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Pet Grooming for Kitties

What Pet Groomers Need to Know


Pet Grooming for Kitties

Contrary to popular belief, cats do require such pet grooming services as bathing.

Photo courtesy of Mark A Johnson/Getty Images

Many people are under the impression that pet grooming services are not necessary for kitties.

Felines are, indeed, natural born glamour pusses who take a great deal of pride in their appearances. Anyone who's ever owned a cat will tell you that kitties are proud creatures that spend an enormous amount of time cleaning and beautifying themselves.

However, many cats do need professional pet grooming services from time to time, for optimal health and hygiene.

I spoke with Danelle German, president and CEO of the South Carolina-based National Cat Groomers Institute of America about what pet groomers need to know about services for kitties.

Pet Groomers Need Special Training to Service Kitties

First and foremost, German recommends that pet groomers who wish to include services for cats get lots of training via ordering books and DVDs from reputable institutions such as hers and apprenticing with an expert pet groomer who has lots of experience with cats, plus taking workshops and attending seminars whenever possible.

"Cat grooming can be dangerous for those who don't know how to do this," German cautions. "With cat grooming, groomers think if they can do a dog, they can do cats. But there can be disastrous results if they're not experienced with cats."

Why Pet Grooming for Kitties is Growing

Due to the overall dearth of pet groomers who are experienced with cats, German (who also used to breed and show Persian cats) and a handful of other savvy, forward-thinking pet groomers have made a concerted effort to draw attention to the need for kitties to receive proper pet grooming services.

"We spent the past four and a half years trying to bring this need to the forefront to let people know they don't have to live with a cat that's matted, has fleas and poop stuck to their bottom," she said. "People think that cats groom themselves. But cats need help, too."

It's also a wise idea to obtain certification. While this is not a requirement, this lends a pet groomer greater credibility, and confidence.

Pet Grooming Services that Kitties May Need

  • Bathing
  • Flea and tick treatments
  • Lion Cuts, especially for long-haired cats
  • Nail clipping
  • Sanitary cuts
  • Shedding treatments
  • Soft Paws application

German emphasizes that cats need to be bathed, despite their advanced self-grooming skills.
"Every cat needs a bath," she said. "So many groomers send cats home unbathed because a cat won't tolerate it. They do this all the time with cats and it irks me to no end."

My Kitty Grooming Experiences

I can personally attest to the need for pet groomers to acquire kitty skills.

I frequently took my late cat, Daisy, to pet groomers for such services as nail clipping and bathing. In addition to having shedding problems (despite that she was a short-haired cat) and skin issues, she also was so fat (my bad!) that she could not clean her butt.

In addition, at one point she and her adopted sister, Amanda, developed such severe fleas that I had to take them to a groomer for treatment.

Despite that I lived in a sparsely populated, rural area in North Carolina, I was able to locate a forward-thinking pet groomer who also specialized in cat grooming.

But this isn't always the case. In fact:

Pet Groomers often Run from Cats!

My friends in the pet grooming profession will attest to this. German agrees.

"A lot of pet groomers are afraid of cats," she said. "Cats are unpredictable; they can inflict a lot of damage. It also has to do with a lack of training. I ask them why they are confident with dogs and they say it's because they have experience and training. If they gain training and confidence, they can work with cats, too."

A Note about Kitty Nail Trimming

This is one of the many beneficial services a pet groomer can provide for kitties.

As anyone who has frequented this site knows, I am one of the many pet professionals and animal rights advocates who strongly opposes cat declawing, a terribly inhumane practice that is akin to a person getting their fingers chopped off just below the first knuckle.

To see what I mean, check out this public service announcement video from the Paw Project. This California-based animal advocacy organization, which is headed by veterinary and wildlife expert Dr. Jennifer Conrad, was formed to educate the public about the negative effects of declawing cats.

In addition to being extremely painful, this procedure can lead to a host of health and behavioral problems in kitties, such as litter box issues and, according to anti-declawing and Soft Paws advocate Dr. Christianne Schelling DVM, severe problems with the conformation of a kitty's feet.

That's why it's so very important for pet groomers to offer nail services such as clipping and the application of Soft Paws, vinyl caps that are attached to a kitty's claws with adhesive, a much more humane alternative to declawing that deters unwanted scratching of furniture and other objects.

These are also available in a variety of fashion colors, for style-conscious kitties.

"I love Soft Paws," German said. "That's a great add-on service and a great alternative to declawing."

I got these for Murphy, and regularly take him to a pet groomer to have these applied. You can see our review of these here.

Recommended Cat Grooming Supplies

When it comes to cat shampoos, German loves Les Pooch and F&T. As for trimming, she swears by the Wahl Storm and Wahl Bravura clippers, particularly for performing lion cuts.

"I use these for the finishing. This leaves a really nice, smooth, velvety finish on cats, like suede, with no tracks or lines."

German also invented the Catty Shack Vac (patent pending), a drying system that safely removes loose hair.

She further recommends the Air Muzzle by Smart Practice, a pet restraint and calming device that is placed over a cat's head, and resembles a space helmet. It protects both the cat and pet groomer.

Kitties Love to Look Pretty

In addition to the obvious health benefits of cat grooming, kitties also get an ego boost.

"After getting groomed, cats may stand in front of a mirror in a bedroom and stare at themselves for an hour," German said.

When all is said and done, pet grooming can help kitties to be healthier and happier.

"My slogan is, 'I'm trying to save the world one cat at a time,'" German said. "For a long time, cats really got the short end of the stick. A lot of cats are walking around in horrendous condition. I want cat owners to realize that there is an alternative."

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