By working in the cat’s natural environment, house-call grooming gives me the longest window possible to successfully complete every groom with the least amount of stress for the kitty.
After opening my feline exclusive house-call grooming business in 2013, I knew house-call grooming was the ideal grooming environment for my business. Over the years, I have considered opening a salon or purchasing a mobile unit; however, I always came back to the same question: What is best for the feline?
My answer has always been, it is best to keep the kitty in their home environment. I believe the majority of cats become stressed when leaving their house. I also believe that the moment the family begins rounding up the cat is also the moment the kitty sets a timer on their patience, and that will cut into my time to successfully complete the groom. By working in the cat’s natural environment, house-call grooming gives me the longest window possible to successfully complete every groom with the least amount of stress for the kitty.
The following addresses some common concerns to help you decide if house-call grooming is right for you:
1 Is the house-call grooming environment right for every cat?
House-call grooming is right for shy and compliant kitties, but it is not right for highly aggressive cats. With the super grumpy felines, we need every advantage possible, and an angry cat knows all the hiding places, as well as how to gain the upper hand in their own home.
2 Having someone watch me makes me nervous.
I get my clients to start talking about themselves once I have started the groom. I normally groom in the smallest bathroom in the home, and while it is awkward at first, my clients sit on the toilet and talk to me while I sit on the floor and groom their kitty. I find this helps to reduce the awkwardness of the situation.
3 House-call gives the client too much control over the work environment.
This is why you must have firm policies in place and not be afraid to enforce them. A client may not touch their cat while I am working. I also carry a thermometer with a humidity sensor to make sure the temperature and humidity levels are safe for me to work. If there are family members in the kitchen while I am bathing their cat, they may not do anything besides watch the bath.
4 How do you make sure you get all the hair cleaned up after drying a cat?
Working in the smallest bathroom gives me the tiniest enclosed area possible. When I clean up, I start vacuuming from the top down; beginning with the light fixtures and the molding above the door, working my way down. I try not to move my vacuum as the exhaust will blow the hair in a different direction. When I reach the floor, I vacuum one tile or row of flooring at a time so I do not skip any. Finally, I vacuum the fan intake.
5 I keep getting calls for highly aggressive cats.
This is very true. Owners cannot get these cats in the carrier, so they call us to help. An easy way to get a sense of the cat’s temperament is to ask if the spouse who did not contact you can hold the cat. The way they respond to this question will tell you a lot about the cat’s temperament.
6 The client told me I cannot use my safety equipment.
This often happens when a cat is aggressive and the client does not want to hear or see their cat throw a tantrum. I explain to the client why I use the equipment (bite-protection sleeves and air muzzles) and demonstrate how it does not hurt their cat. If they are still persistent, I end the appointment and do not reschedule.
7 Do you ever ask a client to help you hold their cat during the groom?
Absolutely not. I see a client holding the cat as a liability in two areas. First, what happens if the client gets bitten while holding the cat I am grooming? I do not want to unnecessarily open my business up for possible legal action. Second, when a client touches their cat, the cat responds—some cats tense up, some act out. This is an added danger that can be prevented. If my skills are not good enough to groom the cat on my own, my personal belief is that I have no business grooming this cat.
8 After you arrive, the client informs you that they need to leave in half an hour.
If the client does not have enough time for me to comfortably finish the groom without rushing, I reschedule. When a cat groom is rushed, mistakes are made. The groomer or the cat can get injured. Even when you are grooming an “easy” cat that you have groomed many times before, that will probably be the one time they urinate on themselves during the groom.
9 The client wants me to groom when they are not home.
My personal policy is not to groom in a home when the owners are not present. If you are grooming alone and the cat has a medical emergency, you will not be able to provide CPR/First Aid while transporting the cat. Without the owner present, you cannot point out any changes you may have noticed in the cat. And, most importantly, grooming alone in an empty house opens your business up to accusations and liability issues. In my opinion, if an owner cannot be present, it is better for them to use a mobile unit or salon for their grooming needs.
10 People are complaining about my prices.
House-call, for any service, is a premium option. Think about the last time you called a service person for your home—locksmith, air-conditioning repair, plumber, carpet cleaner—they all have a minimum service fee. There is no reason why your minimum price should be lower than theirs. The house-call model only allows you to groom one cat at a time which significantly reduces the quantity of cats you can groom during your work week, so your price should reflect the individual attention you are giving to the cat and family. The quality of your work, customer service and clean-up practices are what will get them to rebook.
I truly believe house-call grooming is the best option for most felines and their families. Like with any business, it is important to have firm policies in place that you are committed to enforcing in order to keep you and your kitty clients safe, and make your work enjoyable. ✂️