When people hear that I am a dog groomer the first question I usually get is, “Have you ever been bitten?” The truth is, yes I have been bitten, but not by a dog. I was bitten by a cat. In fact, in all my years in the business, I have seen more groomers bitten by cats than by dogs. That is the reason that most groomers refuse to groom cats. It is harder to read the actions and expressions of cats, which will make it more likely for an accident will happen. There are, however, advantages of taking on the challenge of grooming cats. Since not many groomers will do it, you are more likely to get the business. Also, you can charge much more for grooming a cat than you would for grooming a dog.
Things to Think About
A cat has much thinner skin than a dog. If it is matted, you will need to use a #10 blade to get under the mats. Even if you could use a #7 blade, it is much more likely to snag the skin. If you accidently snag the cat’s skin in a blade it will create a large wound, and you will have to seek veterinarian care.
Some groomers recommend that a cat be sedated for grooming. It is your personal choice as to whether you sedate them or not, I chose not to. For me, it was easier to have one person hold the cat behind the ears while another one did the actual grooming. This meant that it took more time and two people, but customers were willing to pay extra so that their pet didn’t have to be unconscious during the procedure. Some cats, as they age, are unable to clean themselves and develop large areas of matting. If the cat is too old, the risks of sedation are really high, and customers just do not want to chance it.
A bite from a cat, while not as severe as a dog bite, carries its own special risks. Cats carry different bacteria in their saliva than dogs do. In fact, when I was bitten, the nurse told me that about 80% of cat bites become infected. Due to the high rates of infection, if you are bitten by a cat, you will automatically be prescribed antibiotics.
Useful Tools For Making Your Decision
There are some tools that will help you if you decide to groom cats. I didn’t use all of them, but, I can see how they would be useful.
- Cat Bag: A cat bag is a mesh bag that you can place the cat in for bathing. It prevents the cat from being able to scratch or bite you. I have no personal experience with this product, but many groomers rave about them.
- Screen: What I used in the bath tub was a simple framed screen. The cat will be able to claw onto the screen. This both prevents it from scratching you, and makes the cat feel more comfortable during the bath.
- Cat Muzzle: You will not be able to use a dog muzzle for cats, so it is very wise to invest in a special cat muzzle. It should cover the mouth of the cat as well as the eyes. When the cat cannot see it will relax easier and not stress over different sights.
- Fast, Cool Clippers: As well as being more prone to scraps and skin wounds, a cat is also more susceptible to burns. Make sure that your clippers run very fast, and that your blades stay cool.
Styles for Cats
Lion Cut: A lion cut for a cat is very similar to a dog lion cut. Leave a mane, a ball on the tail, and booties, if the customer prefers. Shave the rest of the cat down with a #10 blade. This is the most popular cat groom with my customers.
Clean Shaved: Some customers think that the lion cut makes their cat look silly, so they prefer that the entire animal be shaved down with a #10 blade. Keep in mind that a cat uses its’ whiskers for balance and depth perception, so never cut the whiskers.
Cool Down: The cool down is a simple bath, thorough brush out, and a belly shave. This is a very popular choice in the summer for cats that have long hair. The shaved belly will keep the underside of the animal cool in the warm weather. I also usually do a potty area trim for cats that are receiving the cool down trim.
Allergy Bath: Another very popular, and lucrative, package to offer is the allergy bath. It is a weekly to bi-weekly bath program. I bath the cats in a special shampoo that reduces the dander and allergens on the pet. Many customers have had success using this program. It is great for people who suffer from cat allergies, but want to keep their pet.
Don’t Do It Unless You Think You Will Enjoy It
If you are not going to be able to relax and have fun while grooming cats, don’t do it. Cats are very receptive to your emotions, so if you are up tight and nervous the entire time the cat will not be able to relax. I have noticed that cat owners tend to be more lenient than dog owners when it comes to creativity. I have dyed many cats, and even groomed one cat with a Mohawk down the entire back. The customer then asked me to add bright pink bows down the length of the Mohawk. It was so much fun to do, and the cat was a pleasure to work with. Most cats, after a few trips to the groomer, will become a dream to work with. Some of the cats I work on are much easier than dogs. Take it slow and first and it will pay off big in the end.