It’s surprisingly simple- despite the sheer number of available products on the market!
How does the saying go? ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat’? While I’d rather not think about the origin of that phrase, we all know what it means. Basically, there’s more than way to go about completing most tasks, and that phrase ironically applies to grooming a cat just as it does skinning one. In this post I’ll tell you what tools we use to professionally groom cats in the salon, and I’ll also give less-costly alternatives that get the job done for those of you at home that don’t want to invest $60 in a comb or $350 for a blow-dryer. Capiche? Let’s get started.
If you know anything about our Instagram page or blog, you are probably sick of hearing us say this but you really wouldn’t believe how many people decide to skip the first step of grooming because they are having difficulty with it. The first tool you need is a simple pair of nail trimmers. ALWAYS TRIM ALL THE NAILS. Yup. All. Of. Them. We don’t DARE to begin a groom in the salon without completing a nail trim, and you shouldn’t either. If you haven’t mastered this step then you really need to re-think the whole grooming idea. Have a friend help hold them (it’s okay to scruff), wrap them in a towel, burrito style, have the hubby or wifey feed them a Love, Nala stick while you cut… whatever it takes! If you can’t complete this step then you should proceed with extreme caution. There’s a reason there aren’t many cat groomers in the world- and razor sharp claws are one of those reasons. I prefer a simple scissor-style nail trimmer like this one for cats. You have superb control with something like this, vs the guillotine style used for dogs. There’s really no reason to skimp here. This kind of trimmer is inexpensive and will last forever- unless you lose them. And I can’t help you with that.
Congratulations! You’ve finished step one- you are feeling a little weak from all the blood-loss, but you’ve had 3 cups of coffee so you’re still determined to make this thing happen. You now basically understand the mindset of a professional cat groomer (highly caffeinated and highly determined) so welcome to the club. If you didn’t complete step one, you didn’t hype yourself enough. Go listen to Eye of the Tiger or some pathetic Katie Perry song and try again tomorrow.
The second tool is by far the most important… the COMB! Comb your cat completely out (there are several choices for combs- I’ll list them below). We like a staggered-tooth comb for most cats, which really gets into that undercoat and pulls out the loose fur. In the salon, we do most of the combing during the blowout process, which really maximizes the amount of fur you are able to remove. For home-grooming, we are just going to go ahead and assume that you won’t be able to blow-dry your cat WHILE combing (am I under-estimating you? I don’t think so). So you will want to do the majority of your combing prior to the bath. This should take at least 10 minutes, maybe longer if you have a Persian or Ragdoll. Pay special attention to the armpits, butt fur, and neck. It’s okay to scruff your cat during the combing process if needed (pro-tip: trim your own nails before scruffing!! We trim our own nails every Monday morning so we don’t hurt the cats when we scruff). When your comb stops pulling out loose fur, and doesn’t catch on any matting, it’s okay to move forward! If you can’t remove some of the matting (too close to the skin or kitty won’t allow it) it’s okay to shave it out.
This is very important… do not bathe your cat until all of the matting is gone, or you’ll have one hot mess on your hands, and you’ll regret that shit. Trust me. Proceed with the clippers and shave those matts out! I’m dead-serious y’all. Do not apply coconut or olive oil (old wife’s tails). Wetting matted fur is a serious no-no. Don’t do it. Ever. You might need another cup of coffee at this point (or a red bull & vodka??). Go ahead- I’ll wait.
Invest in a good pair of clippers- you don’t have to use the ones we use, especially if you aren’t planning on lion cuts, but DO get a good pair of Wahl clippers if you are going to do sanitary trims, belly shaves, or shave out matting. They are superior to everything else around when it comes to cat fur- which is softer and more cottony than dog fur- and thus more difficult to cut through. We have four different types of Wahl clippers at the salon- all different price points, sizes, weights, etc. If you buy from http://wahlanimalcom you can use our discount code Whitney15.
Okay… you’ve got the nail trimmers, the comb (not a brush or for God’s sake), and the clippers if you need them. This might be all that you need- BUT for those who are really BRAVE (take another shot of espresso or whiskey if needed), you’ll need a good quality shampoo for the next step in this whole endeavor… The Bath. For cat groomers, the bath is the most important part of the whole groom. It removes the greasy residue that has built up on the undercoat and allows the comb and the clippers to glide through the fur easier. It also prevents future matting and leaves them shiny and smelling nice.
This is the soap that The Charleston Cat Groomer created with the help of the World Famous Chubbs Bars (okay- we only created the scent, but WOW- what a scent!). Chubbs bars are all natural, organic, vegan, hypo-allergenic, eco-friendly… The list goes on & on! Safe for all cats & dogs over 10 weeks of age. Not for use on open sores or wounds (duh- we had to put that in there for the dummies though). These lather really well, and more importantly they CLEAN really well. If you are going to do home-grooming then you need this. Period.
Okay… you’ve nail-trimmed, combed, shaved, and bathed your furry little goblin (not a euphemism for lady parts), and you’re ready to dry! Short haired cats can usually just be towel-dried then combed again, but long-haired cats really, really need to be blown out. If you don’t… let’s just say you can end up with BIG problems (even more than you had before you started). So it’s actually not a terrible idea to see how your cat would react being next to a blow-dryer (on the lowest setting) before you even begin this whole thing. (I probably should have told you that first, huh?)
So go get yourself one of these handy dandy contraptions…
It’s called a “happy hoodie” and we use them for ear protection on cats we are blow-drying. Go ahead and get your hair-dryer plugged in and turn it on low. Then get your cat (nails trimmed of course)and pull the hoodie over his ears just like the picture, then see if you can get anywhere near the dryer when you have the hoodie on him. If you end up with a cat-shaped hole in your ceiling kind of like a Roadrunner cartoon episode then you might want to abort mission. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but its not looking good for you. Maybe ask your vet for a mild sedative and try again a few weeks later. If you had success then you are ready my friend! Go take a shot of fireball and prepare yourself for battle!
**It’s important to only use the cool setting or low heat for cats and dogs. You don’t want them to over-heat- if it’s too hot pressed next to your hand, then it is too hot for their little bodies!
Of course these aren’t the ONLY tools we use to groom cats… but they are, without a doubt, the MOST IMPORTANT of all the tools we use. If you have an especially greasy cat, flaky cat, cat with chin acne, fractious cat (aggressive), or any other specific type of problem, you may need additional tools. We’ve included these, along with some of our other favorites on our #founditonamazon page for your convenience. If you decide to make use of this blog and try out DIY cat grooming for yourself, let us know in the comments! We would love to hear what worked, and what didn’t!
Shannon & Whitney