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.
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.
It is very common for cat owners to seek professional grooming help for the first time when their cat becomes a senior. "My cat stopped grooming itself." This may be partially true, but as a cat owner, responsibility for grooming is a shared one.
Regular home grooming helps an owner monitor the health and condition of their beloved pet and immediately identify changes. It's heartbreaking that as seniors age, that they are often increasingly neglected and/or rejected because they smell bad, feel gross, or are cranky. These are the pets that actually need grooming more often. Why? Just like humans, our bodies betray us. They may seem less loveable, but they are still deserving of love and care. They need our help and assistance to stay clean, and feel better.
Here are some of the changes senior cats go through and why they seem to stop "self-grooming".
1. Arthritis. If your cat is not moving much, is particularly cranky being touched around its backside, or being picked up, it may be developing arthritis. A cat will curtail its grooming activity because it can't move the way it used to, and the activity is painful. It is best to have a veterinary do an assessment and make suggestions in relieving your cat's pain.
2. Weight problems. The days of kitty yoga are over, and half the real estate simply can't be reached. Often weight problems are tied with arthritis. Being overweight also contributes to a lack of wellness and can lead to depression.
3. Hidden medical issues. Cats are masters at disguising illness. Cats can go for years with diabetes, kidney or thyroid issues with owners completely unaware. It is particularly important for cats over 10 to see a veterinary annually for a check-up.
4. They sleep more. Healthy cats spend 50% of their awake time "self-grooming". If your senior spends more and more time sleeping, they amount of time spent on their hygiene decreases.
5. Their skin and fur changes. The skin becomes thinner and more delicate. Their muscle mass decreases. The fur changes in texture, density, and vitality as the ability to absorb and utilize nutrients and vitamins slows down.
6. Senility. Yes, elderly pets can suffer from dementia. They can forget about where the food bowl is, get lost within their own home, forget using the litter-box, and completely forget about their grooming schedule.
7. Not using the scratching post. This can be a combination of arthritis, overweight, depression or dementia. When a cat stops using it scratching post, take notice. The scratching post is a vital emotional outlet for cats plus it is the sole source of the cats ability to sheath its nails. If no sheathing occurs, the nail-bed continues to build-up until the nails grow around and into the pads. This is very painful and can cause infections. Check your elderly cat's nails at least monthly.
For all the reasons above, short or long-haired, mats will happen in senior cats. But mats are PREVENTABLE.
Mats are the bane of senior cats and they do not occur overnight. It takes time for the tiny knots to become an interwoven mushroom. Mats also will not dissolve or disappear on their own. and your cat will need help removing them. DON'T ever use scissors.
Prevention is the only cure for mats. That means a regular cleansing bath and comb schedule to keep the loose hair and dirt in check. A cat owner is responsible for grooming when the cat begins to slow down its habits and shows signs of a problem. Shaving is a risky final option because of the delicate skin, and the lack of ability of a senior cats to maintain their core body temperature with no hair. Shaving is not a long-term solution for seniors.
Love your cat, and take special care of your seniors.
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.
Typically in the working world there are three words that accompany the higher paying jobs: dirty, difficult, and dangerous.
I have been a professional pet groomer for many years and I have to be honest and tell you that pet groomers are very under paid and under appreciated for what they do. Pet grooming is very dirty, from feces, to fleas, to inhaling dander. It is difficult; hard on your back, feet, hands, and it gets very hard when you have uncooperative clients. It can be dangerous from parasites, strain injuries, falls, and bites.
If you compared the square inches on a person's skull and what a hairdresser will charge you, for just a wash and trim, it would be on par to the square inches of a Yorkshire Terrier. We don't get a mani-pedi, Brazilian, ears cleaned included. We also usually sit still and don't try and bite our hairstylist. So when we encounter clients who complain why does it cost so much for a dog groom, they simply haven't considered the education and skill, the amount of products, metered water and electricity during peak hours, and the time to comb out. Pet grooming is very energy intensive.
Hair stylists have two kinds of hair to content with: straight and curly. A good stylist will go to trade shows to stay current with styles and techniques. Dog stylists have to content with eight different types of dog hair and a vast variety of breed specific styles and pet trims. Education for a quality groomer is also ongoing as equipment, styles, and products advance.
