In Search of the Natural Groomer

by Pamela R. Martin, Castle Paws Silvers


Published June 2009

All cats including the mixed and short coated breeds require some degree of grooming. Grooming is a necessary and important part of your cats' life.  

While cat breeders and exhibitors groom their own cats, the typical pet owner will need professional help.

While the cat owner usually does the basic grooming on their kitty, many eventually seek out a professional groomer, especially if they own a long coated breed.

Finding a “good” cat groomer is not always an easy task. Not all groomers are capable or willing to groom cats.

Finding A Good Cat Groomer

The best way to find a good groomer for your cat is by recommendation. Ask the breeder from whom you got your cat if they can recommend a groomer. Ask friends, family and neighbors who they get to groom their pets. Pet owners will be happy to share their experiences with groomers. Once you have a few options, it is time to do a bit of research about the individual groomers and their establishments.

Background & Experience

It's always been my opinion that the best groomers are people with a background of special interests such as cat rescue, breeding and exhibiting and training that leads them to the natural art of professional pet grooming.  Before grooming schools were so widely established, this is where groomers originated. 

Grooming requires a lot of patience. People with a special and natural ability to work well with cats make the best groomers. Even the most highly trained and artistic groomers are of little use without that natural ability to communicate and train well with the cats.

Most groomers have many more dog clients than cat clients. Grooming and handling a cat is distinctly different than handling a dog - so always look for a groomer who is experienced and comfortable dealing with their feline customers.

The Grooming Shop

Most groomers work by appointment since they can only groom so many pets each day. Before scheduling with a new groomer, ask a few questions over the phone. If possible, visit the shop and bring your cat along, in a carrier for its own safety.   You will get a visual impression of the shops inside and outside appearance and upon return your cat will have received a previous introduction.

Is the shop & reception area clean, noisy or smelly? Keep in mind you are visiting a doggie parlor so there may be a slight doggie smell; however, it shouldn't be overwhelming. Good groomers stay busy and might not have a lot of time to talk but perhaps they have a brochure that will answer most of your questions.  If they don't, you'll need to ask your questions directly.

Another consideration is location. Is the shop located in a busy area with a lot of traffic and streets to cross? Are there stairs to climb?

After the visual assessment, you will want to consider the shop's credentials:

  • How long has the shop been in business?
  • Who will be grooming your cat(s)?  
  • How much experience and training does the groomer have? Especially with grooming cats?
  • Will the same groomer always groom your cat or does the shop have a lot of turn-over? 
  • Are groomers capable of grooming all types of cats , ones with special needs or your specific breed?  
  • Do they specialize in any particular breed?   
  • Are the holding cages in view of groomers at all times? 
  • Is there a specific cat grooming day, time or area?
  • How long the grooming will take?
  • How long does your cat needs to stay?
  • Will they call when the kitty is ready for pick-up?

Sedation

One of the first things pet owners want to know (and it's an excellent question) is will their pet be given any drugs. Pets are only sedated when taken to a vet's office for grooming. Groomers should not administer drugs. In a normal grooming salon environment, the groomer relies on her experience, skills and lots of patience to naturally train and calm your pet during the grooming process. 

Cats unable to tolerate the natural grooming shop procedures will need to be groomed at a vet's office under sedation. 

Products

You will want to know what products will be used on your pets and within the shop environment.  Groomers often treat for fleas and ticks and minor skin issues. 

  • Are the products used safe and approved for cats? 
  • Are they organic or harsh chemicals? 
  • Are the same products consistently used or rotated and are they recorded in case there is an allergic reaction?

A cats' skin is nine times more sensitive than human skin. Even some widely used safe organic products such as citrus, may cause allergic reactions in some cats.  If your cat has any known allergies, your groomer will need to be advised of this.

Dryers

  • Are heated dryers used? 
  • If so, how are they monitored and used?
  • Are they approved pet dryers?
  • Do the dyers have timers, thermostats and safety features? 
  • When heated dryers are used, the confinement cages must be fully ventilated on all sides and within monitoring view of groomers at all times.

A grooming shop can naturally be a noisy place with some dogs barking, cats meowing and dryers running.   Additional activity such as loud radio or TV, people and cats walking around  can easily distract the groomer as well as the cat - increasing the potential for accidents.

Costs

Having the cheapest prices shouldn't be the determining factor for your pets' groomer either. Operating costs will vary from shop to shop, location to location and groomer to groomer. It's not practical to expect to pay apprentice prices for the seasoned groomers' expertise. 

A Final Word ...

Looking for the “cheapest” prices in town or the most convenient location may not be your best option. Your final decision may depend upon the size of your area, but hopefully you have more than one option. If not, it may be in yours and your pet's best interest to travel a bit further afield to find the right groomer for kitty. Once you find the right groomer for you and your pet -- stick with them for life. Grooming will become a natural occurrence  for you, your pet and your groomer once a mutual trust is established.



About The Author:

Pamela R. Martin has owned a grooming & pet supply shop in South Carolina since the mid-80's. 

She has been breeding silvers since 1996 under the Castle Paws cattery name.

She makes all sorts of handmade cat items, such as beds, litterpan covers, cage curtains, dresses, jackets & vests, stud pants, crate covers and catnip pillows. 

Grooming part-time, she now enjoys vending at shows with her hubby.


GC, GP Castle Paws Knight in Shining Armor
CFA's Best Shaded Silver 1999-2000
Shaded Silver Male Persian
DOB:   10-26-98
Sire:  CH Belle Etoile Pierre of Castle Paws
Dam:  CH Crystal Moon Chloe of Castle Paws
Breeder/Owner:  Pamela R. Martin
Photo by Chanan

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