Whisker Tales Cat Grooming Plenty to Purr About
Shedding It's Only Natural
Elevate Your Cat Grooming Through Breed-Centric Approaches
Photo By Nichole Taylor
Embarking on 30 Years of Barkleigh pet Pro Cruises
November 2023
“The Grooming Industry’s Trade Magazine”

Contents | NOVEMBER 2023

by Mary Tan
by Lynn Paolillo
Editorial Staff
Todd Shelly
Chief Operations Officer
Assistant Editor
Gwen Shelly
Managing Editor
Rebecca Shipman
Luke Dumberth
Laura Pennington
Brandi Aurelio
Carlee Kubistek
Cassidy Ryman
Allison Smith
James Severs
Karin Grottola
Britany Smith
Kathy Hosler
Daryl Conner
Mary Oquendo
Jonathan David
Lynn Paolillo
Dr. Cliff Faver
Jennifer Bishop Jenkins
Blake Hernandez



Groomer to Groomer TOC November '23 Cover
Debra Norton, CFMG
Owner of Whisker Tales Cat Grooming
Photo by Nichole Taylor
Copyright November 2023. Groomer to Groomer is published monthly by Barkleigh Productions, Inc, 970 West Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055. Postmaster: Send change of address to Groomer to Groomer c/o Barkleigh Productions, Inc., 970 West Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055. Annual U.S. subscription rate $25. Outside U.S. $79. year, surface rates. Groomer to Groomer is free to current Barkleigh Productions, Inc. customers. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. Editorial offices: 970 West Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055. (717) 691–3388 FAX: (717) 691–3381 Email: info@barkleigh.com
Derm Connection
Cats Will Be Cats: What We Need to Know as Groomers
by Dr. Cliff Faver
Cats are extraordinary in many ways, but when it comes to hair and skin, do we need to do things differently with cats? We often want to look at each animal as unique, but there are more similarities than differences.

One of the most unique things about a cat is that their liver cannot process many drugs/toxins like a dog or a human can. We must be very aware of what cats may be sensitive to because it may take longer to work through their system. An example would be aspirin with cats. In vet school, we were told if you gave aspirin to a cat, you would kill them. But as more research was done, we found that we could give them a lower dose less frequently, and they did fine with it.

On the groomer side, many consider d-limonene fatal, but just like aspirin, it is about dosage and timing. There have been cases where d-limonene at six percent in a dog flea and tick product was used on a cat, and it passed. The worst a cat may see at a lower dose is slight nausea, drool or occasional vomiting. Many don’t realize that most shampoos and conditioners have small amounts of d-limonene for odor control. Shampoos and conditioners, since they are made of plant material, are not pleasing to the nose, so they need a little help.

Since ingredient lists don’t include amounts, it is next to impossible to evaluate the detriment or safety of products based on the list. Everything we use could be considered a controlled poison; even water can kill you in excess, but adequate amounts are vital for survival. It is always good to be aware of things that are potentially toxic to cats and check with the manufacturer or others who have used a product before mindlessly tying it on cats.

A cat’s denser coat is also helpful because it makes them less prone to ticks, fleas, allergies, trauma and temperature changes, if we maintain their coats appropriately.
The density of the coat is another crucial difference we see in cats. They are considered double-coated but have a much denser coat than most dogs. Most double-coated dogs have a 1:12 primary to secondary hair ratio, whereas cats can have up to a 1:30 ratio. What does that mean to a groomer? That means cats rely on the dense coat to protect their very delicate skin. If we shave them down, it dramatically compromises the protection mechanism that the coat provides. As a result, the very vulnerable skin is now the first line of defense against toxins, bacteria, fungus, trauma and allergies, instead of the hair.

Cats have barbs on their tongue, so unlike dogs, they can comb/brush their hair. This is important for moving the oils through their coat and is why so many cats have such beautiful coats with limited human care. They do have a slightly higher oil production than we see in their canine counterparts. This becomes a problem if, in our grooming process, we strip too much of the oils (degrease) or if the cat has internal issues that cause abnormal sebum production. This will lead to matting, making it harder for cats to groom themselves adequately. These cats often matt severely and quit grooming, leading to the skin becoming excessively greasy. The natural response to this is to degrease the cat when it reaches this point, but this is the opposite of what we need to do.

The best technique for these cats is close (condition)-open (shampoo)-close (condition). The first close will break up the old sebum so that the excess oils can be removed in the shampoo stage, and then a great hydrating conditioner is added back in with the second close to soothe the skin and return the normal sebum layer.
Cats are cats; sometimes there are no rules for grooming them and they determine what we are going to do.
I can say with one of my previous cats, when we did this, she went right back to grooming and taking care of herself. Most of her grooms would last three to four months before the issues returned. We would have groomed her more often, but with being feral, we had to pick our battles.