Cats generally have two types of hair and three lengths. A few exceptions would be some of the rare wire-coated breeds, wavy coated, and hair-less. By the square inch, cats have more real estate than a person's skull but a lot less than most dogs. Cats have very fine hair and it takes longer to dry per square inch than dog or human, plus they like to make it more difficult by staying tucked up and making the underside inaccessible to drying.
Pet groomers do not receive training on grooming cats, therefore when an attempt to groom cats with dog-centric equipment, products, and process goes amuck it can become very dangerous for the groomer and the cat. Cats are contortionists, own 18 weapons of mass destruction they aren't afraid to use, and have teeth that puncture a deep wound and infect the blood stream. Dog bites can be messy, but they are easy to clean. A bad cat bite can end your career.
If you are not paying attention to the very subtle warning signs of tension, a pet groomer can get caught by a "sudden" attack, or attempt at escape. It is no wonder many groomers will not groom cats or minimize contact by just spot shaving, or running a comb over a dirty, dandruffy cat with a nail trim for $50. A grooming (shave down) at the veterinary clinic will include sedation for the safety of the vet tech, and in our area will run about $300 and they aren't stylists. None of these services include solving the cause of the mats and dandruff in the first place; it's dirty and greasy and needs a bath.
Now that I have explained the "3 D's" of why it is more expensive to groom cats, I can also offer hope. With proper training and certification, there are some groomers who are truly qualified to groom your cat, in a safe, feline sensitive environment. Please look for a Certified Feline Master Groomer in your area. As they are a rare commodity, they do have the right to charge in a manner that gives value to their skill and knowledge in providing the best care and solutions for your cat.
As the Ottawa Human Society's volunteer cat groomer, I can attest that all the cats I groom there have never encountered any professional grooming before. To date, none have needed to be sedated or required more than just myself in handling, bathing and drying these grateful kitties. Every one of the cats I groom at the OHS receives a bath as a minimum, because it rejuvenates and cleans their skin and hair, and they feel much better afterwards. They get a fresh start. and a better chance for adoption. If grooming stray cats can be done in a productive, life-enhancing manner, why not spoil yours at a cat spa designed for cats?
One of the people I respect most, Danelle German, President of the National Cat Grooming Institute was very kind to mention me in one of her recent blogs pertaining to the volume of cats vs. dogs and the lack of qualified professional feline groomers. Thank you Danelle.
Messed up Numbers - National Cat Groomers Institute of America
Messed up Numbers - by Danelle German, President of the National Cat Grooming Institute of America
A follow-up article to the previous State of the Cat Grooming Industry article
Last week I wrote an article entitled, State of the Cat Grooming Industry, which was published in the January 2014 edition of PetGroomer.com’s State of the Industry Report(also on my blog). As I flipped through the publication I was fascinated by some of the many statistics reported. In particular, I was glad to see that the survey results from over 10,000 respondents backed up my own survey findings by stating that, “Dog grooming (81%) was their primary interest and cat grooming (19%) second. However, interest in cat grooming continues to grow. In the last 5 years interest has more than doubled.”
In order to have growth such as this, there must first be a need. There must be actual consumers who are willing and able to pay for a product or service in order for the providers of the products or services to realize a pattern of growth with any consistency. Data clearly shows these consumers do exist. There is a need.
In fact, online reports from various sources show that there are more owned cats than dogs. In the US alone, there are close to 15 million more owned cats than there are dogs (see reports from Humanesociety.org). Canada follows suit with an estimated 2 million more owned cats than dogs. Other countries, such as Switzerland and Russia, report similar ratios. And some countries, such as Australia, show a reverse. Even so, there are an estimated 2.7 million owned cats living in the land Down Under. There is clearly a potential consumer pool in many parts of the developed world.
Even though the past few years has shown a steady increase in the number of professional cat groomers, and particularly those who offer some sort of feline-exclusive environment, the percentage of pet groomers offering these services is severely out of line with the number of estimated owned cats as mentioned in the previous paragraph. Sarah Miller, a CFMG in Michigan and a recent graduate of the National Cat Groomers School, wrote this in her survey response to us: “Feline care is poorly neglected compared to dogs.” She’s right. The numbers clearly show this. So what is the problem?
