Intergroom Fun for Cat Groomers

I took the #320 bus to Secaucus last Friday. Why? Because of Intergroom, a trade show and educational event for pet groomers.  I ogled grooming implements, especially the luxurious made-in-Japan gold Utsumi combs which are so beautiful.

Then I attended a useful seminar, “Handling Techniques for Cat Grooming.”  The fun part of going to grooming seminars is watching adorable cats being used as “models”.

Continuing education makes for a better groomer.

 

 

Why senior cats need special handling

“A retrospective study revealed that 22 percent of cats over 1 year old and 90 percent of cats over 12 years old had radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease.”

This is why I use plenty of towels when I groom a senior cat.  They rest on soft surfaces. If they’re not heavy, I even support their body while bathing them. The little things count.

 

“My cat doesn’t let me brush her.”

I work as a house call cat groomer. My estimate is that once a month, clients tell me that their cats won’t accept being brushed, especially in the rear area and belly.

How do groomers manage to brush such cats?

Factors involved in success.

Tools

Handling the cat

Patience & detachment

Environment during grooming

 

I will now discuss tools.

 

Tools

Purchase tools such as brushes and combs. Try each one out.  Do this until you find the tool that works best for you and your cat. There are many choices.

Tools cost money. Hiring a groomer costs money.  Spending on tools may reduce spending on professional groomers.

Where can you find tools?

Search online for cat grooming tools. You will find a large number of tools. Go to online cat forums and grooming forums for specific assistance with your questions about each tool. Be sure to use the tool in the ways endorsed by professional groomers, professional breeders or the tool’s website.

Blow drying cats not same as cage drying

Maybe you’ve seen articles about tragic deaths of pets overheating during drying.

Fact check for concerned owners (pet-parents).

House call groomers don’t use cage dryers.

Cage dryers were used in horrible stories where dogs died from overheating.

Cage dryers are attached to the cage.

House call groomers don’t use cages.

Fact: There will never ever be a death from dryer overheating during a house call grooming.

(Why? Because the cat is out in the open, not in a metal cage where heat builds up.)

*To be fair, cage dryers are not the problem. They’re just a tool. They are usually used safely. It takes an overworked or under-trained human to make them deadly.

 

I am a cat wrapper. No, not a cat rapper, a cat wrapper. My special method for handling cats during grooming.

I have tried many different ways to gentle and efficiently groom cats in their homes.  I enjoy experimenting.

I have tried “cat space helmets”, cat “party hats”,  specially-made animal handling gloves and more. I have tried grooming on counters, tubs and floors.  I have tried grooming fast and grooming slowly.

The result of my research is that each cat is different, so my most important tool is paying attention to the cat!

Aside from that, the tool I am very excited about now is towels and blankets. Yes, simply towels and blankets.  Maybe I am returning to my roots, since my mother was born in Japan. The Japanese are skilled at wrapping and used to wrap presents in cloth.  I am a heredity wrapper.

This video inspires me. The talented veterinary technician uses blankets to carry and hold on to a cat who appears to be ready to shred her to pieces.

Unlike other restraining tools, I find the towel and blanket to be the most nurturing.

Hurrah for the lowly towel and blanket!!

 

What if housecall cat grooming costs more than you can afford?

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Even if you can’t hire a housecall cat groomer, you can still help your cat.  There are great Youtube videos demonstrating a wide variety of ways to brush, wash and dry fur, along with many videos on how to trim claws. You can also do a general online search for information.  You’ll find so much!  Look at a bunch of different videos and sites so you can choose which method works best for you.

If you’re afraid to do it all yourself, you can start by trying to do whatever seems least scary.

For example, trimming claws intimidates a lot of owners.  It’s less scary if you don’t have to worry about being bitten or scratched. A snap-on or velcro e-collar can be purchased for about 10 dollars. You put it on your kitty, then relax because the teeth can no longer reach you.

Tip: Good lighting helps more than you can imagine. Light up your house before grooming the cat.

Afraid of being scratched? You can wear a winter coat and gloves. No one will see you since you’re at home:) Feel free to wear layers of clothes!

Wiggly cat? Wrap kitty up in the largest towel you have. A beach towel is the right size. You can even use two towels. Then expose the part of the body you’re working on. Your room-mate or partner might be willing to help.

Trimming out mats? Buy a small ball-tip scissor online or at a pet store. Place a metal comb flat against kitty’s skin, under the mat. Trim the mat off with the scissor. This way you won’t have to worry about cutting the skin.

Tip: Having a quiet, calm atmosphere makes all the difference. Many cats freak out if you groom them in the living room with children playing and video games booming. They might be totally different in the bathroom or kitchen.

