Busy people and pets in 2016

People are BUSY!  Even people who don’t look like they should be busy are BUSY!  Old, young, rich, poor, busy, busy, busy!

Cat owners are undergoing a shift in attitude. They’re viewing cats as friends and family.  This creates a dilemma. Working long days doesn’t leave enough time to keep their cat mat-free and de-shedded, yet owners want their cat to be comfortable and attractive.

It’s hard to give up the fantasy that there is time for everything.  In reality, there isn’t time to do it all. We make decisions about what is worth doing ourselves and what we should pay someone else to do.

When I visit a home where a matted cat lives, the owner is usually a loving person who kept hoping and hoping they would find the time to brush their cat.  Then one day they noticed that their cat was lumpy and bumpy with clots of matted fur.

It’s okay to hire a professional. You don’t have to feel guilty. You are not a bad cat-parent.  Your job is to bring home the kibble and to ARRANGE for pet care.  Whether you do the grooming or someone else does it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that your friend, that little animal who shares your home, gets taken care of.

Happy 2016!





Can you groom my cat? She bites.

I groom all sorts of cats.  A lot of cats will eventually get annoyed. They might swat at me or give me the “the look”.  Cats don’t want to be messed with for very long, even if you’re doing it with love and good intentions.  When the groom is over, they forget all about it. I rub them on their cheeks. They run off to play or to eat a treat.

Then there are the biters. A few cats try to bite me within seconds. I mean, they don’t even give me a chance to run my comb through their fur more than once. They are seriously ticked off and they mean to do something about it! They hiss. They swat. They try to leap off the counter. They’re not kidding around. If they were lions, I’d be lunch.

I can groom the cats who eventually get annoyed. I can sometimes groom the cats who bite. I can’t ALWAYS groom the cats who bite. If they’re matted, we’re talking about using a clipper or ball-tip scissors on an angry animal who is determined to break free.  Does that sound safe to you? I wear protective gear. I’m not worried about myself. Mainly I don’t want to hurt your cat.  I love cats.

So if your cat is the type who has no patience with grooming AND your cat is matted, I’d be happy to try but no guarantees.  They might need to be sedated at a veterinary clinic. I appreciate your offer to give your cat a “happy pill”. The only problem with that is the frequent situations where the owner can’t get their cat to eat the pill, or they’re not sure their cat ate the pill but tell me the cat ate the pill.  How could that possibly go wrong? A cat groomer who thinks she is grooming a sedated cat but is really grooming an angry fully-aware cat?

I’m good with animals. I’ve spent enough time with them to have a way of working with cats, but I’m not a “whisperer.” Let me tell you my idea. My idea is that even “whisperers” aren’t whisperers. They’re people who are good with pets AND they get the benefit of professional video editors.

You know that phrase, “Just say no to drugs”?  With cats, on rare occasions where they are 100% against being groomed but need grooming, I think it’s a sensible idea to just say yes to drugs.


Merry Christmas!


A Visit from St. Nicholas
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Pets & income. A sensitive subject.

“More than 1 Million Households Forced to Give up Pet Each Year, ASPCA Research Reveals”

From Pet Age magazine.

The study also uncovered a stark difference in responses between those with a household income below $50,000 and those with a household income above $50,000.  Those with income below $50,000 were significantly more likely to re-home due to cost and housing issues as opposed to pet-related issues.



What multiculturalism means to cats

I don’t have an answer. It’s just something I wonder about.

In the past, recent arrivals to the United States were expected to make a sincere effort learn English, and to change their habits and beliefs to match those of the part of the United States where they now lived.  This is no longer the generally accepted expectation.  It seems that many people prefer to adhere to the the language and customs they grew up with. They demand to have their language and customs tolerated, at the very least, if not actively supported by government-mandated inclusiveness programs.

As the daughter of someone who moved to the United States from another country, I know firsthand about the tension between “fitting in” and keeping alive the precious memories and habits of another country.

