How Many People Does It Take to Bathe a Cat?

Kitty's Korner

By Deborah Hansen

As professional cat groomers, the number of people it takes to get the job done is no joking matter. Some successful cat groomers will tell you to do it alone, others will tell you to have an assistant, yet others will tell you to ask the owner for help.

With so much information and opinions about how many people it takes to groom a cat, what is the answer?

I am going to tell you, it depends on your business model, brand and personal cat grooming beliefs. Like with anything, there are pros and cons to all the options available to you.

Things to Consider

When deciding how many people to schedule to groom your cat clients, there are three main things to consider: skill level, business ambiance or brand, and your relationship with cats. All three things will factor into how many people to schedule for each cat groom.

Each of us needs to take time to reflect and honestly evaluate our skill level. It is important to be able to recognize felines that are more aggressive than your skill level allows you to safely groom. Accurately assessing the feline’s aggression level at check–in will go a long way to prevent starting a groom on a cat you cannot finish with the resources scheduled for that particular groom.

It is also important to know at what aggression level you turn clients away. Just because your skill level is high and you “can” groom a cat, it doesn’t mean it is in the best interest of your business or employer to do so. When we decide to groom a cat at the high end of our skill level, we can end up with unnecessary bites, scratches and bruises. When grooming cats, personal safety is of the utmost importance. Preventing injuries before they happen is in everyone’s best interest.

The second thing to consider when establishing how many people to schedule to groom each cat is your business’ ambiance. How does your business operate? Are cats checked in, whisked off to the back and groomed behind the scenes? Or do you have windows or an open space where the owners and people walking by can observe the grooming process? Does wrestling a cat send the right message for your brand? With cameras everywhere, if someone snaps a picture, would grooming this particular cat build or chip away at your reputation? Grooming a cat at the top of your skill level could place your reputation in danger and, in turn, hurt your bottom line.

Finally, when establishing how many people to schedule for each cat, you need to understand your personal relationship with the cats you groom. Do you see cats as individuals with different requirements that need to be catered to during the grooming process? Or, do you see the grooming process as a one–size–fits–all? Is your business model a check–in, bathe, out–the–door type of business? Or is your business a meet–the–owner, take–time–to–introduce–yourself–to–the–cat and work–at–the–cat’s–pace type of business? The type of relationship you believe in for the grooming process will go a long way to dictate how many people you need to groom each cat client.

Solo cat grooming works great for every business option. The key to solo cat grooming is accurately assessing the cat’s temperament at check–in. Solo cat groomers tend to get into trouble when they over estimate their skills or underestimate the aggression level of the cat. Grooming a cat by yourself allows you to have a deep emotional connection and groom with a holistic approach. On the other hand, solo grooming also allows you to have a no–nonsense, by–the–book style to cat grooming. Solo cat grooming can easily fit into any brand or business model.

Grooming with an assistant works best for more structured businesses. When grooming with an assistant, the groomer and assistant must have clear and concise communication. If the person holding the cat does not have a firm grip, or is not well trained and does not communicate that clearly, the chance of injury increases for the cat, groomer and assistant. Grooming with an assistant can decrease the time spent with each cat and can potentially get the cat out of your care in less time than solo grooming.

Grooming with the owner’s assistance is not something I encourage. As a consumer, if I pay someone for a job, I expect the job to be completed. I may want to watch or chat with them while they are working, but I expect them to do the work I hired them to do. When we ask the owner to help, we diminish our place as an authority in our field. 

If your business model is on the holistic side of the spectrum, when you pull an owner in to hold the cat, you have no control over the emotions or nonverbal signals that the owner is sending to the cat. When the cat senses the owner is distracted, the feline will most likely move suddenly or misbehave when the owner is not fully focused on holding the feline which will increase both the difficulty level for the groomer and the chance of an accident occurring. 

While everyone has an opinion on how many people it takes to groom a cat, in the end, it is your choice. How many people it takes to groom a cat does not need to be a black and white decision. You may decide solo grooming is the best option for the majority of your clients and an assistant is best for a few specific cats. Take a hard look at your brand, personal beliefs regarding your relationships with cats, business goals and skill level, then make the choice that best attracts and serves your ideal client.  ✂️