the administering of a sedative drug to produce a state of calm or sleep.

Why do some cats need sedation?

It can vary from a highly suspicious and defensive feral nature, previous traumatic experience, intolerance of handling due to fear of being hurt; the list goes on. The bottom line is that the cat is already on high red alert, or in a “postal” state before it even comes out of the pet carrier. It takes hours for this extremely high adrenaline state to come down, and we haven’t even started. At this heighten state, a vet will tell you, sedation doesn’t even work anymore.

The combination of a sharp cutting tool such as a clipper and a crocodile rolling fury of fangs and claws does not mix. It would be foolhardy and irresponsible to believe that there is no risk to either the groomer or cat. I’m sure most clients would be upset if their cat was injured. What about the employee? Would a client be willing to pay for employee days off work for injured tendons or a courses of antibiotics administered by I.V. daily for week? Unlikely. I know several professional groomers who have permanent damage from grooming cats. Employees do have a right to refuse work that they feel will endanger their health and safety.

Cats are very sensitive to environmental toxins and can vary a great deal in their metabolism of chemicals from day to day. In other words, medication doses that may work one time, may not work the next time, or work too well. There is a fine line between a minimally depressed consciousness induced state of sedation vs. a depressed consciousness whereupon the cat is unable to continuously and independently maintain a patent airway, has partial loss of protective reflexes (such as vomiting) and the ability to respond to verbal or physical stimulation. The risks increase with age. Sedated pets can also come out of a sedated state too soon, or become even more defensive because they are aware of their vulnerable state. A groomer is not trained to monitor and identify the state of consciousness of your cat.

The risks of sedation is greatly reduced if a facility is properly able to handle a medical emergencies. This can only be done in, or adjacent to a veterinary clinic, NOT a grooming salon or in the home.  Cats have a very delicate balance of internal systems that make them very prone to sudden medical crashes. For comparison, I’ll point out that Joan Rivers died while under sedation at a private clinic. Had she had her procedure done at a medical hospital, the risk of her tragic death would have been significantly reduced.

I compare groomers to car detailers. We work on the exterior surface. We clean, polish, and bring to your attention any surface damage we may notice. Anything that requires “under the hood” scrutiny, behavioural modification, or potentially messes with the internal workings of the finely balanced engine of a small predator requires veterinary supervision.

Some cat owners lament that veterinary grooming is costly. Yes, and for good reasons. But for some this is preventable. Most of these aggressive cats actually do quite well as bath and brush cats. They are much more receptive to the bath and combing, than the excessive handling and clippers required for shaving. This requires education and a regular professional bathing schedule to prevent mats and a cranky attitude from forming.

That said, I did say “most”, not “all” cats. Some cats will always need veterinary supervision for the safety for all parties concerned.

So why don’t we groom sedated cats? Because we value your cat.

Trying to be cheap, and handing over a known aggressive or sedated cat over to a unsuspecting groomer to save money is negligent. Full and clear disclosure from the start will usually get you the information or strategy you need to figure out a better long-term course of action in managing the grooming needs of your cat. The Cat’s Pajamas is unwilling to put any cat’s well-being at risk. We strive to educate and promote regular grooming for long-term health and enjoyment because we are passionate about what we do, and feel cats are worth it!