Since my profession is cat grooming, I am interested to see how cultural inclusiveness plays out in the world of animal care.  The reality is that depending on one’s country, the “correct” place of a cat (or a dog) can range from being a treasured family member to being street trash or even a symbol of evil. What happens when you have neighbors who expect their views to be respected, but one neighbor treasures cats as if they were children, another views them purely as useful mouse-catchers, and yet another views them as pests to be kept away by whatever means works?

We already see this disagreement come up among long-term U.S. residents.  “Your cat kills birds.”  “Your cat wrecks my garden.”

My guess is that the animal welfare and animal rights groups are going to be kept busy navigating this cultural minefield.  When you have a kind of homeland mentality, where your country of birth is a big part of your identity, how willing are you going to be to follow animal-care laws or customs in your new home? Will following the laws seem like being forced to give up your personality? These are interesting times!


Dealing with hairballs

Useful product suggestions in this article. See below. I use some of these products.


Not Having a Ball
Dec 01,2015
by: Sandy Robins

Hairballs are an unwanted bonus of cat ownership. Cats shed and ingest hair as part of their self-grooming routines. Fortunately, there are lots of different weapons of attack to fight the shedding hair wars that collectively will benefit retail store coffers.

Prevention Through Grooming

Hair is essentially indigestible to cats and can build up in the gut, eventually resulting in that rather unpleasant hairball surprise on the living room carpet,” said Dr. Adelia Ritchie, CEO and founder of DERMagic Skin Care for Animals, Inc.

“To prevent or reduce the occurrence of these events—in addition to daily brushing—bathing cats can help to remove loose hairs and dander that would otherwise contribute to hairball formation,” Ritchie said. “Because cats can be sensitive to chemicals and perfumes, and even some essential oils, I created a special organic shampoo bar that is safe on all cats and kittens too.”

The DERMagic Rosemary Shampoo Bar for Felines is an all-purpose gentle deep fur cleanser with anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

“Our special feline formula also helps reduce flakiness and regenerate healthy soft skin and fur. Using a shampoo bar allows the cat owner to hold the cat with one hand, while creating a thick, rich, easily-rinsed lather with the other. This helps make bathing a cat an easy, relaxing experience,” she said.

According to Rikki Mor, founder and owner of Groom Genie, “Plenty of people mistakenly believe that because cats are such terrific self-groomers, they don’t need additional grooming by their humans. But grooming a cat is extremely helpful in removing excess hair, distributing oils, stimulating the skin and more. Of course, the first challenge with cat grooming is making sure the cat will let you groom him!”

“We have had excellent customer feedback that often the Groom Genie is the only brush their cats will tolerate and even enjoy,” Mor said. “Our secret is in the different lengths of bristles, which detangle and remove the hair without pulling. Cats seem to like the feel of the bristles on their skin too. Plus, the handle-less shape of the brush enables a grooming session that’s more like petting.”

There are two sizes with the Teeny Groom Genie, which are 2.75-inch by 4-inch in size, designed specifically for cats.

The Andis Company has a comprehensive line of professional grooming tools for home use as part of its Premium Pet Tools line. The 7.5 steel comb has wide and narrow teeth for working different areas of the coat. It helps remove tangles, mats, loose hair and dirt.

The Premium soft-tooth slicker brush has bent wire bristles that remove undercoat and prevent matting. It stimulates hair follicles to promote growth and healthier hair. The range also includes a large pin brush, a two-sided brush and a large firm slicker brush for cat owners to add to their toolbox. The Andis grooming team cautions about the use of de-shedding tools. because if not used properly, they can damage a cat’s very delicate skin.

There is also a variety of self-grooming accessories for cats such as Omega Paw’s Arch Groomer, a free-standing, hands-free grooming arch that is covered with rubber nibs inside and out for cats to rub up against to remove loose hair.