A cat’s denser coat is also helpful because it makes them less prone to ticks, fleas, allergies, trauma and temperature changes, if we maintain their coats appropriately. Maintaining the coat can be challenging at times because a cat’s personality plays a significant role in the level of care we can provide. They are usually not trained or asked to do anything in the home environment, so grooming is a new experience. Many love the process, while others, at best, tolerate it.

To be a good cat groomer, we must consider many things to get good results:

  1. You only have a limited amount of time to complete the groom. So when they are done, typically you are done, too.
  2. Less restraint is better with cats. They want to be in charge, and if they feel like they are losing control, you may have a cat from hell on your hands.
  3. Do not degrease cats. Without their natural oils, it is tough for a cat to groom naturally, and it often ends in matting and shaving down.
  4. Like other animals, a cat’s skin cycle is 21 days, so optimal grooming should be done every three to four weeks.
  5. Cats are solitary animals, so other cats in the grooming area can be a source of stress/fear.
  6. I highly recommend Feliway aerosolizers in every room a cat will be in. It is also a good idea to have the owner spray down their carriers with Feliway spray the night before to keep the cats calm on the ride to the salon.
  7. It is best to have a separate holding and grooming room for cats. Cats have a perfect sense of pheromones and stress levels. If they are in the same room with dogs that have had their anal glands expressed (considered a stress response in dogs), exuding stress pheromones, barking, etc., that sounds and smells like a danger to a cat.
  8. Many groomers that groom a mix of cats and dogs designate a cats-only day (Caturday!) or half day to minimize stress.
  9. Be sure to work in closed-in areas to control a cat’s movement if it gets away from you.
  10. Always have tools on-hand to help if a cat becomes a problem—things like gloves, muzzles, EZ nabber, big towels/blankets, etc. The goal is never to use them, but if you need them, you will be glad you have them.

Cats are cats; sometimes there are no rules for grooming them and they determine what we are going to do. However, it is still important to be aware of the differences in this species and do everything we can to keep them healthy, safe and comfortable.

Dr. Cliff Faver graduated with a BS in Biology/BA in Chemistry before getting a Veterinary degree in 1987. He is the past owner of Animal Health Services in Cave Creek, Arizona and now the US distributor for Iv San Bernard products, teaches the ISB Pet Aesthetician Certification program, and speaks internationally on hair and skin. His passion is to merge groomers and veterinarians to aid in helping and healing pets. He is also a member of AVMA, AAHA, AZVMA, Board member with Burbank Kennel Club, and has served on Novartis Lead Committee, Hill’s International Global Veterinary Board, and a Veterinary Management Group.

Salon Spotlight
Whisker Tales Cat Grooming: Plenty to Purr About typography
by Kathy Hosler
Photos by NCGI, Nichole Taylor, and Whisker Tales Cat Grooming
Whisker Tales: Cat Grooming storefront signage
“Cat grooming is so rewarding,” says Debra Norton, Certified Feline Master Groomer and owner of Whisker Tales Cat Grooming in Victoria, British Colombia. “Yes, it’s a job and yes, I get paid for it, but at the end of the day, it’s very gratifying because I know that I’ve helped that cat,” she adds.

For more than 30 years, Debra had a career that she loved in the healthcare industry, working in Canada and Saudi Arabia. A lifelong animal lover, Debra also worked in wild animal rescue and rescued cats in Canada and in the Middle East where she lived for 12 years.

“Ten years ago, I had my cat groomed by a CFMG and I asked how she got into grooming. She told me about the National Cat Groomers Institute in South Carolina where she got her certification. It sounded interesting and I thought it would be something I’d really like to do,” shares Debra.

interior view of the workroom at Whisker Tales: Cat Grooming
close low angle view of a Tortoiseshell cat collared with a white ribbon an pink rose licking its chops while sitting on a grooming table
Debra Norton wears scrubs and gently grasps a black and white domestic short-haired cat while trimming its claws at a grooming table
“A few months later, I registered for the course at the NCGI,” she continues. “They sent me all of my study materials, and in November 2014, I took some time off from work and went to Greenville, South Carolina. There I did my hands-on training and exams and returned home a Certified Feline Master Groomer, a title that I am very proud of because of what it stands for. In the Spring of 2015, I returned to Greenville to do some private training with Danelle German, owner of the NCGI.

“I went into grooming with no previous experience,” Debra adds. “The training with NCGI gave me the tools I need to handle any grooming situation I may come across. The curriculum is excellent.” 

Debra continued to work full time at the hospital and groomed after work and on weekends. She officially retired at the end of 2022 and now only grooms cats.

“It didn’t take long for me to build my clientele,” she says. “I do have a website, a Facebook page, and an Instagram account—@whiskertalescatgrooming—but most of my clientele has been gained by word of mouth.”

