What to Expect When Taking Your Cat to a Cat Groomer
If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve never thought about taking your cat to a groomer. You probably think since they spend hours a day grooming themselves, they must be clean.
Yet, the growing number of cat groomers says otherwise.
Whitney Bullock of The Charleston Cat Groomer in Charleston, SC says, “ When they lick themselves, they’re just licking. They’re not cleaning themselves but they are ingesting fur.” Check out Whitney’s talent in these cat grooming before and after photos below!
All that fur ingestion often leads to coughing up hairballs as you know. Though it can also build up inside and cause dangerous blockages that require surgery.
Bullock says a regular grooming schedule reduces such risks and keeps cats clean right down to their skin. Plus, their fur is free of mats. “Cats do like to be clean. They’re much happier. Imagine if you never took a shower or brushed your hair. That’s what an ungroomed cat feels like. They turn into a much more social creature when they’re clean.”
Yet, many cat enthusiasts are surprised at the idea of cat grooming. They often have imaginative ideas of indignant felines with outstretched claws ready to take a swipe at anyone foolish enough to suggest a bath. That is until they speak with a Certified Feline Master Groomer like Whitney.
She says, “I want it to be pleasant for them. If the cat is introduced to the grooming process calmly, many of them come to enjoy a day of pampering at the salon.”
Healthy animals have a shiny, smooth coat with clear skin underneath. Cat grooming can address the underlying health issues that often show up with dry, brittle fur and flaky skin.
Nancy Howard of The Whole Cat & Kaboodle in Redmond, Washington says her mission is to help people “see and understand the world from the cat’s perspective.” Says few people recognize the connection between diet and health which shows up in the coat.
Below we cover a few health reasons for grooming your feline as well as what you can expect when you take your kitty in for an appointment.
Why Should I Take My Cat To A Groomer?
Cats benefit from grooming just like dogs. Regular grooming removes loose fur and dirt. It also smooths out mats and tangles and redistributes the natural oils.
Cats can have 130,000 hairs covering their body so it’s not surprising they could use a little help keeping them healthy. If you have a long-haired cat like a Persian or Maine Coon, you know they require regular brushing to prevent matted fur.
Whitney Bullock says, “Grooming prevents problems. I once saw a cat that was matted so much the fur adhered to the skin. I’ve seen a cat with such mats they couldn’t move their legs. It also prevents problems like ingrown toenails.”
Nancy Howard says, “90% of the grooms we do are therapeutic. We see burn scars from topical flea treatments. We see cats with matted fur. Many of the cats we see are inflamed which means they’re on a dry diet.”
Inflammation in cats can cause gut issues as well as skin problems. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to fighting invaders. Those invaders can be virus-causing germs or bacteria entering the body through a cut. Foods high in carbohydrates (like dry food) can also cause inflammation.
As you know, a big part of a groomer’s job is client education. That often means answering grooming-related questions as well as overall health. As a groomer, you’ll inspect a kitty for parasites and any odd lumps or bumps. This can help catch potential issues before they turn into serious problems.
When people know more about healthy ways to care for their pets, they’re more likely to make sure they get the ongoing care they need.
This is just a handful of reasons why it makes sense to take your cat to the groomer on top of their regular grooming habits.
What to Expect When You Take Your Cat to a Groomer
Firstly, many catteries are just that, a cattery. Many trained cat groomers only focus on cats, not dogs. As a result, the salon is quieter than a dog grooming salon.
Having a cats-only environment helps put the kitties at ease. That’s the first step in a successful grooming process.
Nancy Howard says, “From the cat’s perspective when they’re taken into a new environment, they don’t know if there are predators there. As a result, they go into a fight, flight, or freeze mode.”
Which of the three it is, depends on how she handles the kitty as she has different techniques. She also says, “We do a two-person groom which is unusual. We have a handler and a groomer. We want to go as safe and as fast as we can.”
Whitney Bullock conducts an assessment with each new cat much as a dog groomer might do. Much of her clientele keeps a regular grooming schedule such as every two weeks.
She asks questions about the cat owner’s goals and expectations for their kitty. “I ask how they want their cat to look? Do they want a full-coat? Or a trim? And we talk about home grooming. What do they want for their cat’s coat? Some say they want a giant fluffy cat. Some people want a show cat and others just want a pet with easier maintenance.”
Once the expectations are established, Whitney can work her magic. “I introduce the cat calmly to the grooming process. I want it to be a pleasant experience.”
Most cat groomers offer various grooming services and packages based on the pet’s needs. For example, some include a quick service brush out, nail trim, and de-shedding to cover extensive mats. (Whitney has a “hot mess” category for seriously matted felines that take hours to groom.)
