By Ellen Ehrlich
Did you know there are between 74 and 96 million pet cats in the United States? Depending on their breed and lifestyle, a percentage of these cats will need professional grooming for a variety of reasons. Many cats do an outstanding job grooming themselves, however, if the cat has emotional or physical issues or is unable or unwilling to self-groom, a skillful and talented pet stylist is crucial to the cat’s general health and well being.
Cats spend about 50% of their day grooming themselves. Kittens learn grooming skills by watching their mother. If Mom is lacking in grooming skills herself, or is uninterested, her babies may lack in the same self-care skills. Kittens begin licking themselves around three or four weeks of age and should be grooming themselves around six weeks. If they are not, their human Mom and Dad might need to step in and assist.
I have always been a huge fan of cat grooming. I saw the need early on in my career. I remember standing in the kitchen with a friend looking at a neighbor’s domestic shorthaired kitty thinking to myself, “That cat is in serious need of a good bath,” as I looked at the kitty’s shedding hair. I envisioned the cat after a brush, bath, and dry in a shiny, clean, sleek coat. Upon suggesting some soap and water and a gentle scrub to Mom I heard a familiar comment, “I did not know cats need to be groomed.”
Yes, they do!
Some cat owners have looked at me, eyebrows raised, with puzzled and skeptical expressions on their faces when I suggest their cats be groomed. On the other hand, many feline owners are open to this concept, agree, and want to learn more.
Aside from all of the health benefits, going through the grooming process in a positive fashion is good training and exposes the cat to handling skills outside of the norm of petting and snuggles. This is beneficial on many levels. Not only is a clean cat more inviting to caress and pet, the cat understands that being touched in unexpected ways such as brushing, drying, and clipping won’t hurt them. Many cats find they enjoy grooming. This can translate into a more cooperative and friendly cat when visiting the veterinarian or when friends, neighbors, or a pet sitter comes calling.
Cat grooming is growing in leaps and bounds in the grooming industry, but there are still not enough cat groomers to go around. The good news is there are more pet stylists, shop, home, house call, and mobile becoming “cat only groomers” everyday. I think it is very fair that cats have pet stylists totally devoted to them, just like those who only groom dogs.
Jan Lewis-Condo has just opened Grooming Angel Pet Salon, a cats-only grooming shop, due to the overwhelming demand for feline grooming that has grown steadily over the past eight years. She used to dedicate every Sunday exclusively to grooming cats, but it wasn’t enough to fill the need. People would have to wait months to get an appointment, and they did.
Although Jenn Dios is presently grooming dogs and cats, her goal is to make her new mobile grooming business, A Smitten Kitten Mobile Grooming, feline exclusive. She loves seeing kitties in her appointment book. Her specialty is helping cats with issues, such as deshedding or mat removal. Jenn says, “I have a special understanding of cats. I beam with pride and joy, knowing I can be the one to care for them.”
Cat grooming is best done by a stylist who loves, respects, and understands cats. A cat is not a dog by any means. A cat is groomed on its own terms; like it or not! Many cat only groomers are “cat people,” and have been that way since they were young. They grew up with cats and had many kitties as pets. Many cat groomers do not groom dogs, nor do they want to. That’s fine with me! I am proud to share the grooming industry with cat groomers because we share the same goal: to keep pets happy and healthy.
Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be. For more information go to: www.gomobileandsucceed.com.