I admit it. 

I regularly “shop” other pet grooming establishments to see;

  • whether they groom cats at all
  • what do they consider “cat grooming” and what services does it include
  • how much they charge for their “services”

Unfortunately, I am regularly appalled at the general level of service our pet grooming industry provides for cats.

Although cats are the most popular pets in Canada (36% of the pet households vs. 33% dogs) they are still treated as second-class pet citizens and expectations are very, very low when it comes professional cat grooming. What people don’t realize is that professional grooming is a training process that acclimatizes a pet to being handled, cleaned and groomed. 

Dogs need to be moulded into willing groomees, and so do cats. In my experience, dogs and cats are the same in their learning curve to the grooming process. It takes the same amount of time to teach the grooming process with intuitive understanding, patience, and good intentions. They differ only in the nature of how you overcome their potential fears, earn their trust to smoothen out the hurdles  as they may arise, and make the whole process enjoyable or at least tolerable.

So what is “grooming” supposed to be? Dictionary definition defines “grooming” as:

  • to look after the coat of an animal by brushing and cleaning it
  • to make clean and maintain the appearance
  • to make something neat and attractive

Notice the word “clean”. There’s a big discrepancy in what pet groomers think a clean cat is. So let’s define”clean”:

  • free from dirt, or unwanted matter, especially by washing
  • free from dirt, stain, or impurities  

So when a pet groomer shaves off the gnarly spots on a cat and drags a comb over it, would you consider it clean and groomed? If the pet groomer tried bathing and gave up trying to dry the cat to completion and returns it half wet and frazzled, would you consider it “groomed”? If you got your cat back with bald patches or uneven trimming, would you be happy with how cute your pet looks?

 You wouldn’t for a moment as a dog owner. You’d demand a refund or go elsewhere.

If you took your dog to the grooming salon you would expect:

  • a clean, appealing, dog-centric professional environment
  • knowledgeable professionals
  • a complete servicing of your furry friend, including  as many baths as it takes to get them thoroughly clean, a complete blow-dry, combing or currying,  nail trim, ear cleaning, and eye cleaning. 
  • depending on your breed, you may want a hair trim according to your preference or lifestyle needs
  • a variety of service options such as mat removal, speciality shampoos, coat conditioners, teeth brushing, de-shedding treatment, etc.

For most cat owners it seems the best professional service that they can hope for is an incomplete effort with minimal incident. For shame. 

Education is the key.

If your cat smells, has dandruff floating on the surface of the hair, throws up hairballs, has mats or tangles, looks like its been dipped in hair wax or feels greasy, has “stuff” stuck to it, your cat is not clean. Why cat saliva is considered a cleaning agent is beyond sound reasoning. A person or dog wouldn’t be considered clean if it was dipped in its own spit.

It is time for cat owners to unite and demand more for their beloved felines. Better education and quality service to keep their cats truly clean, healthy, and a joy to cuddle and live with.