This cat might look a little scary, but it's actually just letting out a meow during a grooming session. Reading the body cues of cats is one of the keys to successful cat grooming.
Whenever we get a group of groomers together here at PetEdge, one of the subjects that invariably gets discussed is cat grooming.
For many groomers, it's the ultimate "do you or don't you?" question.
Some love to groom cats and will take cats on in bunches.
Others prefer to stick with dogs.
And there are those who have never tried cat grooming, but are interested in finding out more.
So what does a groomer need to know to start grooming cats?
What are the challenges and the opportunities out there?
Since we're lucky enough to have an experienced cat groomer on our product support team, we thought we'd explore some of unique challenges and opportunities that come with grooming cats.
1. Cats Don't Take Long
Cats are relatively easy to groom. They're smaller and lighter than dogs, which makes them easier to bathe, brush, dry and handle in the shop. If you set aside one day a week to groom cats, you can get a lot of them done in a relatively short amount of time.
2. Cats Can Make Your Business More Viable
No, you're not going to find a tabby that's good with spreadsheets or a Persian with a knack for PowerPoint presentations. But groomers who add cat grooming to their list of services can boost the reach of their business. Adding cat grooming services will not only let you market to a whole new group of people (cat customers), it will also make you more attractive to customers in search of one-stop grooming. Someone who owns a dog and a cat may be more likely to come to your shop if they can get the whole "family" groomed there.
If you're a contract groomer or an independent groomer, adding cat grooming to your resume can make you a more attractive job candidate.
3. Cat Grooming Provides A Needed Service
Providing a cat with regular groomings helps to keep their coats in good condition. A professional grooming job helps to eliminate mats and tangles and reduces the need for self-grooming, which in turn cuts down on the amount of hairballs that the cat ingests. A clean, well groomed cat is much less likely to develop skin conditions.
1. Cat Behavior is Tough to Decode
One of the biggest challenges of grooming cats is their unpredictability. Like dogs, cats come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments. If you haven't worked with them before, it can be tough to pick up on their body cues at first.
Telltale signs like the twitch of a tail, stiff posture, dilated pupils, or flattened ears can be very subtle. Always keep your eyes on the cat to watch for these subtle changes and be prepared in case the cat makes a move.
2. Cat Skin is Tricky to Work With
Unlike dogs, a cat's skin is not attached to the muscle underneath. This gives cats more flexibility and allows them to squeeze in and out of tight spaces. But because the skin is not anchored down, a small cut can quickly turn into a big problem.
What starts out as a blade nick can often require stitches to close because there's nothing to stop the cut from spreading. We recommend using only a #10 blade when grooming cats to reduce the risk of cutting the skin.
If you need to give a cat a haircut, it is sometimes an “all or nothing” proposition. Most of the time a cat's coat will mat all the way to the skin. Clipper blades will not go through the mat, they have to go underneath, which often means shaving the entire cat down.
Using longer blades to try to keep a cat's coat longer does not usually work well. The blades are thicker and this can cause the blade to slide over the cat's coat instead of going through it. This sliding can make for a very bad haircut, leaving the coat choppy or ridden with divots.
Plus the longer blades have wider spacing, and you run the risk of giving the cat a nasty nick because of how unique the skin is.
3. Cat Bites Need Quick Treatment
According to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, up to 80 percent of cat bites that are not properly treated will develop an infection. By contrast, only 3 to 18 percent of dog bites become infected without treatment.
So if you're going to start grooming cats, it's smart to keep a supply of antibiotics on hand. If you are bitten while grooming, call your doctor or go to the emergency room ASAP.
An infection can set in within hours, so it's important to start treatment immediately.
4. Grooming Products Must Be Cat-Approved
Check the labels of the grooming products you use to make sure that they're approved for cats as well as dogs. Cats (much more than dogs) groom themselves by licking their coats, so there are certain shampoos and treatments you should avoid. Stay away from shampoos with tea tree oils or synthetic permethrins, and always check the labels of any product to make sure it's approved for dogs and cats.
Now we want to hear from you. Do you groom cats? If so, is there an opportunity or a challenge that we missed from our list?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post your comments on our facebook wall.
CAT GROOMING SUPPLIES
Did you know that PetEdge has an online home for cat grooming products? Visit us at www.petedge.com/catgrooming to see our collection of cat-friendly grooming tables, restraints, tools, shampoos and more.
Thanks and happy grooming :)