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!
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.
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.
As a professional groomer, there are times when, for the sake of humanity and compassion, you have to groom a pet that does not tolerant handling for certain areas or even all aspects of grooming. Whether it is the natural disposition of the pet, or a fearful reaction, it is our responsibility to treat a pet in our care with sensitivity and empathy in the quickest time possible to prevent undue stress and fear. The introduction of the Air Muzzle(R) has been a wonderful option for grooming unpredictable pets.
The Air Muzzle(R) is a bit of a misnomer as is is not actually a muzzle that would fit over the snout of an aggressive or fearful animal. It is more like a Elizabethan collar or pseudo-space helmet . It fits around the neck like a space helmet and it prevents an animal's teeth from coming into contact with a pet professional. Sometimes we need to perform tasks that may create an aggressive reaction from the pet, yet is necessary to maintain the health and comfort of the pet. A good example would be nail trimming, a necessity for all indoor pets. No animal likes it, but the degree of tolerance varies a great deal. Avoiding nail clipping can cause painful splayed feet, arthritis, and ripped out, broken and ingrown nails. But this only one common example of when a pet professional may opt to use an Air Muzzle in order to keep the pet comfortable or clean.
The Air Muzzle(R) is designed with a deep trough for the throat to ensure no contact at all on the windpipe, yet it fits around the head and sits high on the neck behind the jaw bone. The animal can see clearly forwards and there is nothing on the muzzle or face whatsoever. This is why I prefer using the Air Muzzle(R) over a regular muzzle for both cats and small dogs if ever necessary. It is allows a pet to breath freely, no restriction to sight, or anything that could cause annoyance on their face. Pets adapt quickly when they figure out they can still see and breathe freely. They stay calmer and stress less when having to do some offensive grooming tasks.
Because the Air Muzzle(R) seems to be such a benign and safe tool for pets, I have learned to use it in other useful ways. Some pets, understandably, strongly object to water or blow-dryers anywhere near their faces, so the Air Muzzle is a great tool to prevent this from happening.
The Air Muzzle(R) is expensive, but an excellent investment ($90 USD or $115 CAD). Professionals will never know how they ever worked without it when comparing it to the other bite restraint options. A cat bite is far more infectious than a dog bite and every pet professional is entitled to work safely using the most humane tools available to prevent injuries.
You can order your own Air Muzzle(R) here
When I first started professional cat grooming in earnest, I admit, I was a bit dubious about nail caps. Why? Well, because my experience in putting them on and concern for the cat's reaction made me cautious. Having put on hundreds of sets, I can now assure you that the resounding reaction of the owners and their cats is very positive. So here are some reasons you may want to consider using nail caps, some reasons you shouldn't, and worst case, what can go wrong when applying nail caps.
First let me explain what a nail cap is.
A nail cap is a soft, pliable, silicon cap / hood in the basic shape of the nail that slips over the nail to cover the pointed end. Kind of like a sword within a scabbard. Ideally, the nail must be trimmed first, but not excessively short, in order for the nail cap to adhere to the nail with a pet friendly super glue. Nail caps last on average about 6-8 weeks, but varies by individual lifestyle of the cat.
Reasons to consider using nail caps:
1. Despite a solid available scratching post and numerous attempts at encouraging the use of said post, or trying posts of various materials (cardboard, wood, sisal, carpet, wicker), your cat still insists on using your furniture.
2. Your cat is not an angel and likes to swat two and four-legged family members with claws extended.
3. The cat lives with an elderly person or young child who could be easily injured by the cat unintentionally.
4. You have been considering having you cat declawed. Because nail caps do not hurt the nails, nor amputate the first toe digit, it is a humane alternative.
5. They are awesome fashion fabulous! With so many colours available you can have a new theme every second month, like pink and red for Valentines or black and orange for Halloween.
Reasons NOT to use nail caps:
1. Your cat has an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. For the same reason a declawed cat should be never be allowed outside, a cat with nail caps has far less ability to defend itself from territorial cat fights and predators, or escape up a tree.
2. Your cat is elderly. Most elderly cats really slow down on sheathing their nails and using the scratching post. This means the layers of nail cuticle build up to a wide, thick structure. This needs to be visually checked regularly by the owner to prevent it from growing into the pad. Also, because of this wider structure, nail caps may not fit over the nail.
3. Your cat has an infected nail bed, or some other foot fungus, or injury. Common sense prevails.
What could go wrong with nail caps:
When there is a problem, and the cat seems continually uncomfortable or gnawing at the nail caps, it is inevitably human error with the application. To avoid discomfort, use an experienced Certified Feline Master Groomer to do the nail cap application.
1. Too much glue was used and the overflow has gotten on the hair and pads. If you have ever spilled super glue on your fingers, you know how annoying and uncomfortable that can be.
2. The nail cap was put on too far, or with the nail fully extended, and now the nail cannot properly retract to it's normal position. You can imagine how uncomfortable that would feel.
I hope that answers most questions pertaining to using nail caps for your cat. As I mentioned I went from dubious to a fan of nail caps, especially when it helps reinforce a positive relationship between the cat and its owner.
In a previous post I talked about the lion trim and the pros and cons of the trim and why people may opt to have their cat trimmed in this fashion. I would like to illustrate the different styles of lion trims (yes, there are different styles!) that use the contrast of long and closely trimmed areas depending on the condition of the cat and the owner's individual preferences.
I must stress as a pet professional I DO NOT do lion trims on outdoor cats from October to April in my area. I will also NOT SHAVE SENIOR CATS in a lion trim as their lack of muscle mass and body fat makes the risk incredibly high to cut them, plus they are unable to regulate their body temperatures as well as when they were in their youth. I leave risky trimming decisions like those to the veterinarian.
The first photo is a classic lion trim with full boots and a full mane. Attractive on most cats (except the pudgiest of cats where nothing is left to hide), it includes shaving the tail with a proportionate tail tuft which varies depending on the length and texture of the individual's tail hair. The mane follows the line of the shoulder blade.
The second photo is a lion trim that has no mane and the trim was taken to just behind the ears. This was out of necessity as there were big mats behind the ears and the bib which left virtually no mane to work with. Some clients prefer less mane.
This tail is a full tail. The body hair on most cats is not as long as the tail hair. This is a good option for long-coated breeds such as Persians and Maine Coons as the tail is very long and full and takes over a year to grow again compared to the body typically growing out by six months. If you have a gorgeous tail on your cat, I encourage you to keep it!
I've included this photo to illustrate what I personally feel is inappropriate trimming. Some clients want me to trim as much hair off their cat as possible, meaning they ask me to trim their faces, legs and paws. The answer is a resounding NO!
Aside from looking silly and uneven, these areas are very sensitive with tactile whiskers in the back of the limbs and paws, plus they contain tendons which are easily injured. There is absolutely no professional justification to trim these areas. So as a professional Certified Feline Master Groomer, don't bother asking if I will even consider it.
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Janet Wormitt, CFMG CFCG
Cat-a-lyst and Ad-vo-CATe