Why frequent grooming is better for you and your cat.

Many cat owners feel that bringing their cat to the groomer once a year is appropriate and is better for their cat. They feel this way because the get a bad report from the groomer, the cat was stressed, anxious, combative, even downright aggressive. So they space out appointments, thinking that will be less stressful for them and their cat. They love their animals and would never want to harm them. I want these types of clients to know I understand why they do this, and I know it is from a place of love. But now I'm going to tell them why they are doing more harm than good, for themselves and their cats.

Note: I am generalizing, based on the 30- 60 cats per week we groom here, there are always exceptions.
The once a year cat (usually  a long haired type) is the most difficult cat for the groomer. They are often matted  in a portion or all over their bodies, they smell, have feces matted into their genitals, and are starting to act funny at home because the mats are uncomfortable. These cats see the groomer one time every year of their life and generally get a not so great report back from the groomer. They may hop from groomer to groomer because the owner has been shamed or shocked by the price of the grooming. If the groomer is charging the going rate, the bill can be between $80 and $200. The cats came home shaved to the skin, could have scars and bruising from the mats, is a little shocked, and may hide for days. Both cat and owner see little value in grooming because of these reasons.

Here's what may have happened at your cats' once a year groom. He was in an environment he rarely sees; that has sights, sounds, smells he doesn't understand. He was covered in inch thick mats that pulled at the skin constantly. Dandruff is everywhere, as well as clumps of shedding hair. The groomer has to cut those long nails and then start shaving. That buzzing clipper stimulates the senses, causing kitty to begin to be on edge. The clipper slows down as it tries to cut through the mats and the skin must be pulled tight to prevent cuts to the skin. This is uncomfortable for the cat and pulls his skin, despite our best efforts. He begins to get agitated from the sensory overload and pain and lashes out with claws or teeth. The groomer may have to apply safety equipment and hold him in order to keep herself safe. He doesn't like to be held, especially by a stranger, so he acts out more, trying to just get away. If the groomer can finish the cut, they are both stressed by the end. Sounds terrible right? It's ALL preventable.

Here's how we can prevent a bad experience at the groomer. Bring the cat in more often! Minimum 4 times a year, and every 6 to 8 weeks for siberians, ragdolls, persian,maine coons, etc. Cats can be bathed or groomed every week if the groomer is using quality products. 

It all boils down to this. In a cats mind: Unexpected experiences= danger and fear.  Expected experiences= safety and relative calm.

If a cat is used to the environment of the groomer, we reduce stranger danger, stress and agitation. Cats need repetition to become used to things, and they rarely leave their homes, so new environments pose a huge challenge. Visiting the groomer every other month means those sights, smells, and sounds are expected. We all don't like the dentist right? We don't go very often! But most of us like the hairdresser, because we visit every other month since we were tiny children! In our salon, every groom is performed in the exact same order. The cats get used to the repetition and know what comes next. This calms them. Cats like the expected.
Cats that visit more often don't become matted. Mats HURT! A regular professional bath performed 4 to 6 times a year will completely eliminate matting on most cats. That's right, without shaving! Look for our blog about baths for more info. Mats also cost you more in the pocketbook! A shave down with a bath is about $78 in our salon. A once a year shavedown can sometimes be $90 - $150 and the cats are usually too stressed to be bathed! Those dematting fees add up!

As a cat gets groomed more often by a gentle groomer, he finds the clipper isn't a scary monster, but just an annoying thing to put up with. Water is no big deal, it didn't hurt or scare him the time before, so he may as well enjoy the massage and warm water. And that blow dryer is noisy, but he can sit where he wants in the dryer, his ears are covered, and the groomer never puts the air in his face. Combing, even on that belly, is now just a quick flip of the comb through the coat, taking no more than 5 minutes, as the blow drying blew out all the loose hair already. A quick shave on the sanitary area and kitty is back in his carrier with catnip or a treat in under an hour in come cases. This is a relaxed cat who isn't crying or huddling in the back of his cage. He's proud, fluffy, clean and soft. This is typical of the cats that see us regularly. 

Now you may be thinking this is just a sales pitch. But I can tell you that I love cats. And I don't like to put a cat through the once a year groom. (I'll do it, and I won't shame you for it, but I will try to get you to come in more often if I can). I like to see cats relaxed, accepting, and as happy as possible. I love when cats who were wearing muzzles,matted, and anxious come in in 8 weeks time and the next groom goes better, and the next, and the next, and then we don't need the muzzle anymore. I like when grooms are ez and I don't need to use all my tricks to try to calm them, I'd rather they just be calm. Even our most dangerous, aggressive cats can reach a place where they have lower stress. Check out the blog post about Snowpaw for an example. When a cat has reached a level of trust with us, it's very special. We treat all cats with respect and dignity, and it's easier to provide a lower stress groom on a cat who knows whats expected of him and what he can expect from his groomer. 

We want what is best for cats, and you want the best for your cat. I'm so glad you found our salon, and I'm looking forward to building a relationship of trust with you and your cats.
- Jennifer

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