Nancy offers a la carte services and may only shave a matted area and comb the kitty out. “Not every cat needs a bath. We try to meet the need with minimal assault.”
Below are the most common services you can expect from a cat groomer.
1. Cat Groomers Can Safely Give Your Cat a Bath
If you have an image in mind of dunking your kitty into a tub of water, that’s not the case. No one would like such an approach, least of all Fluffy.
Instead, cat groomers introduce the cat slowly to water if they’re going to bathe them.
Whitney Bullock says, “I know how to hold them with my hand on their chest in a way that makes them feel secure in the bathtub. Go slow. You don’t just dunk them. You let them get used to it.”
She also says, “9 out of 10 cats are fine. I have 800 clients and only 10 don’t do well. These are the same 10 who stress out at the vet’s too.”
After the cat acclimates to the bathing concept, Whitney gives the kitty a good scrubbing. Some cat groomers may use flea shampoo or other specialty products depending on the cat’s needs.
2. Cat Groomers Offer Basic Nail Care
Keeping your kitty’s nails trimmed is an essential part of cat care. Cat groomers trim up to the quick, which is the pink part of each claw that houses sensitive nerves and blood vessels.
When you don’t trim claws often enough, it can lead to a lengthening of the quick. However, with steady claw trimming it will eventually recede. It will require more frequent trimmings the first few weeks before returning to a manageable length.
However, maintaining short nails is important to prevent it from happening again. Most cat groomers provide this service on every visit, which may be every 4-6 weeks or sooner, depending on your cat’s level of care.
As you know, a cat’s claws are their weapons. But you might not realize they’re also needed for balance. Cats are known as digitigrade. This means they walk on their toes and it helps them sneak up on prey.
As a result, you don’t want to declaw a cat. However, you also don’t want them sharpening their claws on your furniture. A cat groomer can safely trim a cat’s nails
3. Cat Groomers Provide a Thorough Brushing and/or Trim
Even short-haired cats need regular brushing to get rid of dead hair. Long-haired cats may need daily brushing.
Cat groomers go above and beyond your regular brushing session. They tackle matted fur and knots and provide a trim to long-haired pets who need more maintenance.
For example, some groomers will shave a cat’s fur to ½ length (if that’s what the customer wants.) Some cats appreciate having less fur, especially in the summer.
Some long-haired cats have a tendency to grow fur between their toes. This can aggravate your pet, lead to accumulated litter box debris, or even impact their traction when leaping to your balcony railing.
A trained cat groomer can trim up your pet’s coat and brush it out leaving it smooth and silky. Many cat owners don’t realize that their pet actually has whiskers near the back of their legs and near their pads. Groomers will know how to navigate this area without impacting these important tactile hairs.
For example, Nancy Howard says they “When we do the front boots, we don’t take it down to the paw, we’ll go an inch and a ½ to 2 inches so from the shoulder. If you shave off those back whiskers, it’s disorienting. While today’s house cats don’t have the same levels of requirements for fending off prey, these whiskers are meant to alert the cat to potential prey through vibrations. Losing them would be similar to having to read without your glasses. It’s part of their hardwiring.”
They will also keep an eye out for any signs of skin concerns, such as lumps, bumps, lesions, or missing patches of fur.
4. Cat Groomers Provide Ear Care
Cats aren’t able to maintain their ear care well on their own. A cat groomer will check the inner and outer ear to make sure it’s clean while making note of any:
- Bald Spots
- Caked Ear Wax
These are all signs that may require medical attention from a veterinarian.
As people become more aware of health and hygiene, they’re more inclined to want professional grooming for their pets.
IBISWorld estimates the pet grooming industry as a 7.4 billion industry. It shows no sign of slowing down. Once pet owners realize they can improve the health of their pets with appropriate grooming (and diet), they’re eager to make changes.
Whitney has regular clients who drive up to two hours each way for cat grooming.
How Do You Become a Cat Groomer?
“You can be very busy as a cat groomer,” says Whitney Bolluck and with fewer than 500 Certified Feline Master Groomers in the country, it’s not hard to believe. She has regular clients who come as far as two hours away to get their cats groomed.
The National Cat Groomers Institute teaches would-be groomers the proper holds, techniques, and processes to groom cats with confidence. Once completed, students hold the title of Certified Master Feline Groomer and they’re in high demand.
As with any grooming business, cat groomers benefit from easy-to-use software that helps them streamline scheduling and client communication.
Whitney appreciates this software because she can run her whole business from her phone. Nancy, a customer since 2013 says “Daysmart Pet never goes down. It’s one of the parts of my business that’s so reliable I don’t even think about it. It handles boarding, grooming, and retail. If I have a problem, I have my own customer service representative who fixes things for me.”
If you’d like to see how Daysmart Pet can help your business, sign up here for a free trial.