Because let’s face it- that’s all you care about in the first place!
Allow me to set the stage… You’ve been thinking about having your cat groomed. You’ve seen the videos, maybe you’ve stalked my instagram. You can barely get your cat into a carrier, but that insignificant fact hasn’t hindered you in the slightest. You are seriously considering this thing! Her fur is OUTTA control lately and her nails could use a trim too. They keep getting stuck in the bathroom rug! You really want to book an appointment for her but you are also really scared. “How is she going to act? Is she going to hate me forever?”
Here are the facts, Jack. Straight up but with a little chaser. MOST cats are actually well-behaved during grooming. There are a few caveats but I will get to that. If your cat doesn’t react horribly with your veterinarian then in all likelihood, your cat will be great for the groom. It needs to be done right though. A quiet place that doesn’t reek of other animals helps. Having cages where the cat can take a break can also be beneficial (sorry mobile groomers- I know this one might sting.) Your cat may be frightened the first time. He may freeze up and let me do whatever I need to do(this is the ideal situation). There is a much smaller percentage of cats that have the opposite reaction; they lash out at whoever gets close (me), biting and scratching and screaming as loud as they can. Sometimes drugs (Gabapentin or CBD) helps these cats. Sometimes they don’t. And sometimes drugs aren’t possible (I’m thinking specifically about an elderly woman who worked for weeks to catch her severely matted cat for a groom- I couldn’t very well tell her the cat needed an Rx and to come back the next week-) even though they are indicated.
When you bring your cat to my salon I am going to tell you how your cat really behaved during the grooming process, good or bad, and I believe that the majority of groomers do this as well. There ARE however, groomers who sugarcoat the truth and tell the client that their cat “just loved” its bath or was “perfect” for the groom when they were not. They are worried they will lose the client if they speak the truth- that the cat was scared out of its ever-loving mind and needs to come back on anxiety medication. And this IS a valid fear. Why? Because cats act differently in their homes, with their beloved humans. They don’t really love leaving their quiet little sanctuary, and the majority aren’t crazy about strangers either. The fact that they would be scared and lash out as a result is certainly no surprise to anyone who is an animal professional. Surprisingly, this same fact is sometimes lost on the cat’s owners: “He’s never done anything like that at home” is a favorite response that clients like to throw around after I’ve told them that their cat was frightened and therefore aggressive during grooming. AHEM…WELL NOW.. I bet YOU also don’t try to shave his butt or comb out these matts that have been there for 6 months. While it isn’t fair to tell the owner that the cat was ‘good,’ for the groom when it wasn’t, it also isn’t fair for the owner to react as if the groomer must have done something wrong to make the cat act in such a way. They didn’t. Trust me. Your cat was just scared. It’s their nature. Get it? Got it? Good.
What can you do to stack the odds in your favor that the first groom will be a good one?
- Do your research. Pick a groomer that is either a certified feline groomer or if there isn’t one in your area, a dog groomer who is skilled with cats. Ask if they use a groomer’s loop (they shouldn’t). Ask how many cats they do a week. They should do at the very least 2- 3 cats a week. If they don’t, keep looking.
- Ask your vet for an Rx of Gabapentin. It’s a very benign drug that is safe for most cats-even the elderly. If you aren’t sure how your cat will react then err on the safe side and just go ahead and give it (Especially if your cat hates the vet/hates car rides/ hates loud noises)!
- Bring your cat in a carrier and KEEP it in the carrier. Let the groomer get them out. Everything just goes better this way. Trust me.
- Give the groomer ample time to do their thing. Don’t choose a day when you have a tight schedule.
- Breathe. Relax. Groomers became groomers because they love animals and want to help them feel their best, and maybe if you are a bit nervous a little CBD never hurts for the owner either!