Typically in the working world there are three words that accompany the higher paying jobs: dirty, difficult, and dangerous.
I have been a professional pet groomer for many years and I have to be honest and tell you that pet groomers are very under paid and under appreciated for what they do. Pet grooming is very dirty, from feces, to fleas, to inhaling dander. It is difficult; hard on your back, feet, hands, and it gets very hard when you have uncooperative clients. It can be dangerous from parasites, strain injuries, falls, and bites.
If you compared the square inches on a person's skull and what a hairdresser will charge you, for just a wash and trim, it would be on par to the square inches of a Yorkshire Terrier. We don't get a mani-pedi, Brazilian, ears cleaned included. We also usually sit still and don't try and bite our hairstylist. So when we encounter clients who complain why does it cost so much for a dog groom, they simply haven't considered the education and skill, the amount of products, metered water and electricity during peak hours, and the time to comb out. Pet grooming is very energy intensive.
Hair stylists have two kinds of hair to content with: straight and curly. A good stylist will go to trade shows to stay current with styles and techniques. Dog stylists have to content with eight different types of dog hair and a vast variety of breed specific styles and pet trims. Education for a quality groomer is also ongoing as equipment, styles, and products advance.
Cats generally have two types of hair and three lengths. A few exceptions would be some of the rare wire-coated breeds, wavy coated, and hair-less. By the square inch, cats have more real estate than a person's skull but a lot less than most dogs. Cats have very fine hair and it takes longer to dry per square inch than dog or human, plus they like to make it more difficult by staying tucked up and making the underside inaccessible to drying.
Pet groomers do not receive training on grooming cats, therefore when an attempt to groom cats with dog-centric equipment, products, and process goes amuck it can become very dangerous for the groomer and the cat. Cats are contortionists, own 18 weapons of mass destruction they aren't afraid to use, and have teeth that puncture a deep wound and infect the blood stream. Dog bites can be messy, but they are easy to clean. A bad cat bite can end your career.
If you are not paying attention to the very subtle warning signs of tension, a pet groomer can get caught by a "sudden" attack, or attempt at escape. It is no wonder many groomers will not groom cats or minimize contact by just spot shaving, or running a comb over a dirty, dandruffy cat with a nail trim for $50. A grooming (shave down) at the veterinary clinic will include sedation for the safety of the vet tech, and in our area will run about $300 and they aren't stylists. None of these services include solving the cause of the mats and dandruff in the first place; it's dirty and greasy and needs a bath.
Now that I have explained the "3 D's" of why it is more expensive to groom cats, I can also offer hope. With proper training and certification, there are some groomers who are truly qualified to groom your cat, in a safe, feline sensitive environment. Please look for a Certified Feline Master Groomer in your area. As they are a rare commodity, they do have the right to charge in a manner that gives value to their skill and knowledge in providing the best care and solutions for your cat.
As the Ottawa Human Society's volunteer cat groomer, I can attest that all the cats I groom there have never encountered any professional grooming before. To date, none have needed to be sedated or required more than just myself in handling, bathing and drying these grateful kitties. Every one of the cats I groom at the OHS receives a bath as a minimum, because it rejuvenates and cleans their skin and hair, and they feel much better afterwards. They get a fresh start. and a better chance for adoption. If grooming stray cats can be done in a productive, life-enhancing manner, why not spoil yours at a cat spa designed for cats?
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Walk-in nail trimming: Monday, Friday and Saturday 8:30-9:00 a.m.
Janet Wormitt, CFMG CFCG
Cat-a-lyst and Ad-vo-CATe