Cats & Dryers: The Dreaded Combination
By Deborah Hansen
Dryers are a tool we use to push out more dead coat and dandruff than we could get out in the bath or with brushing. Drying also allows us to minimize the physical demand on our bodies and decrease our grooming time all while making Fluffy look fluffy.
When a new cat client makes first contact with you, it usually goes something like this:
New Client: Do you groom cats?
Groomer: Absolutely, what is going on with Fluffy?
New Client: Well… um…. (pause) she stopped grooming herself.
Groomer: Fluffy is probably matted. I will go over details when you get here. I will probably have to shave her down. Then I can teach you how to keep Fluffy looking and smelling fabulous.
New Client: What exactly are you going to do?
Groomer: I am going to trim her nails then give her a bath after I shave her down.
New Client: Oh no, you can’t bathe her, cats hate water…
After we get the client to understand and accept Fluffy is going to get a bath, the next step as a business person is focusing on getting that client in the door. That leads us to gloss over the fact that we will dry Fluffy before she goes home. Drying is something we try not to draw attention to because we know most owners believe the noise of a dryer is just as detrimental to Fluffy as a drop of water.
Dryers are a tool we use to push out more dead coat and dandruff than we could get out in the bath or with brushing. Drying also allows us to minimize the physical demand on our bodies and decrease our grooming time all while making Fluffy look fluffy. Drying is a very important factor not only in producing a high quality groom, but is also key for higher tips and repeat business.
When it comes to drying a cat, there are many choices of dryers on the market. Obviously, a salon would use different options than a house call groomer. No matter your grooming environment, the key feature to look for in a dryer is a variable speed knob. Groomers need to be able to slowly introduce the flow of air to the cat. Then the groomer needs full control over the air flow, slowly increasing the speed as the feline becomes confident, and decreasing the flow the moment the cat shows any signs of anxiety or stress.
I recommend groomers begin the drying process with a cage dryer for about 10 minutes. Cage dryers allow the drying process to begin while your hands are free. When choosing a cage dryer, it is important to choose one that recirculates the air without introducing heat to the drying process. It is also important that the feline has a way to get out of the direct flow of air when lying in the cage.
When a cat is in a cage, with the cage dryer attached to the door, it is important to monitor the feline for signs of stress and to verify that the dryer is not blowing hot air onto the cat. After a dryer has been in use for a period of time, the motor warms up. In turn, the air flowing from the recirculating dryer will feel warm or even hot. When the air starts to heat up, turn the dryer off and take it out of use for about an hour. When you turn it back on, the air should feel room temperature once again.
Containment Drying System
After using the cage dryer, nothing dries a cat better or is easier to use than a containment drying system that offers both drying and suction. This piece of equipment surpasses all other dryers in the area of cat drying for multiple reasons.
First is groomer safety. The dead coat that has been loosened from the living coat by using a degreasing product in the bath is now ready to fly off the cat. That dead coat is not only going to make a mess by flying around your work environment, but if you are not wearing a mask, it will also fly all the way down to your lungs. Using a containment drying system will suction that dead coat away from your sinus passages and into a container for disposal.
Another way a containment drying system keeps groomers safe is by confining the feline. If you begin to lose control of Fluffy, pull your arms out of the arm holes. Problem solved. Fluffy can’t go anywhere. If you can continue the groom, great. If you got in over your head and Fluffy was more aggressive than you expected (we have all been there), block the arm holes with a towel and the owner can retrieve Fluffy at pick—up.
I also recommend this type of dryer because it speeds up the drying time, allowing the groomer to get the feline completely dry. The ratio of forced air to suction minimizes humidity far better than most of us can in our drying rooms. After a few minutes, the cat tends to pick a spot in the enclosure and settle in. At that point, you can focus on drying one area of the cat. After that area is dry, you are able to methodically increase the drying area until Fluffy is not only fluffy, but completely dry.
The containment drying system is the ideal piece of equipment for the cat groomer. It contains all the dead coat that is pushed out of the feline during the drying process, prevents the dead coat from entering your body through sinus passages, makes clean up easier and produces a dryer coat in less time.
Free–Standing Variable Speed Dryer
All of us are not fortunate enough to have the space, finances or work environment for a containment drying system. As a house call groomer, I rely on my little 4—horsepower dryer. It has completed over 3,000 feline grooms and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. Besides variable speed, weight is an important factor for house call groomers.
No matter your work environment or budget, the main feature to look for in a feline dryer is variable speed control. Variable speed controls are a built in safety system for the cat groomer. They allow the groomer to increase the speed as the cat is comfortable and decrease the speed at signs of stress or anxiety.
Deborah Hansen, CFMG, CFCG, is the owner of a successful feline exclusive house call business, Kitty’s Purrfect Spa in California. She is the creative talent behind Feline Artistic Creations and founder of “Deborah’s Programs,” a complete rebooking program for cats. Deborah is also the owner and creator of Kitty’s Kopy Kats, a stationary store for cat groomers, and author of multiple articles in Groomer to Groomer magazine, Purrfect Pointers and local publications on the topics of feline grooming, issues that affect felines, and business growth. She teaches, speaks and consults on the topics of all things feline, including grooming, environment, behavior, and creative grooming. Additionally, she teaches business and online presence for groomers.deborahhansen.com