One of the best things about being a part of the National Cat Groomers Institute is that I get to be around cats pretty much all the time.
We have a new office assistant at the NCGIA. His name is Kevin. I can tell there’s a kitten in the building because I keep finding random spots of disarray. The library has been slightly rearranged. Magazines are no longer in neat stacks – some are spilled on the floor, and curtains are all messed up. The work of a kitten, to be sure.
Meet Kevin (Kevin Stephen when he’s in trouble). A red tabby and white LH Exotic out of Cotn Hill Cattery. You can meet Kevin Stephen in person at the upcoming Atlanta Pet Fair.
I am a firm believer in competition bringing out the best in us. If it weren’t for competition, we would all get sloppy over time. Quality would be sacrificed and mediocre or inferior accomplishments would become acceptable. This is why competition is so great. It makes an athlete faster and stronger, it makes a student study harder, and it makes a groomer groom better.
If you take a look at the biggest icons in the dog grooming industry, past and present, how many of them have a background in competition grooming? How many of them have a background in show ring competition? Both of these arenas are competitive and bring out the absolute best in the groomer that is driven to win.
The show ring, in particular, is the very foundation for the many grooming standards that exist within the grooming industry. Breed standards as well as grooming standards are continually measured for excellence within the dog show world. Those very standards have been foundational to the type of work that is done on a daily basis in grooming salons around the world. This is accepted and expected when it comes to dog grooming. But what about cat grooming?
It wasn’t that long ago that no real defined standards existed for cat grooming. For a long time groomers have been applying their skills and knowledge of dog grooming to the occasional feline that frequents their salon, hoping that what is good for the dog is also good for the cat. While that may be true some of the time, most of the time it is not.
In 2007, the National Cat Groomers Institute of America arrived on the scene and set standards for feline grooming where none had existed before. Those very standards were founded upon competitive cat showing, just like dog grooming standards were. In this instance, what has been good for the dog, truly is good for the cat. Not only do the cats of the world benefit, but also their owners as they slowly begin to find more consistent standards no matter where they go to get their cat groomed.
Go visit a CFA cat show sometime. You can find a schedule of shows at cfa.org. They go on all over the world, every weekend of the year. Go see for yourself the various feline breeds that exist. Check out the multitude of colors and pay attention to the different coat types. Most importantly, check out who is making a judge’s top 10. Look at the exquisite grooming as the best of the best are presented. Cat fanciers KNOW how to groom a cat! They are, after all, being judged on their grooming almost every weekend. Well before I ever groomed cats for clients, I was grooming for show and being judged on my grooming nearly every weekend. Along the way I picked up several National and Regional awards including a National 3rd Best Cat in 2005. Cat showing is, in essence, a beauty contest for cats. The best groomer often takes home the booty.
Everything I learned in the show ring, I have applied to my feline grooming business. The results are amazing. My customers are happy. It doesn’t matter what breed of cat I am working with, it gets groomed in a way that best defines its standard. The final results should be show-worthy even when the cat is headed home to lie on the sofa. The owner sees the difference. The cat knows the difference. And so do I. You wouldn’t send home a dog with with a mediocre groom or one that didn’t meet its standard. So why is it okay to do that with a cat?
When it comes to providing the best grooming results possible, what is good for the dog, ought to be good for the cat. Exactly how that is achieved is another matter altogether.
These photos were taken recently of Cotn Hill Charleston’s King Cameron at his first show as an open. Breeder: Gina Harget, Cotn Hill Cattery Owner: Shirley Spigner Groomer: Danelle German, CFMG, CFCG Photographer: Larry Johnson, Johnson Photography
Even though very few of my clients over the years have actual show cats, this type of groom has been the foundation for them all.
I have always been a fan of poetry, particularly when i was younger and seemed to have more time for “stopping to smell the roses.” One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost, who is probably most well-known for his poem “Road Not Taken.”
The last lines of the poem…..
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I can relate. I find myself in this place that I could never have imagined…….the oddity, a pioneer. I am amazed at where this road has led. In it’s simplest form, this road is all about the transformation from bad to good.
This work was done by my daughter, Olivia, who has been grooming cats for most of her life and currently works as an instructor at the National Cat Groomers School. What she does is an art form and a rare one at that. The results of her work are greatly appreciated by our clients. And I’m sure the cats are thankful, too.
I love traveling this road that has often been a very bumpy one, many times requiring some actual trailblazing along the way. I love watching my daughter make her journey along the same path. Knowing that my efforts have made the road smoother for her and others that are choosing the same less-traveled route gives me a sense of great satisfaction.
