Cat grooming is filled with misdirected good intentions, misinformation, misconceptions, myths, and just flat out ignorance. We take horse grooming to a higher level than the feline that resides in our house, walks our counters, and sleeps with our kids. So why the blind spot? Why the incredibly low expectations?
Most uneducated attempts at cat grooming are a miss at best, and frequently a fail. It is doing your cat a serious disservice to it's long-term health, it's mental well-being, and your enjoyment of your pet. Let's face it, if it smells funky, feels greasy, looks dandruffy, or has chunks sprouting down it's back, how much time do you spend playing and cuddling it? It's more like having a roommate you avoid that doesn't wash.
New clients are often very apologetic. They believe their cat to be a self-grooming flunky. They don't know why the cat is in the state it's in. We expect the cat to stay beautiful and clean all on it's own because it spreads lots of time spreading spit all over it's hair. Hygiene standards changed for dogs when they stopped working for a living and we brought them indoors. The same should go for cats. I don't know any Pekingese who doesn't need regular brushing and bathing, why would a Persian be any different? If you do not have the time, or are unsuccessful in developing an enjoyable grooming routine with your pet, seek professional help for their health and well-being. You owe to them, as a responsible pet owner.
Owners and even pet groomers give-up or have incredibly low expectations when it comes to grooming cats. Here are a few of the statements or accepted norms/myths I encounter regularly, that as a professional, I have to debunk.
"Just comb out the mats"
You can't detangle fine cat hair once it mats. It must be pulled out. Pulling on mats is a great way to piss off the kitty, because IT HURTS. Loose hair + moisture + grease/dirt = MATS. Even if you pulled out the mats, they've already started elsewhere and be back even sooner because you've damaged the hair cuticles by combing when its dirty. You've done nothing to prevent it from happen again or to break the cycle.
"Just shave out the mats"
Some cats really don't like clippers. Then there's the really bizarre looking reverse mohawk/baboon butt creature wandering around your house after the chunks have been shaven off. Course it still is greasy, dandruffy, dirty and has the aroma of a litter-box. Don't you feel proud to share your living space with this poor creature?
"Just do a lion clip"
Do you get a better haircut if the barber just wets your hair with a spray bottle, or when you get a massaging hair wash and blow dry by a stylist? The results are dramatically different, you feel different. Now the cat just looks and feels naked AND dirty. That makes for a vengeful kitty. Doing an annual dirty shave-down because your cat is matted is inhumane and unhygienic. This is a house pet, not livestock like sheep or alpacas. Stop making excuses. There are better alternatives.
As a professional, I will not do or recommend any course of action I know is not a long-term solution for you and your cat. If I lower my standards, how could I be a professional? I would never do the "just" minimal with a dog groom, why would I do it to a cat? Your cat can be trained and pampered too, differently than a dog, but with the same goal and end result.
RAISE YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Your kitty will thank you for it. Most cats do enjoy being bathed and blow-dried. They particularly love how they feel afterwards and seek your admiration and affection.
All cats benefit from regular baths and grooming, but if your cat is any of the following issues: long-haired, over-weight, elderly, diabetes, kidney problems, depression, hairballs, dietary issues, or any number of well hidden feline health issues, you can improve their quality of life dramatically. How dramatic? We often have clients who don't recognize their own cat after just a professional bath and comb (no trimming).You just have to raise your expectations and try just one professional groom by a Certified Feline Master Groomer.
Reveal the glamour puss you may not realize you own.
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Janet Wormitt, CFMG CFCG
Cat-a-lyst and Ad-vo-CATe