Kitty’s Corner
"Cat grooming education"
"Leave it to the professionals"
by Deborah Hansen

very day we learn something new. Sometimes we actively seek to learn, other times we learn by our environment. Education truly is an ongoing process.

When it comes to cat grooming, a formal education is much better than a passive education. It is far better to learn how to handle a cat from a professional organization with trained and certified instructors than to teach yourself by trial and error. When we fail at grooming a cat, we as the groomer are usually injured. Considering that many cat bites require antibiotics and sometimes surgery, the risk to your body, ability to provide for yourself and your reputation as a groomer is a high price to pay for not seeking a formal education.

In March 2013, I attended the two-week school session the National Cat Grooming Institute (NCGI) had in South Carolina. I often say it was harder than the work I did to get my Master’s Degree. When I attended the school session, I knew nothing about cat grooming. In fact, the only reason I went to South Carolina was because learning to groom my own cat was one of my bucket list items.

The two-week session included hands-on training on how to groom cats of all temperament types. They also taught business topics, including how to establish an online presence, marketing, advertising, and everything I needed to open and operate my cat grooming business. It was worth every minute and every penny.

Over the years, the NCGI has changed from having a two-week school session in South Carolina to having a two-part learning strategy. Currently, they use distance learning with online materials and support followed by hands-on training with approved trainers and/or certifiers. Their approved trainers and certifiers are located across the globe, making their education more accessible and affordable to many groomers. Certifiers are available for those who desire to earn a Certified Feline Master Groomer (CFMG) title.

When I started grooming cats, there was only one cat grooming organization. Now there are several. As with anything, it is important you do your own research before you pick an organization to work with. Watch videos of the organization’s founders grooming, read reviews and ask for referrals when deciding the best organization to aid in your cat grooming journey.

Make sure the organization you are considering for your education grooms and advertises grooming the same types of cats you are getting appointments to groom. While many organizations groom the shy, compliant types of cats, it is not realistic in a profitable business. It is important to learn the skills needed to groom the cats that your business will encounter. We all want to groom sweet kitties, but the reality—especially for new groomers—is that we will get mostly aggressive cats walking in our doors. Choose an organization that will teach you how to groom the grumpy cats so you can tailor those skills to meet the needs of all the sweet, compliant cats as well.

After you have your basic education and a little experience, it is important you continue your education. Cat groomers have more options than ever to learn from other cat groomers: There are several professional cat grooming social media groups that have valuable content. Multiple people, myself included, have social media pages that are focused on continuing education for cat grooming. My monthly column in Groomer to Groomer brings you a different cat grooming topic each month. And for those of you that can travel, Barkleigh has returned to in-person trade shows, which are invaluable for continuing education.

About three years after my grooming business was up and running, I was burnt out on continuing education. I was tired from working long hours, managing employees and grooming aggressive cats. Then I started creative grooming. Creative grooming not only gave me my spark back, but it made me a better cat groomer. I learned how to hold and use my clippers in new ways which had the added benefit of helping me improve my pelt removals. After your basics are down, another avenue for continuing education is feline creative grooming. If you are working with the NCGI, they now offer a Certified Feline Creative Groomer title.

Continuing education is something that many clients and employers also value. Having your continuing education documented on your website, social media, and resume shows people you are interested in growing your career and keeping up-to-date on current trends, products and safety protocols. It also shows people that you enjoy your profession and strive to be the best you can be. When clients know you actively seek and pursue additional knowledge on how to care for their cats, they are more likely to respect you as a professional and keep to a regular grooming schedule.

Cat grooming is a dangerous profession, but having a formal basic education then constantly continuing your education will be the best strategy to keep you safe during your grooming career.