven repetitively without ever having the opportunity to look and feel their finest. Here's how you can set a new precedent for your cat and improve the quality of life for both of you.
The first thing we have to realize is what exactly causes mats? It's a simple equation:
Moisture + Loose hair + Dirt/grease = Mats
Take one of those ingredients out of the equations, and you are less likely to have mats.
The other thing you must realize is that mats are very painful. Is causes bruising and sores, and every step becomes painful. It can turn a sweet cat into a miserable angry creature. And rightful so. Turning a blind eye to mats is completely inhumane.
Moisture is unavoidable with cats, because they lick spit all over themselves for about 50% of their active time. Not only does cat spit have five known allergens, it also dries leaving flakes floating along the surface of the hair. So what you may have assumed was dry skin, is actually dried salvia. Loose hair is particularly a problem for long-haired, overweight, elderly, or depressed/stressed cats. They just can't effectively address the removal of all the hair that sheds out. Oh, and the dead skin sheds too. That's the larger greeny yellow greasy flakes. Dirt/Grease build-up is a no-brainer. Would you want to live with a room-mate that didn't shower for months?
1. Become aware of the condition of your cat's fur. This means regularly caressing and checking for excessive dirt or grease, dandruff, shedding, and the first tell-tale thick spots that are just about to fuse into mats.
2. Take ownership of your own actions and attitude. Not all cats are great self-groomers. Admit there is a problem and help is needed. Either get out the comb and step up your home grooming regularly, and if you can't, get professional help more often.
3. Purposely observe by looking for changes in behaviour and health. How often are they self-grooming? Has the condition of their skin and hair changed? Can they reach everywhere they need to? Has there been additional stress in their life?
4. Evaluate your present routine. Do you feed grocery or premium brands? When is the last time your cat had a check-up? Do you truly know whether your cat is healthy or do you just assume so? Cats are exceptional at hiding illness.
5. Seek professional help from a Certified Feline Master Groomer who can help you determine the best cycle of grooming care for your specific cat. Ask questions, and educate yourself on the needs of your cat. It will mean a better quality of life for both of you. With regular professional grooming, felines are happier, healthier, and look, smell, and feel gorgeous.
6. Be honest about your ability to take good care of your companion. You choose to include this cat in your life. It is your responsibility and duty to ensure all its needs are properly taken care of and that it should never have to suffer due to your neglect. With all this new found knowledge, if you are not willing to change the cycle of oscillating between shave downs, you have a problem, and the right thing to do is find a new home for your cat.
I don't know where this phrase was coined, so whoever you are, thank you!
I think all new groomers have a rite of passage when it comes to trying to please their clients and de-mat a pet that, in hindsight, should never been put through the ordeal. It's a steep learning curve. We want to make our clients happy, but we haven't learned to say NO in a manner that is tactful, educational, and fosters a long-term relationship. When I started out 15 years ago, I spent two days de-matting a very patient and tolerant Briard. Today my limit is 10 minutes.
Professional pet groomers don't become groomers because they like to torture pets by de-matting. On the other hand, we don't shave pets because we're lazy or out of spite. A shave down is not pretty, nor is it good for business (unless it is the client's preferred choice of hair trim) . No matter how careful you may try to be, with all the tools, products, and professional tricks at hand, de-matting is very uncomfortable and often painful. In my professional opinion, no pet should have to endure more than 10 minutes de-matting, as it only makes visiting the groomer an unpleasant experience. An animal cannot rationalize that it must tolerate de-matting in order to please some level of aesthetics, it only knows that it hurts. The customer and the groomer have to come to a middle ground of understanding by communicating the realities of the individual's maintenance. Every pet's needs are different, even within the same breed or litter-mates.
Some pets are just born with knarly, poor quality, greasy hair, or are natural slobs. Many pets just never see a brush or comb at home in between grooms. Other pets give their owners a hard time and the owner just gives up. Whatever the reason, a groomer cannot fairly undo months of indifference or neglect in a couple of hours. An experienced groomer will interview the client and their pet to find out what their grooming expectations are and based on the pet's health, hair quality, and lifestyle, will make suitable recommendations.
When a matted pet comes into my salon for the first time it is not uncommon for the owner to request, "Just shave out the mats." The shaving, rather than ripping it out with a comb, I am in complete agreement with. The leaving a mohawk strip of unmatted but greasy dandruffy hair down the back, I am not in agreement with. Nor a patchwork of hair vs. shaven spots. It looks ridiculous, like a epic battle with a lawnmover. It is best to shave the body down so the hair can regrow evenly and attractively. A regular bathing and combing scheduled is immediately suggested to avoid the necessity of shaving in the future.
All pet owners should learn this equation: loose hair + dirt/grease + moisture = mats.
Actively questioning the client's pet grooming expectations or assumptions will often bring to light gaps in Disney ideals vs. maintenance reality. Keeping to a regular schedule keeps every pet loveable (i.e. clean, attractive, reduced shedding, smelling good, and a pleasure to pet) and happy (i.e. feeling good, clean, and free from discomfort) which makes living with pets all the sweeter.
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.
Fur that feels greasy, waxy, with mats forming around the base of the tail and rear end is sometimes a symptom of a skin condition. If the skin seems darker or discoloured at the base of the tail your cat probably has stud tail.
Stud tail (also known as Tail Gland Hyperplasia or Supracaudal Gland Hyperplasia) is a feline version of acne, just like humans, but on the tail. It is hundreds of tiny blackheads caused by excessive oil production usually triggered by hormones. It can sometimes also be found on the chin too. It is usually associated with male cats, but females can also have this condition.
This first photo is of a female cat after a preliminary degreasing bath with some combing to break apart the matted hair on the tail so a closer inspection could take place. Notice the yellowing discolouration, greasy waxy appearance, black flakes, and darkened skin. It will often have a rancid smell. After evaluation, it was determined that the stud tail was extensive and that the tail would need to be shaven (as had the body of the cat already had been done) in order to improve the ability to treat and clean the skin condition.
With the tail shaven, in this second photo of the same female cat, you can clearly see the yellow waxy grease and the blackheads. This residue will rub off wherever the cat goes, plus it looks and smells bad. So it was back to the tub for a deep cleaning tail exfoliating scrub combined with a degreasing organic cat-safe shampoo. I use Chubbs Bars Sugar Scrub. It works fabulously.
To get stud tail to clear up, an owner has to begin a regular regime of washing the tail twice a day with a degreasing cat shampoo or vet prescribed antiseborrheic shampoo. It is faster and easier if the infected area is kept shaven so the twice daily washing regime can penetrate effectively. Treatment of stud tail is not that different than daily cleansing for human acne, but please don’t use human products.
Sometimes stud tail can cause secondary skin infections that look raw and oozy. This will require vet prescribed antibiotics to clear up the infection.
After the Chubbs Bar Sugar Scrub, the yellow wax and blackheads were mostly gone with renewed and deep-cleansed soft pink skin beneath. This was only the first step. It will take multiple regular cleansing to clear up the skin and regular bathing to prevent mats in the future.
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Janet Wormitt, CFMG CFCG
Cat-a-lyst and Ad-vo-CATe