I believe that there are two primary causes for this imbalance. First, there are the myths that surround cats and their grooming needs. It is widely taught, even within the grooming industry, that cats groom themselves. As self-groomers, they have no need of human intervention to get them clean or take care of common skin and coat issues. I feel like a broken record repeating for nearly a decade and a half that cats do NOT groom themselves. I’ve been saying this to clients all along as I worked to build a steady clientele of caring cat owners who realized the importance of regular professional grooming for their felines. Cats do not groom, they lick. It’s that simple. A cat licks, it is covered in saliva and dander (and other icky things). It is dirty and greasy and somewhat smelly most of the time. If a cat is lucky, it is not also covered in mats or a thickly pelted layer of hair that was once long and silky. Back before the cat stopped grooming itself. (I am being sarcastic here.)
You can ask any groomer that’s had any small number of felines on his or her grooming table. Cats do not groom themselves. Cats do not use clippers or shampoo, they do not blow dry their hair or wield a comb or nail trimmer. They don’t clean their ears or rid themselves of waxy stud tail or keep their tushies all that clean. (Really, I promise. Check out your kitty’s butt sometime.) Cats are totally incapable of removing thick pelts of matted hair that eventually pull and tug on a cat’s body until it eats sores into the flesh if the pelt is not removed in a timely manner. Cats do lick, however, and ingest large amounts of dirty, shedding hair (sometimes with fleas), later to be regurgitated up in the form of a hairball (unless the hair decides to remain lodged in the cat’s intestines, only to be removed by a surgical procedure).
I believe the second cause of the percentage imbalance is directly related to the first. In the past, felines have generally been left out of the grooming industry, often times not considered at all even though the reference may be to “pet” grooming. Generally groomers think “dog” when hearing the term “pet groomer.” Of course, this has changed considerably since 2006 when I first started speaking at industry events and particularly later, in 2007, when the National Cat Groomers Institute was formed. But we still have a long way to go.
Janet Wormitt, a CFMG in Ontario who I first met while conducting some cat grooming classes in Kuwait City last year, wrote in her survey reply, “Cats are second-class pet citizens. (They) receive care only when it has become an extreme situation.” I have to agree with Janet. I have witnessed this attitude myself on more than one occasion. This way of thinking was my single biggest enemy when I started grooming cats for local patrons while still showing Persians in CFA. In the show world, I was surrounded by cat fanciers who spent inordinate amounts of time and a whole lot of money bathing and drying their cats to perfection in hopes of winning titles, points and pretty rosettes. When I started offering grooming services to local cat owners, I found that the vast majority of initial appointments were made because the cat was in very bad condition, well beyond anything that could be remedied at home. It was like being on another planet and left me continually thinking, “How on earth do these people let it get this bad?”
The trick, back then, was turning those first clients into regular clients who were more concerned about prevention and maintenance than about their wallet. I had to wean folks off of the myths that cats groom themselves and somehow their cat had suffered some temporary break-down in its self-grooming mechanism and here were are all matted up and in a really bad state. Time to call a pro. But surely this won’t happen again, right? Surely Fluffy will get back to grooming himself like before.
I found that my best weapon against myths and ignorance (and even against total lack of caring) was to WOW a client with a perfectly coiffed cat, groomed as if bound for a cat show to win “Best in Show.” It really didn’t matter what breed each cat was or even if it was a domestic mix-breed with origins completely unknown. The principles applied were just the same. The goal was the same: quality grooming that serves a true purpose in alleviating and correcting the existing problems that warranted the visit in the first place. Janet, up in Canada, is putting that very thing into practice and enjoying the results. She, like many others who are taking their job as a cat groomer quite seriously, are enjoying the benefits of clients that drive long distances for their services and are rebooking appointments as per the recommended schedule.
