By Kim Raisanen
Most groomers have horror stories about the one dog that was as nasty as a wolverine and have the scars to prove it, but what about the other 99 dogs that we rarely talk about? It’s true; people are more apt to talk about the vicious dog without mentioning anything about the other 99 that were cooperative and down right easy to groom. The same holds true in cat grooming. You’ve heard the stories of how a cat bit someone and the bite infected so quickly they needed medical attention. Don’t get me wrong, there will be that one cat that will leave his mark, literally, but the majority of cats are willing participants in the grooming process. Cats meow and dogs bark. Dogs and cats bite. There are some similarities, but not many between canines and felines. Animals are our passion and we have chosen a career that has some risks in it.
Let’s face it, groomers are one of the most honest, hardest working segments of the pet industry, spending hours away from home trying to make a living by working with animals because they’re our passion. Just go on social media and there are groups that talk about their daily grooming duties and how tired they are. We may not have the swanky offices of the corporate world but what we do have over them is the ability to tweak what is ours. Our own salons, mobile vans and house call businesses. Remember the saying, work smarter, not harder. It’s simple to remember but difficult to put into practice, unless we are willing to make the necessary changes.
When it comes to cat grooming, there is less mess, noise, overhead, towels, equipment, shampoo, conditioner, and utilities, less everything except for the bottom line. There is more profit in cat grooming than there is in dog. You heard me right. I normally don’t like to write about grooming cats and profits because I’m leery that one groomer will try to rush through as many cats as they can in a day to make a lot of money. That’s not what I’m trying to convey. But if you love doing something, the money will follow. So, for the other 99 groomers willing to tweak their businesses responsibly to include cat grooming it is worth the risk of writing this article.
The secret lays in the approach of the groomer. Hands down, the way the cat is introduced to the surroundings of your shop will set the tone for most of the groom. Before you schedule your next cat appointment, take a minute and look at your salon through the eyes of a cat. This really works. Picture the scene in your mind, from the moment the owner brings the cat in until the owner picks him up, everything that is going on in your shop will be processed by the cat. Is the pace fast and furious? Are dogs barking, phones ringing, dryers blowing and groomers yelling to each other over the noise? If so, the cat is not going to be a happy participant.
We can comprise our businesses so that our stress levels are lower, by tweaking what we know doesn’t work. Noise, fast movements, barking dogs— in other words, chaos—will not make a perfect grooming environment for cats. Cats enjoy coming into a spa, not a dog grooming shop. There I said it. However, a cat can be made to think he is at a spa if the environment is set up to accommodate him.
This is where the tweaking comes in. Can there be an area used exclusively for cat grooming and carrier holding? It doesn’t have to be large. Actually, cats like small places, so maybe an unused junk room can be turned into a kitty haven. Another option would be to use a dedicated corner that can be closed off with a shower curtain on a curved shower bar. If a corner is an option, you will automatically have two walls, attach the shower rod to both walls leaving enough room for a grooming table and chair. Imagine a triangle, the two walls and the curtain. It can be that simple.
If there is an option to bathe the cat away from the dogs, take it. Could you install a utility tub in the restroom? At the very least, wash the smell of dog from the tubs if you have no alternative but to use the same one. You can also use a bucket in the tub to wash the cat. These prove to be beneficial by giving the cat something to hold on to – the edge of the bucket.
If you love cats and are pondering the idea of building your cat clientele, but you don’t know if you have what it takes to be good at it, I suggest you start out slowly and build your clientele with your confidence little by little. You can start your business by offering Puff and Fluffs, in cat language that means a complete combing, bathing, drying and brushing.
There is a huge need for professional cat groomers and the industry as a whole has taken notice of this. More cat grooming seminars are available now at tradeshows, one-on-one cat grooming instructors, cat grooming workshops across the country, as well as professional associations that offer benefits along with education. There are also numerous books and videos available to help you get started. When you feel you would like to learn or improve your clipping skills there are various resources available to help you along the way. The sky is the limit for this niche market, but if I forecast this correctly, cat grooming will not only remain in the limelight, it will continue to expand in the next 5 years.