Dr. Fox Prefers Housecall Cat Grooming

Dr. Fox (veterinarian, author, PhD in medicine and a DSc in ethology/animal behavior from the University of London) was kind enough to reply to my email about house call cat grooming. (Italics & capitalization are mine)

“Many cat owners will appreciate your letter and need for in-home cat grooming services. This may be an incentive for other experienced groomers to offer house-visits rather than having cats come to them which can be very stressful for some cats while others cannot even be put into a carrier without prior habituation. Either way there is no excuse for cats becoming so matted from lack of regular grooming that they must be sedated and carefully clipped at a veterinary hospital, extreme stress and expenses which could be avoided by routine effective grooming by the owners or professionals such as yourself.

Dr. Fox is a long-time advocate for animals and has an extensive education in science.  I am so happy that he sees the value of house call cat grooming.

 

Trouble holding cat for claw trim?

I enjoy the challenge of claw trims.  Keeping the cat still can be a game of skill and imagination!  It’s hard to be more clever than a cat when it comes to keeping them from getting away during a claw trimming session.

Some gentle restraint techniques I’ve used:

No restraint. Just put the cat on a counter and trim the claws. Yay!

Hold the cat in my lap with their belly facing up, just like you’d hold a baby.

Wrap kitty up like a burrito in a big towel, pulling out the paw that I need.

Put cat on the counter, slide cat’s body up against mine so she is snug, and trim claws.

Any of the above, plus a snap-on E collar.

Sit on the floor on my knees, with kitty between my knees. Face a wall so kitty can’t run off.

Lay kitty on side with my forearm resting gently but firmly on their shoulders.  Trim the claws I can reach. Turn kitty onto other side and repeat.

Cats are flexible. As long as you don’t put them in uncomfortable positions, you can try different ways of holding them until you find the one that works.  Remember that trimming claws only takes a minute or so, so even if kitty isn’t thrilled, they are only one minute away from treats, praise and play time.  Not a bad deal!

Claw trimmer and cat's claw
Cat on my lap.

Butt shaves for kitties

I’m going to get special visitors due to this headline, but a butt is a butt.

Some kitties get messy. When long-haired cats drag a poopy rear around your home, you get an unsanitary situation. Kitty isn’t thrilled to be messy.  We want our cats to be happy, happy, happy, so let’s help them out.

Owners can usually manage to clean kitty’s rear with paper towels or pet wet wipes.  I suggest you do that as soon as possible for the sake of your home’s hygiene. If you wait for a groomer, you might wind up waiting too long, because groomers don’t always have appointments. So dive in and give it a shot!

What I can do is shave or trim the fur in the nether region. Shaving takes about 30 seconds, so not a big deal time-wise. Cats generally don’t want anyone messing with the rear, but this is so quick that they get over it fast.  Just have me over every so often to shave. You’ll never have to deal with poopy-bottom syndrome again. Woo hoo!

Cat Claw Growing into Pad? Ingrown Cat Nail?

How do you survive in a world of predators and prey? Hide weakness. Look normal. Act healthy. No matter what.

This is your cat’s code of survival. They don’t have to think about it. They do it automatically.

You look at your cat’s claw and see something that looks weird. You look closer. Wait . . . what? Why is the claw so fat? It’s growing into the paw pad! Oh no! Oh wow! You quickly check the other claws, heart beating. You love your cat. Your cat looked normal, nothing unusual about her behavior, and now this?! You wonder, “Is my cat in pain? This is awful.”

What now?

1. If you usually trim your cat’s claws, you can try to cut the part of the claw that is exposed. You need good lighting. If the claw is deeply embedded, there may be blood.  To prevent infection, keep the claw as clean as possible. Ask your veterinarian how to care for the paw.

OR . . .

2. You can take your cat to your veterinarian.

OR . . .

3. I can trim the claw, BUT if the claw was embedded, you MUST take your cat to the veterinarian or talk to your veterinarian ASAP.  I am a groomer, not a doctor. I can only care for the outside of a cat, not the inside. I am not trained to prevent or treat possible infections. Graduating from grooming school is NOT the equivalent of earning a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, right?

