Cat grooming is risky. It can be dangerous for the cat, and it can be dangerous for the groomer. It is a professional's job to understand the potential risks and trying to minimize them.
This week there was a challenging groom. A badly matted elderly Persian with a bad attitude. Although the hair hadn't formed a solid pelt, yet, it was still badly matted throughout, even the legs and head. As usual, the tightest mats were in the trickiest, most dangerous places to access on a cat. I wasn't going to torture the cat by trying to de-mat it. The only option was to shave it all off and start over.
Doing a temperament and physical assessment confirmed my first impressions. This cat needed help desperately but was going to fight every step of the way. Being properly prepared in advance with an action plan, tools and equipment within easy reach, plus speed certainly made all the difference. No one was injured, except maybe a certain kitty's pride. She was certainly feeling much better afterwards, especially after the bath. How could any creature have a positive outlook when every step is painful from hair tugging from the knots. The bruising exposed under the knots tells the tale.
This groom could have gone very badly in the wrong context, fortunately this cat came to the right place. Not to say I will or can do all cats. If I can't handle it alone, I will refer those cats to grooming under vet supervision. That option is unfortunately very expensive. Using multiple people to handle or restrain a cat, in my opinion, makes the cat even more defensive, aggressive, and multiplying the risk of injury.
So why intervene? Why risk hurting the cat, or getting yourself hurt? Compassion actually. Call it tough love, or advocating for cats, but someone has to help them. You can't just ignore the filth, the mats, the sores, or the bruising. They won't go away by themselves. So risk assessment is necessary, a plan of action to correct a situation, and a maintenance schedule put in place to prevent it from happening again. It is the right and humane thing to do.
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Janet Wormitt, CFMG CFCG
Cat-a-lyst and Ad-vo-CATe