The Catit Design Senses Massage Center, which is part of the Catit line of interactive cat products from Rolf C. Hagen, Inc., is a self-grooming rubber massage unit that appeals to a cat’s sense of touch by offering a variety of textures that provide a luxurious pampering experience. The ripple massager provides intense rubbing pleasure to a feline’s head, neck and face, and the body stroke groomers on the product offer easy-access and an intense massage, removing loose hair in the process. It comes with a sachet of catnip to attract feline attention to the unit.

Foods, Treats and Remedies

Perrigo Animal Health have two products in its anti-hairball arsenal that specifically target hairball control, namely its Sentry Hairball Relief Gel in a malt flavor which comes in a 4.4 ounce tube and its Sentry Hairball Chewables in a chicken flavor which comes in a 2.5 ounce pouch.

Sentry Hairball Relief gel helps relieve the constipation, dry cough and vomiting associated with hairballs. This product uses the company’s proprietary Petromalt technology and acts as an intestinal lubricant that helps prevent the formation of hairballs and eases the passage of hair that is ingested. It is safe and effective for cats and kittens over four weeks of age.

Sentry Hairball Chewables are also an effective intestinal lubricant that helps combat vomiting associated with hairballs. The company advises that cat owners feed one or two pieces daily as a treat reward after brushing their cat’s coat. The treat formula contains no added salt or artificial colors.

According to Chanda D. Leary-Coutu, senior manager, marketing communications for Wellness Natural Pet Food, the company recently released a new cat food formula to combat hairballs.

“Our new Wellness Natural Hairball Control recipe is made with a precise blend of fiber that helps move hair and already-formed hairballs through the cats’ digestive track,” Leary-Coutu said. “The natural recipe includes wholesome, savory protein sources cats love like deboned chicken and turkey, and also includes vitamins and minerals to support skin and coat health, resulting in fewer stray hairs being ingested.”

“Similarly, our new grain-free Wellness TruFood CocoChia Bakes are treats with salmon, coconut oil that contain a healthy dose of coconut oil and chia seeds, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics. These tasty treats are great for a cat’s skin and coat while helping promote digestive health,” she said.

These morsels are a colorful slow-baked snack. They contain antioxidant-rich ingredients like beets and spinach formulated to keep cats happy and healthy—and hopefully hairball free.


My credentials as a cat groomer

Cat grooming is a specialty. Many groomers are afraid to groom cats. Others think that cat grooming consists only of shaving matted cats, when in fact cat grooming can include claw trims, de-shedding, de-matting, combing and sanitary fur trims.  As a cat owner as well as a groomer, I suggest asking prospective groomers why they began to groom cats. Ask groomers about their training and experience.  Cats are not the same as dogs. Their skin, anatomy and behavior differ markedly from canines.

Experience and education

Graduated from grooming school.
House call veterinary nurse administering medications and fluids to diabetic cats and others.
Managed progressive animal shelter.
Emergency animal rescue supervisor in Chapel Hill, NC.
Internship with “big cats” and other animals at The Bronx Zoo.
Post-baccalaureate science honors program at CUNY.
Hundreds of hours of volunteer service at animal shelters.
Lived with cats for 18 years.  Currently live with a senior cat.

Behind the scenes: Cat Groomer

Professional groomers are different. For one thing, we’re even crazier about pets than the average American, and that’s saying something! For another thing, we shop differently.

Like construction contractors, we shop at distributors, not retail stores. I buy my shampoo, trimmers and other supplies from companies catering to groomers. Sure, I might run to Petco if I forget to bring my claw trimmer to a house call, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

One of the many reasons I love this country is that inventors and manufacturers let their imaginations run wild. What fun!  Talk about abundance!  I can choose between about 100 types of shampoo, 20 types of clippers, 50 types of combs and brushes, and so on.

Some might wonder if all this choice is necessary. No, it’s not. I could use the same tools used in the 1960’s, but why should I?  A 1960’s clipper/shaver will work, but the newer ones are quieter and vibrate less, which makes grooming a more relaxing experience for cats.

Today’s professional groomers get to pick from a world of grooming delights.  Amazing!