What next?

1. Trim your cat’s claws at least every 4-6 weeks. If you can’t do it, we will set up a schedule. It only takes 15 minutes for a claw trimming visit, as long as the cat is relaxed. For a nervous/angry/wiggly cat, the claw trimming is the easy part. Picking up and restraining the cat is the hard part. Cats that bite or scratch may be calmer at a veterinary clinic.  Some cats “freeze” in a clinic, while they try to figure out what to do next. Or not. With cats you never know. It’s worth a try if house call claw trims don’t work out.

Good luck. Ingrown claws can be found on cats owned by even the most loving people. Don’t worry about it. Don’t feel guilty. Just fix it, fast.

The claw trimmer I use is small, but you can use a bigger one or a human nail clipper if that is easier for you.

To buy:  Four Paws Magic Coat Cat Claw Clipper

If your cat doesn’t use a scratching post, the sheath covering the claw might stay on instead of being sloughed off.

The stylish cat scratcher lounge. I own one. So do six of my clients.

PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge (Walnut Brown)

Well-groomed cats stay cool in summer. Shaving not necessary.

There are reasons to shave a cat, but temperature is not one of them. Best way to keep your cat cool? Frequent brushing, water, shade.

From MPC of Texas (Mobile Pet Care Clinics)

Unlike humans, the skin of dogs and cats does not contain the vast network of blood vessels and sweat glands designed to dissipate body heat during hot weather conditions. True, dogs do possess sweat glands in their footpads, but these glands play a minimal role in overall thermoregulation. Despite being sweat-gland deficient, dogs and cats have an uncanny ability to vaporize large amounts of water from their lungs and airways, water that carries heat from the body when they pant.

Shaving pets for the summer can actually predispose them to sun burn and to heat exhaustion/heat stroke. Long hair and thick undercoats act as insulation against the sun’s rays and their effects. Coats that are kept well-brushed and mat-free allow for good air circulation through the hair, which in itself can actually have a cooling effect. On the contrary, matted, unkempt hair coats stifle air circulation and do little to help cool the body. In other words, daily brushing is a must during the hot, summer months.

Here’s a prime example: My 2 year old Boxer, Titan (who has a short hair coat) and my 8 year old mix, Gobi ( who has long hair with a thick undercoat) love to go jogging with me. Both dogs are extremely fit, yet after 40 minutes in the Texas heat, Titan’s tongue is scraping the pavement, forcing regular water stops, whereas Gobi continues to just trot along like a canine version of Forrest Gump, seemingly oblivious to the heat. Keep pets cool and comfortable during the summer by keeping them well-groomed and by always providing a source of fresh water and shade. But don’t shave them. If you do, you’re only defeating the purpose and you may end up with a very expensive veterinary bill on your hands.”

BUT MOST CATS DON’T NEED TO PANT IN ORDER TO STAY COOL . . .

So how DO they stay cool? According to Dr. Bruce Carstens of Willow Rock Pet Hospital, “Because cats are generally around 10 pounds in size, they are small enough to regulate their temperature by decreasing their activity level and moving to the shade. The surface area of their skin is large enough in relation to their body mass to dissipate most heat build-up. If your cat gets hot or excited, you may see him pant for a short time, but it is not very common.”

 

Confessions of a cat groomer: You get to be the good guy

I get to be the bad guy. You get to be the hero who hands out treats.  File under “reasons cat groomers exist”.

I love this little cat. She USUALLY loves me.

After the claw trim
After the claw trim
Is she gone yet?
Is she gone yet?

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!

 

Is your Persian cat flammable? OMB!!!

Oh My Bastet. (Bastet is the Egyptian cat-headed goddess, of course.) You totally should have known that. You call yourself a cat lady? Sheesh. Go adopt a Dachshund.

Anyhoo, if the fire alarm goes off when you touch your cat’s fur, see below for a magical liquid called Coat Handler Anti-Static Spray. Spritz a little on your cat or dog. The scent is nutmeg-ish or cinnamon-ish or some-other-spice-ish. Smells good!

No more light show when you pet your cat
No more light show when you pet your cat

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.

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