Tip: Try using the kitchen sink and counter for grooming, instead of using the tub and bathroom floor.  The kitchen counter is the right height for grooming. The sink is less fear-inducing to the cat than a huge tub. Also, you’re going to have more control over a cat in a sink than you do over a cat in a tub.

Most of all, have fun. Experiment. As long as you don’t hurt or scare the cat — and don’t get hurt — it’s all good!

Enjoy getting to be physical with a living creature. In the city, we spend so much time with computers & words & concrete. Grooming a cat is like a brush with nature.  Who knows. You might become addicted to cat grooming, like me:)

 

 

 

 

Drying a wet cat

If you bathe your cat, you may have noticed that drying can take a long time.  Even a short-haired cat can stay damp for longer than you’d expect.

Groomer’s tip: Dry your cat with a towel using every bit of the towel, brush the fur, dry again with another towel, and repeat until the fur is no longer wet. If your cat lets you blow dry, then blow dry with the setting on low. If the cat is still calm, you can turn up the setting so the air flow is more powerful.  If your dryer gets hot, keep the dryer at least 8 inches from the fur and move the dryer around.  When in doubt, put your hand under the dryer to see how it feels. Cats have a higher body temp than we do, and tend to love heat, so your cat might love that hot dryer. Still, you don’t want to overdo it, because heat can do damage.  From experience I’ll tell you that cats are going to luxuriate in that heat, the hotter the better, but I don’t feel comfortable putting a heated dryer too close to them even if they seem to be craving it.

What if your cat is still damp?  Then it’s up to you to decide if that’s alright.  My feeling is that if a cat is still damp, but they are terrified of the dryer, let them go. Don’t force the full drying. It’s not worth it.

With some types of fur, you do need to fully dry the cat.  Some Persians, for example, will mat up right away unless they are totally dry. Mats can be uncomfortable. So you wind up deciding whether you want a matted cat or a cat who is really upset about being dried. There are ways to deal with this, like putting your cat in a room to let them mostly dry, then just blow drying them for the last bit of wetness in their fur.

Rubbar Ducky?

Can’t pick up your cat? Think like a rabbit.

A lot of owners don’t feel comfortable picking up their cats, so if you’re one of them, you have plenty of company.  It’s not that the cats are mean. It’s that the cats wiggle away while the owner is trying to get them. Sometimes the owner gets scratched because the cat is so wiggly.  There’s no hope you can trim your cat’s claws if you can’t pick them up. Picking a cat up is step #1.

Rabbits are similar to cats in that 1. their rear legs are powerful. Rabbits and cats both use them to kick.  2. they have claws that can scratch. 3. they can get wiggly when you’re trying to pick them up.

I like MediRabbit.com’s website because they provide clear, attractive drawings demonstrating the way to handle rabbits. You can use the same or similar methods to handle cats!

Ways to shave a cat

When I’m not grooming, I spend time on an online groomer forum so I can learn about different techniques and tools.  Some techniques that used to be considered a big no-no are now accepted and encouraged.  Groomers realized that the prejudice against these techniques wasn’t based on anything except habit.

For example, wet shaving used to be a no-no. This is when a groomer washes a pet first, then while the pet is still wet or damp, they shave the pet.  There are a few advantages to wet shaves.

  1.  If the fur is damp, the blade doesn’t heat up, so no risk of “clipper burn”.
  2. Wet fur seems to be more stretchy, so I can sort of nudge the mat away from the skin with my clipper blade, then either shave it off completely or trim it off with scissors. This feels safer for the cat than having to shave a mat that is still tight against the skin.
  3. Less fur around the kitchen.  When I shave a dry cat, the fur gets around.  Wet fur is easier to pick up and put into a garbage bag.

I wet shaved a sweet, beautiful long-haired cat today.  He was such a joy to be around.  It went really well, so I’m glad I know about this technique.

If you like my grooming tips, you might enjoy having me groom your cat. Email catgroomnyc@yahoo.com to learn more.

Why do cats lie next to radiators?

Their body temp is a few degrees higher than ours.  I doubt this is the whole reason, because dogs also have a higher body temp than we do.  Dogs don’t sleep with their bodies up against hot radiators for hours on end. One of my cats used to sleep on top of a very hot steam radiator in an old house. For her that radiator was like a hit of kitty Nyquil.

I ordered a heated cat bed for my 15 year old, Emma.

I was just reading some research from the 1960’s on cat sensitivity to heat. While reading, I realized I’d forgotten that sensitivity will be different depending on body location. Face more sensitive than back, most likely.  One study, a behavioral one, found that paws do have sensitivity to temperature. They could tell the difference between stimuli with as little as 1 degree celsius (1.8 degree fahrenheit).

What’s really cute is that they received pieces of fish as a reward!