Secrets of a cat groomer. Blow drying without blowing up.

You know the saying, “It’s not the heat. It’s the humidity.”  With cats, “It’s not the bath. It’s the blow-drying.”

I wish cats looked like this during drying.

Womenblowdryer

 

Instead, they usually look like this.

Shockedkitten

How do professional cat groomers blow dry cats without scaring the cat or creating an explosion of claws and fangs?

I choose my tools after doing much research. Dogs tend to react more calmly than cats to loud or harsh noises. I tailor my tools to cats only, since I am a specialist.  I talk to other groomers, spend time online reviewing spec sheets, go to trade shows and generally immerse myself in the topic.

My latest discovery is the Dog Shammy Dog Dryer. The dryer has only been available for a year.  As far as I know, I am the first and only professional cat groomer in Manhattan to use it.

Despite the name, the dryer is perfect for cats. In fact, I think it even better for cats than it is for dogs.

Dogshammy

Why would a professional cat groomer choose this dryer?

  • Due to increased insulation, the sound is soft, instead of tinny and harsh. Soft noises are more soothing to cats.
  • The air flow is adjustable, so high air flow can be used for the body, while low air flow is used for the head and tail.
  • The motor is powerful, so cats dry quickly. Less time spent grooming, more time spent playing with their human.

Dryer controls

 

Here’s to clean, un-matted cats with beautiful dry fur!

 

Working with animals shines a spotlight on character

Speed. It’s a quality. Is it a value? Is working fast always better?  No, of course not. When I feel the temptation to value speed over being gentle, patient and careful, that’s when I find out what I’m made of.  Animals can’t talk. They can act out their frustration or discomfort, but they can’t tell you that you’re being a jerk.

What will I do when I feel time pressure? Will I brush a little too hard? Will I hold the cat too tightly?  Will my body tense up, so that the cat feels nervous? Cats can feel the tension in your body, just as we can feel the moment when their body tenses up. We instinctively know that tension means trouble.

Will I reach my higher goal, which isn’t speed. It’s character development. Will I be the person I want to be? Will this animal be the vehicle — a better word is “guide” — taking me toward my  best nature?

Everything we do is  an excuse to develop. Stocking shelves in a warehouse is an excuse to develop, but the stakes are lower. If you work with animals and don’t aim high, the animals will pay a price.

Arthritis in older cats & grooming matted seniors

Imagine what it would be like if a hairdresser pulled on your grandmother’s arms and legs while doing her hair.  Would your grandmother be happy or upset?  Would you feel good about the situation, or would you feel worried?

Grooming the older, matted cat poses challenges which are distinct from the challenges involved in grooming a young or middle-aged cat. Cats whose fur is matted require either de-matting with a comb/brush, or shaving/trimming the fur, in addition to bathing. Bathing relieves the skin of excess oil, dandruff and dirt.  Trimming the claws is part of the health care process, since elderly cats can develop ingrown claws which penetrate the paw pad.

A younger cat may object to being groomed, but as long as the groomer is careful, discomfort can be avoided.

With an older, matted cat, discomfort may be unavoidable due to arthritis.

“In one study published in 2002, 90% of cats over 12 years of age had evidence of degenerative joint disease. This included cats with so-called ‘spondylosis’ of the spine (a form of degenerative joint disease). However, even when these cases were excluded, around ⅔ of the cats still had radiographic signs of arthritis affecting the limb joints. More recent studies have shown radiographic evidence of arthritis in the limb joints affecting between 60% and more than 90% of cats. All these studies show that arthritis is actually very common in cats, that it is much more common (and more severe) in older cats, and that the shoulders, hips, elbows, knees (stifles) and ankles (tarsi) are the most commonly affected joints.”

(Published in International Cat Care, “Arthritis and degenerative joint disease in cats.”)

I prefer to groom senior cats on a two to four week schedule, so that mats don’t get the chance to form.  When shaving matted underarms and groins, it is difficult to avoid holding the elderly cat in a position that will put stress on their joints, since the skin must be stretched taut to avoid nicking their fragile skin.

The best option is frequent brushing and combing sessions with a cat groomer, so that the stresses of shaving can be avoided. Letting the cat live with mats is not an option.  Mats pull at the skin, prevent air circulation, and create fertile ground for infection.

It is far easier to gently brush fur and comb fur than it is to complete a full body shave.  Think of your grandmother (the nice one, not the mean one) . . . now call the cat groomer.

Cinnamon, I miss you!

Why do I groom cats?

Why do I groom cats?

I want to help people and cats share their lives in harmony and comfort.

When your cat is soft, clean and fluffy, don’t you feel great holding your cat?  Who could resist?

Grooming increases closeness between cat and owner.

I am proud to be part of this important, comforting relationship.

This is why I am a house call cat groomer in New York City.

Review of “The Cat Grooming Guide” by Sam Kohl

The Cat Grooming Guide

Rating: 4 stars (****)

Brief overview of basic cat grooming in a salon setting. Easy to read. Seems to be most suitable for beginners who are exploring cat grooming, or for professional groomers who are interested in quickly reading about a slightly different approach.  Not suitable for those who want specific techniques explored in detail.

The drawings charmed me. If you are looking for photographs of techniques or of cats, this will not be a satisfactory book for you.

Sam Kohl covers cat handling, bathing, brushing, de-matting, drying, breeds, and the cat grooming business, among other topics. Each topic is allotted 3-8 paragraphs. Much of the book consists of drawings. He does not go into the specifics of how to do a “lion cut,” nor does he discuss clippers.

Pro: Emphasizes protective gear and safe handling.

Con: Repetitive material.