The number of tools and gadgets on the market for groomers can be overwhelming. One of the best parts about cat grooming is the amount of tools you actually need.
When you begin cat grooming, the initial investment in tools and equipment is minimal compared to the investment you would need to make in other areas. Over the years, I have made purchases of items that were marketed just for cat grooming only to return to the basics that I began with.
Clippers are fun and exciting to test at trade shows. With so many on the market, it is hard to know where to start. My preference is a cordless clipper with a 5–in–1 blade. While they may not be as fast or have the cutting power as some corded clippers, the convenience of the 5–in–1 blade and the fact that they are easier on my hands and wrists make them my first choice. I also prefer them because they are set in plastic which keeps them from heating up like traditional blades, and because of the time–saving feature of changing blade lengths.
We all know cats can be squirmy. There is nothing more frustrating than having a cat positioned to get an arm pit mat off and realizing the blade you are using won’t get under the mat. If you have a 5–in–1 blade on your clippers, it is a quick slide of the switch and you are able to get the mat off without repositioning the cat.
Having a large supply of sharp blades on hand is probably my biggest expense. I do use multiple blades for each cat and disinfect each blade after one use. Sending the blades back to the manufacturer for sharpening is the best deal to keep your blades performing at their optimum. I also send my clippers in for an annual tune–up.
A variable speed dryer is a must for cats. When you begin drying a cat, you always want to start on low and then slowly build up your speed. Turning a dryer on full speed can easily startle a cat which can cause you to lose control. Oftentimes a cat will urinate when the dryer starts. A dryer on low speed can make the difference between a “butt bath” and a full re–bathe.
A bar shampoo really is ideal for cats. It gives you another barrier between your hand and the cat’s teeth during the bath. It does take some practice to use them successfully. As a house–call groomer, I see all water types and sources in a day and am able to have success with hard water, well water or city water. If you are struggling to use a bar shampoo, try reaching out to the manufacturer for help. In my business, faces and ears are done after the bath with a cotton ball, feline ear cleaner and saline for faces.
My small tool basics include a medium ergonomic handle comb, face and feet comb, small scissor–type nail trimer and corn starch. I do not use any brushes. Corn starch is important to have on–hand to stop bleeding if the quick is cut during a nail trim or to help dry up chin acne.
You are probably wondering about scissors. I do not use scissors in my feline grooming business. In my opinion, the quick, random movements of cats are known for making the risks of using scissors too high of a liability.
Safety is a big consideration when working with felines. Always remember to wear ear protection when working with dryers and a mask when working with flying coat. When a cat is sassy, I wear Kevlar sleeves. These sleeves allow me to have full movement of my fingers and give me protection from an unexpected bite penetrating my skin.
A round, hard–sided helmet–type muzzle allows the cat to retain full biting motion while I am able to monitor breathing and pupils to assess the feline’s stress level. It also allows me to easily remain out of sight from the feline which usually decreases the aggression level of the cat, or at least keeps the cat from an accurate strike with their claws. There is a learning curve with the hard–sided muzzles. It is best to practice on your hand or a calm cat, making sure your fingers remain out of the bite zone and that you are getting the Velcro as tight as possible.
Suction Clipper & Deshed System
After I started making a profit, I added a suction clipper and deshed system. That included an additional pair of cordless clippers, an attachment to connect the clippers to the suction system and comb attachments for my 5–in–1 blades. If you are struggling to get a smooth comb cut on a cat, this will greatly improve your final product. I also purchased a deshed tool. My deshed add–on service has paid for the system. It is my most popular add–on. Since I am house–call, I run my system off of a small shop vac.
My dream piece of equipment is a suction drying system. But, as a house–call groomer, the size and weight make it impractical. However, it would be my first purchase if I went to a salon or mobile model of grooming. There are many benefits to this piece of equipment. Most importantly, it contains the dead coat that is pushed off the cat during the drying process. So instead of having it flying around your work area where it can be inhaled and then needs to be cleaned up, it is sucked into a canister for easy disposal. It also keeps the cat in a contained area so you do not need to keep your hands on the cat during drying.
While there are many grooming products marketed specifically for cat groomers, simple is always best when it comes to cat grooming. Remember, cats have very short attention spans and you don’t want extra things to manipulate when you have a cat in the position you need them for grooming.✂️