How Often Does a Cat Need to Be Groomed?

By Deborah Hansen

Some cats can go a lifetime without a mat, or developing a greasy or dandruff-filled coat. Other cats become matted in a blink of an eye. While environment, nutrition and genetics play a role in grooming frequency, another key element is the cat’s role in life.

Let’s start with what I consider to be “groomed”. Groomed, to me, is a water bath with a high–quality degreasing product followed by hand–drying with a high velocity dryer. That is the best way to remove the problems that cause matting. As extras, I add a nail trim, face cleaning, ear cleaning and shaving, as needed or requested. 

Living environment and a cat’s role in life play big factors in establishing a professional grooming routine. While some cats live in a spotless house and are more like decorative items, other cats are well–loved and active members of the family. Cats that are active family members tend to be picked up and cuddled by little gooey hands. Other cats live a more sedate lifestyle as the apple of their owner’s eye. 

Every cat lives in a unique environment. The spotless house with owners that rarely touch the cat will remain cleaner than the house with multiple children under the age of five. While the spotless house has a cat whose role in life is to add to the atmosphere of the home, the well–lived–in house has a cat whose role is to be an active participant in family life. 

The environment a cat lives in has a direct influence on the non–natural occurring substances and debris found on a feline’s coat. The role the cat plays in the family will dictate the grooming needs and expectations of the owners. 

While I was showing my Persian, it was necessary to do a full groom (water bath with full drying) every few days. With the kitten coat coming out and the adult coat growing in, it was my only option. While this may be true for six–to eighteen–month–old show Persians, most of our clients are domestic long or short hair pet cats. Therefore, their needs are very different.

In my grooming business, I first like to discover the objective of the owner. Asking owners why they are seeking grooming helps to get at the root of the problem they are hiring you to solve. Once the problem is understood by you, the groomer, you can successfully make recommendations to solve the owner’s problems.

Many clients seek grooming because one or more of the human family members is allergic to the cat. If this is the case, a water bath gets the allergen causing proteins (Fel d 1 to 4 and IgA) off the coat and tends to decrease the symptoms the owners experience. 

For these clients, I schedule the second bath in four weeks. At the second appointment, I follow up with the owner to see if the symptoms improved after the last bath. I am very careful with my wording, not to imply I can treat their medical condition. Owners usually volunteer that they feel much better or felt better for a period after the grooming took place. 

With the owner’s input, I can suggest scheduling the cat’s next appointment at two, four or six weeks. At the next appointment, I check in again and see how they are feeling. If they are not complaining of symptoms, I move them out two weeks. If they are complaining, I move the next appointment up. 

In my business, I have discovered cats that are groomed due to human allergies do best on a four–to six–week schedule. At each appointment, the cat will get a full water bath and a blow dry. 

Another common problem owners seek help for is shedding and/or hairballs. Here again, I book the second appointment at four weeks and follow up with the owner. If things are good, I move them out to six weeks, then eight weeks. In my business, these clients also seem to be happiest on four–to six–week schedules where the cat gets a water bath with a blow dry.

Long hair cats with owners who prefer that someone else does the brushing are another group of common clients. Most of these clients own Persians, Himalayans or Long Hair Scottish Folds. The owners paid a lot of money for their cats and they want them to look picture perfect at all times. These owners will not actively participate in the routine maintenance of their cats. I have found these cats to do best on five–week bath and blow dry schedules with a professional brush out at week three.

The last group of clients I am going to cover is the owners who bring in a pelted cat and do not want their cat shaved. At the first visit, a lion cut is the only humane option. This type of cat gets a lion cut and water bath with blow dry at the first visit, then they come back at eight weeks for a no–charge consultation and a free nail trim and brush out. If they keep the eight–week, free appointment, the coat is almost always greasy with visible dandruff. Once again, I explain how mats form, and remind the owner that, without a water bath with a high–quality degreasing product and blow dry, the cat will mat. 

These cats I start on an eight–to twelve–week bath schedule and, over time, usually get them down to a six–week bath schedule. This is the hardest type of client to get and keep, while it is the type of cat who needs you the most. By offering free or low–cost consultations and nail trims, you are usually able to groom these cats more often than once a year.

Everyone has a different ideal clientele. It is important to focus on your ideal client and fine–tune your approach to get the type of cats you desire to serve on the schedule that works best for you and your clients. Always keep in mind that environment, nutrition, genetics and the role the cat plays in the family’s daily life all factor in to establish the ideal grooming schedule to meet the needs of each individual cat. ✂️

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