Is Cat Grooming REALLY a Thing?
“Is cat grooming REALLY a thing?” I probably receive that question at least a dozen times a day on social media, and definitely at every school function or cocktail party when someone asks me what I do for a living. Cat grooming is definitely a thing- and it’s kind of having a moment right now. I like to think that I’ve had at least a small hand in that happening, but first let me tell you a little bit about how I stumbled into such a unique career!
How I Began my Career
I began my journey with cats in my early twenties when I took a position as a receptionist at a cats-only veterinary hospital. We had two amazing veterinarians on staff that were such cat people! They knew so many tricks and tips for handling every kind of cat, they really made it look easy. I picked up on the handling skills extremely quick, and before long my complete fearlessness of fractious cats helped me make the move to veterinary assistant. While working there I really started to understand the need for cat-specific grooming in my area and began to formulate a plan.
After my successful and memorable tenure at the veterinary clinic, I decided to make the move from medicine to grooming and never looked back. First as a mobile groomer, then finally in my own salon. When I began grooming, I wasn’t certified and I wasn’t 100% sure of what I was doing sometimes, and that’s just part of the journey in my opinion. I figured a lot out on my own but getting certified through the National Cat Groomer’s Institute really honed and refined my skills. Additionally, the certification inspired confidence in my abilities, from my clients and myself. It really fueled the next stage of my career, which I see as educating and inspiring cat owners about handling and grooming their own cats- something that seems insurmountable to them at first but can be surprisingly simple when armed with the right information!
What Owners Need to Understand:
One of the things owners need to grasp is how often their cat needs to be groomed. Of course, every cat’s coat is different, and every cat is different. Some cats need more frequent bathing than others for issues with drooling (just saw that the other day!), or for frequent diarrhea, but for the most part, I tell people to start with bathing every six weeks for long-haired cats, and every eight-to-ten weeks for short haired breeds. This schedule sets up the owner or their groomer for success by not allowing enough time for severe matting to occur- which is the ultimate goal here.
There are a ton of tools on the market geared towards cat grooming, but only a few that people need at home in order to be successful. They need a good detangling comb, a good de-greasing soap, a quality nail scissor that doesn’t shred the nail, ear protection, and a blow-dryer. That’s really it! I have all kinds of fancy tools and aids- I’m a Wahl Animal Ambassador so of course I love their clippers- but the average pet parent isn’t going to be shaving at home. They should really concentrate on mastering the nail trims and then the combing (in that order for obvious reasons)! Eventually working their way up to bathing and blow-drying when possible.
How Can Cat Owners be Successful:
All this being said- there are some cats that are extremely difficult to handle at home, no matter what you do. Treats can help (we use Love Nala tubes), I even use them to get things accomplished in the salon! Having a helper is also a game changer- a brave friend or spouse who is willing to hold the cat gently but firmly on its side while the owner attempts the combing or nail-trimming is always extremely helpful. The key is not to give up. The first attempt might not be successful, but I don’t think that’s a reason not to try again. Cat owners seems to let their cat “win” most of the time, whereas dog owners realize the importance of repetition and training to get the desired behavior. I want cat owners to flip that mindset and take some responsibility and control over their cat. Failure to do so can be absolutely devastating! Not every cat who isn’t combed at home will become severely matted and eventually must be shaved by a professional but there is a percentage that will.
Cats who aren’t groomed regularly also shed more, vomit more (you don’t have to see hair in it for the vomit to be hair-related) and have more urinary tract infections. Once owners are aware of all the benefits of regular grooming, they are usually on board! It’s important to note that extreme stress can affect a cat’s health by exposing or exacerbating pre-existing conditions, especially those with underlying heart conditions. This fact is often cited by people who are anti-cat grooming. I think it is helpful to point out that the incidences of health-issues caused by grooming are very rare, despite being very up-setting when they occur, partly because there was often no sign of heart disease prior to the groom. The incidences of health issues caused by failure to groom cats are not rare at all and are seen every day by veterinarians and groomers like myself. That’s part of why I became a groomer to begin with, and why I think it’s my personal mission to spread the word. I can’t wait for the day when people stop asking me if “cat grooming is really a thing.”
Whitney Bullock >^..^<