Atlanta Pet Fair is just around the corner! If you've never been to this show, you need to check it out. I've been to a lot of trade shows and APF ranks at the top in the excitement and energy department. There's always stuff going on.
Visit the NCGIA booth while you're there. Watch a live cat grooming demo at the Wahl booth or catch one of my lectures.
The topics: Naked & Naughty or Just Plain Knotty (Includes live grooming demonstration)
Some cats should never be shaved and yet show up for that first grooming appointment because they are severely matted or pelted and then return again a year later in the same condition. This cycle, which is potentially dangerous for both cat and groomer, CAN be broken. Knowing what grooming services are best fitted to each individual cat and how to effectively communicate humane grooming care options to their owners is the first step in changing the cycle. Learn how to determine when shaving is the best option and when it is not, particularly when dealing with aggressive kitties. Make life better for your clients while growing your business at the same time!
How to Groom Cats and Live to Tell About It (Includes live grooming demonstration)
It’s no secret that cat grooming can be dangerous. But the dangers can certainly be minimized by using cat-friendly handling techniques and tools. Learn how to quickly and accurately identify a cat’s temperament before it is groomed. Learn how to bathe, dry, clip and trim a cat in ways that work best with each type of temperament. Groom cats with confidence and finesse and keep your clients coming back for more!
Stuff You Can Take to the Bank (Interactive workshop format)
This lecture will be very interactive and cover such topics as:
-How to figure out your potential and maximize it
-What specific things to focus on to effectively grow your business
-Identifying problems and creating real solutions
Bring YOUR questions, problems, and frustrations. We’ll work toward creative solutions as we cover some common grooming business topics and a whole lot more!
Lecture attendees get the mother of all lecture hand-outs: our new 2012 Culture Book. Absolutely free!
Our latest book, hot of the press: NCGIA 2012 Culture Book.
I have to say this was a really fun project to do! The idea came rather quickly and out-of-the-blue. When I presented the idea to our fabulous team, they jumped on it and we all set to work gathering the content for the book in record time!
Liz Boles, one of our instructors and also our behind-the-scenes design girl, got to work putting the book together while I frantically wrote out content (Liz did an aMaZing job!). Dana set to work collecting the missing pieces and contacting some CFMGs to gather photos and updates. Olivia groomed more cats so we could gather more photos to go along with some of the content. And Monica, Chloe and Dollar all worked extra hard by napping on our desks and holding down all the papers and files.
Before long the culture book idea was an actual book. We had the publishing company ship off a few boxes of books for distribution at the Pasadena Groom and Kennel Expo (where I am as I write this post). And the rest were delivered to our headquarters to be added to our store inventory. (I have to say, I think the books are very pretty all stacked up in a neat pile.)
So what is a culture book exactly?
Well, culture is defined this way:
The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.
These patterns, traits, and products considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population: Edwardian culture; Japanese culture; the culture of poverty.
These patterns, traits, and products considered with respect to a particular category, such as a field, subject, or mode of expression: religious culture in the Middle Ages; musical culture; oral culture.
The predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization.
Intellectual and artistic activity and the works produced by it.
Development of the intellect through training or education.
Enlightenment resulting from such training or education.
A high degree of taste and refinement formed by aesthetic and intellectual training.
Special training and development: voice culture for singers and actors.
Personally, I like definition #4 most of all. However, together in their totality, these definitions provide a well-rounded description of the ingredients we’ve cooked up in book form; the NCGIA culture in 171 pages that contain both written material and photographs. Content includes the NCGIA mythology, the personalities of our team, news from CFMGS around the globe, the NCGIA environment and vision, a strong case for WHY we advocate for cats, a plethora of tips and tricks to help with the actual grooming of cats, and more!
I just gave away NCGIA 2012 Culture Books to all of the attendees at my lectures here in Pasadena yesterday. And we’ll be giving away more at my lectures at Atlanta Pet Fair next month. These are the mother of all lecture hand outs! I promise, you’ve never gotten a hand out quite like this one before.
If you aren’t attending any of these lectures, the book is available to you throughour online storeat a discounted price for a limited time. The “Tidbits” chapter is worth every penny all by itself.
Be a part of the amazing and ever-growing NCGIA culture!
The NCGIA is not me. It is not the people that work here and keep it running. It is not just about grooming cats. It is so much more than that! An entire culture that is invading the world and making a difference. It is truly some thing I am proud to be a part of!