Even so, the myths that abound as well as the general attitude within the grooming industry still impact the growth of the feline-grooming industry, messing with the percentages and keeping them off-kilter. It is still commonplace for pet groomers that offer services for both dogs and cats to report that their cat clientele makes up a very small percentage of the total customer base. Carla Freestep, a groomer in California, wrote that while cats make up 20% of her total clientele, they make up only 10% of herregular clientele. Those myths are still leaving their mark.
With such high numbers of owned cats in developed countries and so few of that market actually being realized, there are some unique opportunities for those who do want to include cat grooming services on their menu. With that comes the unique challenges that I’ve already mentioned in this article. So who are the people that actually want to hurdle those challenges and go after that untapped market? What makes some of them only dabble in cat grooming while some of them are wildly successful, many times within a very short period of time?
I’ll address these questions in my next article, Who Grooms Cats and Why?. Stay tuned……
I want to come clean. I was a "pet groomer" too.
I had had a cat. Typical short haired domestic. Was I prepared to groom them professionally? Was I really qualified for the title Master Pet Stylist?
No way. Master Dog Stylist, perhaps.
Looking back I realize how completely out of my depth I was, and how unprepared the majority of "pet groomers" are when it comes to professionally grooming cats. Now to make myself very clear, I am NOT trashing fellow groomers, because it's not their fault. I know this because 15 years ago when I started doing cats, I realized I knew nothing about their specific handling or breed standard grooming. So I went searching for feline mentors, a school or course. I found none. So here is truth unleashed.
1. They don't teach cat grooming at pet grooming school. When I went to one of the top grooming schools in the U.S. to later fine-tune my pet styling, I saw ONE cat (for 30 students). One very brave cat. It wasn't part of the course curriculum, no zoology was discussed and there was no quantity of cats coming through the door to learn on. I didn't learn anything about feline temperaments, handling skills, diseases, styling options, etc. It was all dog biased. Like typical grooming salons everywhere, a cat is a novelty tacked on at the end of all the other dog services.
2. Dog Pet salons are designed for dogs. The cat is a very different species. Everything from the tables, tubs, dryers, tools, shampoos, restraints, and cages are designed for dogs. This does not bode well for the feline who has more sensitive hearing, highly reactive to change, tissue paper thin skin, different hair and a fight or flight mentality. They also hate the car ride. They are also well-armed. The whole grooming process we are taught, from start to finish, doesn't work for cats. So it can be very dangerous and hazardous to the cat and the groomer.
3. They don't feel good about the end result. I've been there. I also know that most groomers will tell you that your cat (who is shedding, has dandruff and messy bottom) doesn't need a bath because they don't want to be the one to do it. Think about it. The odds of a cat groom going well is heavily stacked against success. They didn't get proper training. They don't know safe and quick procedures to minimize feline stress. The salon environment is noisy and filled with dogs. They don't know or have access to feline specific tools and products. What typically ends up happening is you get a damp, greasy and freaked-out cat back, plus a hefty price tag. What pet groomer could feel good about doing that? They don't. So they prefer, consciously or not, to avoid it. "Cats groom themselves." If the cat ends up a a pet salon, it's because there is a problem. Shedding, mats, etc. As professionals we want to help, but the majority of us are ill-equipped. Fortunately, change is on the wind.
Cats do need baths. Some more than others. Educate yourself, and advocate for your cat. Prevent mats, shedding, hairballs, and other nasties that come from dirty loose hair. Get professional feline specific training. I'm grateful for mine and it made all the difference. By the end of a grooming session that includes dematting, bath, high velocity drying and sanitary trim, I have purring clients. How is that possible?I know know what I'm doing. I became a Certified Feline Master Groomer with the National Cat Grooming Institute of America. Teaching pet grooming in the Middle East where most of the client are washed and styled cats, not dogs, certainly accelerated my learning curve and skills
When done correctly, the bath is what felines like the best of the cat grooming process. I know this after doing hundreds of cat baths. But it has to be done right. With the right handling, equipment, and products. And no dogs allowed.
Surprisingly easy online booking. Book your full service appointment your way, on the day and time that works for you. No-brainer automated appointment confirmations, reminders, and receipts. No time-wasting email requests or phone tag.
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Janet Wormitt, CFMG CFCG
Cat-a-lyst and Ad-vo-CATe