By Deborah Hansen
Who does not LOVE to buy new tools? Especially when you are at a trade show where you can try everything out! As a former elementary educator who learned how to groom cats as a “bucket list” item and turned my cat grooming education into a successful house call business, my tool list is very minimal. Don’t get me wrong, I love gadgets and gizmos. However, when it comes to grooming a cat, education, mindfulness, control of the cat and environment are far more important than any physical tool.
Education is the most important tool I own. While my formal training gave me the skill and techniques to handle difficult cats, just as important is that I have sought out education and training in holistic techniques. Having a well–balanced education from multiple sources is the most valuable tool anyone can have.
Mindfulness is my second most powerful tool when it comes to grooming a feline. If I cannot focus myself and be at peace in the moment with the cat, the danger level of the groom becomes exponentially higher. When I am not 100% focused, that is when accidents happen.
Complete control of the feline is the next most valuable tool I have. Education, mindfulness, experience and being able to read the feline’s body language all lead to maintaining control of the feline during the grooming process.
The next big tool I have is the environment I work in. As a house call groomer, I typically have less control than most groomers. The important elements of environment include a quiet and dim workspace free of random noises. Excessive human emotions and noises are all reasons for a groom to quickly take a turn for the worse.
After you invest time and finances in a firm cat grooming education, are able to focus yourself on the task at hand, are able to predict feline behavior and control your work environment you are ready to move on to the physical tools that will enhance your grooming skills.
What physical tools do I use?
The most important physical items I have for cat grooming are a foam garden kneeling pad to sit on and an N95 rated surgical mask. The foam pad prevents back pain and the mask keeps cat hair out of my sinus passages. Both items I had to learn about the hard way and, to be honest, I was stubborn about using at first. Now I can really see the health benefits in all areas of my life from using these tools. I will add here that my ear muff type hearing protection has also tremendously improved my quality of life.
I use a generic mini scissor style nail clippers and a handled medium comb. For the majority of my work, I use a face and feet comb and stainless combs for comb cuts. I use a smaller clipper and one with a clipper–vacuum attachment. When a cat is being difficult I use an air muzzle and/or bite buster sleeves. A variable speed dryer and a good quality shop vac round out my daily grooming tools.
Something of interest—especially for the dog groomers—I do not carry or use scissors. If you review the breed standards, the only groom that requires any scissoring is the forehead of a Persian or Long Hair Exotic. While I will occasionally perform a face trim on a cat, many owners have come to love their cat’s “wolfy” face and feel that when it is trimmed the cat loses its personality.
I do have two dream tools. If I was not a house call groomer, my first purchase would be cat–specific vacuum dryer followed by cage dryers. I have used both in my teaching, education and while visiting other groomers.
The vacuum dryer is my dream item because it contains all the dead coat that is pushed out of the feline during the drying process. This is beneficial for two reasons. First, it prevents the dead coat from entering my body through my sinus passages. This makes it ideal to maintain my health and quality of life. Second, it makes clean up a snap. An added bonus is that I do not end up covered in hair.
Cage dryers are also on my dream list because the drying process could begin while I am free to spend my time on something else. There is nothing I would love more than to get a cat bone dry without being exposed to all the hair flying around my work environment.
While gizmos and gadgets are fun and exciting, there is nothing better than a firm education in the basics. While the newest thing may make you happy right now, learning how to read a cat will keep you safe. I encourage you to invest in your education, learn how to center yourself, learn how to keep control of the cat you are grooming and master your working environment. And with that you will find enrichment in all areas of your life. ✂
Deborah Hansen CFMG, CFCG is the owner of a very successful feline exclusive, house call grooming business, Kitty’s Purrfect Spa. She is also the founder of “Deborah’s Programs”, a complete rebooking system to get all cats onto a regular grooming schedule, and owner and creator of Kitty’s Kopy Kats, a stationary store for anyone who grooms cats. Deborah is the creative talent behind Feline Artistic Creations and an author in multiple publications with worldwide distribution. She is also a Feline Specialist and Correspondent for the National Association of Professional Creative Groomers. She can be found at deborahhansen.com.