The Importance of (Cat Grooming) Education - Groomer to Groomer

Grooming Matters

The Importance of (Cat Grooming) Education

Information about grooming cats is a welcome and much–needed addition to the educational opportunities available to pet groomers nationwide. 

“I learned that dogs and cats are both social creatures, but they are not social in the same ways. Cats can enjoy grooming! It’s not just something they need to survive. My cat handling, and as a result, my cat grooming, has become ten times better since I took Dana’s class,” Helen Schaefer shares about Dana Chavez–Rey’s cat grooming seminar that she took online in 2020.

I had an opportunity to ask Dana about her grooming career: “I started my career with animals as an animal care technician for a local shelter.  Since then, I have worked very long and hard to saturate myself with as much veterinary and grooming knowledge as was available to me,” says Dana. 

Dana began her adventures in pet grooming in 1998, and her endeavors have paid off in many ways; one of which she is very proud of is that she was chosen to be an Andis Global Educator.

“I am self–taught, out of necessity. As many know, shelter pets often arrive in dire need of basic grooming,” she shares.

Currently grooming out of a mobile unit, Dana grooms dogs and will include a random guinea pig, tortoise, bird, horse or other pet for special clients. But she has taken a particular interest in grooming cats. 

I asked why she developed a focus on feline grooming; she said, “Due to policy at a veterinary hospital where I was working. I became frustrated seeing too many felines anesthetized unnecessarily who just needed a good grooming. So I took it upon myself to change that.” 

She studied her own cat’s behavior and mannerisms and applied what she observed to all the feline grooming techniques that she could learn. She finds that mobile grooming is incredibly cat friendly: “There is less stress to the feline and far fewer interruptions. It is also great to have a secure and private space where the cat can explore its surrounding safely.” 

Dana shares her hard–won knowledge about safely handling cats with others. “I offer workshops and private lessons. I’d like groomers to know that there is always an alternative to different techniques and encourage them to keep educating themselves,” Dana says.

She also wrote a book, Meow Wow! A Complete Guide to Feline Grooming, which her peers nominated for a 2021 Barkleigh Award. The book begins by introducing some core cat grooming values and introducing a Feline Mission Statement, which is “To ensure humane treatment and improve the quality of life for all felines through service, education, advocacy, and example.” This sets the tone for the book, which focuses on understanding feline behavior, anatomy and physiology so that groomers can incorporate this information to improve their cat grooming practices. 

The famous Dr. Sophia Yin is quoted in the section that addresses holistic methods of handling cats for the grooming process. Dr. Yin is renowned for her revolutionary cat handling skills. And, there is an excellent chapter about feline behavior that includes clear diagrams showing feline body language. This information is vital for novice cat groomers who are just learning how to “read” the cats they are handling. There is also a thorough description of how typically–prescribed sedation affects cats under its influence. It is the best explanation I have ever read of why groomers should discourage using such medications in their grooming clients. 

Plentiful photographs illustrate various clip styles. In addition, the book is filled with helpful tips and techniques that are sure to make grooming easier for the practitioner, but more importantly, safer and more comfortable for the cats. 

With approximately 60 million cats living in households across the United States, there is a real need for kind, skilled and competent cat groomers. Groomers looking to add cat grooming to their skillset would do well to start their continued education with this helpful book. Information about grooming cats is a welcome and much–needed addition to the educational opportunities available to pet groomers nationwide. ✂️

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