Cats & Dryers
Focusing On Felines
By Kim Raisanen
Some cats shouldn’t be dried by any dryer. But for the ones that we do dry, the quieter the dryer, the better it is for the cat! Cats for the most part don’t mind being dried, they just don’t like the sound and the feeling of the forced air on their face and whiskers.
No matter what technique you decide to use, placing an E–Collar or draping a towel around the cat’s shoulders will deflect some of the sound and airflow. Once you become familiar with the cats that you groom, you will know what dryer they are okay with and which techniques not to use.
I use a towel warmer to heat my towels in order to lessen the chill of coming out of a bath. We want to keep the cats calm and this really helps. I wrap the kitty up in the warmed towel and sit with him on my lap for a couple of minutes. When that towel is saturated I replace it with another warmed towel. You may be surprised just how much water is absorbed. This technique allows the hair to dry at a faster rate, cutting down on drying time. When I have the cat wrapped in the towel, I will gently clean his ears and wash his face with a warm watered face cloth and rinseless cat shampoo.
Did you know that there are breeds of cats that you should only air dry? The Rex breed’s coat resembles a woman’s hair that was just permed. With these cats, you can towel dry them very well and then enhance their curls with a flea comb. If we were to blow dry their coats, their curls would be blown out similar to a freshly groomed poodle. These curls are what sets up their breed uniqueness.
In addition to the Rex’s, towel drying is beneficial for those felines that you don’t think would or could tolerate a dryer at all. Those cats could include scared, physically fragile, seniors (10+), or aggressive in nature.
I personally use a well–known pet industry handheld dryer. It has 5 speeds of velocity and 5 heating levels, cool–shot button and an ION button. This dryer has held up with daily use for 4 years now. If you can find a quiet multi–level dryer for human use, I would use that before I would use a high velocity dryer.
There are flexible groomer arms that can clip on your table and clamp the hand held in place for convenience, acting similar to a stand dryer. I have one of those arms, but I still prefer to have the dryer in my hand. As I dry the cat, I also comb him. Once you get a technique that you like, you’ll get more efficient during the dry time.
The stand dryer can be your best friend in the salon. Its maneuverability, different heat settings and the adjustable directional drying capabilities make this piece of equipment well worth the investment that you would make in purchasing one. Stand dryers are one of the quietest dryers on the market which is a great fit for cats.
High Velocity Dryers
Please don’t make the mistake thinking that you have to blow dry cats with a high velocity dryer. That’s an old wives tale. Sure, there are those cats who are not frightened by the high wind and noise level of the dryer, but for the vast majority of cats, sound and air speed can stress them. Some cats can become so stressed that they may urinate or defecate on your table.
Let’s say you use a high velocity dryer and the cat urinates, now you are back to square one having to re-shampoo the cat. The cat’s stress level is going to be higher because of this and you may become frustrated because of the additional work involved in this groom. Remember, the secret to cat grooming is to keep the environment as calm and quiet as possible. If you absolutely have no choice but having to use a high velocity dryer, I would recommend that you have the air flow set to the lowest level and remove the condenser. You may want to place an E–Collar or a towel on the cat to deflect them from the rush of wind.
To me, cage dryers are more humane than high velocity dryers, but cats do not like wind on their face and whiskers. If you place a wet cat in a cage and turn on the dryer, the cat is more likely to go to the back of cage and curl up in a ball. They really are not being dried in the most efficient way and can become stressed or aggressive. You will probably end up placing the cat on your table and finish drying him there anyways, so you might as well use a hand–held or a stand dryer from the beginning. But on a positive note, there are cats who will tolerate being cage dried and actually walk around the cage as if nothing is going on.
No matter what dryer you decide works best for the cat, remember to have it at a low heat setting. I describe the temperature to be warmer than the room but not as hot as you would dry your own hair. Do some experimenting and see which one is working the best for you and the kitties in your care. When deciding what your preferred method of drying is, keep in mind the noise level, the air temperature and the velocity of the dryer.
As we know, most cats can benefit from a bath, so let’s keep them as calm as possible during the drying process. Take a couple of minutes to allow the cat to adjust to drying by holding and reassuring them. Remember, these kitties have a mind that never forgets or forgives us if we push them past their tolerance level. Take a few minutes and help the cat be as peaceful as possible. Who knows, you may even get a sandpaper kiss at the end. ✂