Debra is super busy. She says there is such a need that she could work seven days a week if she wanted to. All of her regular clients book appointments for the entire year. It is difficult for Debra to take on new clients, and that usually only happens if someone moves away or a cat passes. Many of her clients have told her that they feel more comfortable bringing their cat to a trained, certified professional.

a seated Debra Norton gently holds a Ragdoll cat in her lap during a blow drying session

“I want to minimize stress as much as posssibe. Understanding cat behavior is essential, as not all cats are comfortable with the process.”

-Debra Norton

“I encourage owners to keep their cats on a regular schedule of maintenance appointments,” shares Debra. “Educating the client is something that is really important, too. I tell the client that they should have little to no maintenance in between grooms if they let me do all the ‘dirty work.’

“Cat grooming is becoming more and more recognized as a real need, but there are still people who think that cats don’t require grooming,” she continues. “The cats I see prove that isn’t true. Those who are matted or pelted, have ingrown nails, urine-soaked bellies and dirty bottoms, chin acne, stud tail, dirty and stained eyes, greasy coats and dandruff, as well as those who are just plain smelly, really need our professional attention.

“I have clients who have allergies to cats and regular bathing helps them keep their cats in their home. I also have clients who have cats in great condition and want to keep them that way,” she adds.

interior view of Whisker Tales: Cat Grooming, displaying shelves, closets, wall art and indoor plants
Debra has a good relationship with the veterinary clinics in her area and receives regular referrals from them. She says it feels good to know that the veterinarians trust her training and experience enough to send clients to her. Most of these referrals are for cats that need mat/pelt removal and the vet has suggested they try a cat groomer first to see if it can be done without sedation.

“It has been my experience, more often than not, that most of these cats do not require sedation,” says Debra matter-of-factly. “Once I remove the matting, I educate the client on how we can prevent the matting in the first place so that the cat is no longer living in discomfort/pain. My intention is to put them on a regular maintenance schedule as opposed to once-a-year shave-downs.

“As groomers, we see some of our clients’ cats more often than their vets do (with the exception of those who may have chronic health issues),” she continues. “This allows us to notice changes such as lumps and bumps, and even physical changes or behavioral changes that the owner may not be aware of. I have come across anomalies that I’ve mentioned to the owner, and encouraged them to seek veterinary evaluation if a health issue is suspected.”

While keeping in mind that time is of the essence when grooming cats, Debra says she works efficiently but doesn’t rush through her grooms.

“I want to minimize stress as much as possible,” she shares. “Understanding cat behavior is essential, as not all cats are comfortable with the process. Some cats love it, some are indifferent, and others need help by slowly introducing them to certain aspects of the groom such as the sounds of clippers, running water and blow-drying.

Debra Norton leans over a Tabby cat laying on a grooming table as she shaves the hair from the cats rear right leg
Debra Norton gently holds an orange haired cat on her lap during a grooming session
“Every cat is different,” Debra continues. “If a cat becomes stressed during anything I am doing, I will stop and assess the cat. If it calms down, I will continue the groom. If not, I will stop the groom, contact the owner, and depending on whether it was a medical issue or the cat was just highly stressed, we may try again another day. Sometimes very senior cats, for example, can only handle so much depending on what is being done, and I have, on occasion, split the groom into two sessions instead of pushing them through longer than they can manage.”

Debra is Fear Free certified and Pet First Aid certified. She feels it is very important as a groomer to know basic first aid and CPR, and to never stop learning. Debra has attended the “Bad Ass Cat Groomer Online Conference” and a cat groomer workshop/retreat in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She is also a member of the IAPEG (International Association of Professional Esthetic Groomers) as well as the NCGI (National Cat Grooming Institute).

“Continuing education is important to me,” she shares. “Unfortunately, cat grooming seminars, shows, and exhibitions are not plentiful on Vancouver Island. I do follow some of my instructors and fellow CFMGs on their social media accounts. Also, the NCGI has an alumni Facebook page where there is always something to learn and a lot of support from each other.”

There are now five CFMGs in Debra’s area, and they all received NCGI training.

“There is no competition between us. We support and encourage each other and are all very busy,” she adds.

When she became a CFMG, Debra’s objective was to be able to safely groom cats and to do it in an environment where the cats would feel safe and comfortable, which is why she chose the home-based salon model.

“It is just me and the cat,” Debra says enthusiastically. “It is canine-free, has its own entrance off of a deck in a lovely backyard where clients can wait with a coffee if they like. The cats even have a big picture window where they can look out at the bird bath from the grooming table.”

At Whisker Tales Cat Grooming, the goal is for every cat to receive a gentle, stress-free, one-on-one grooming experience, and Debra Norton’s loving care certainly gives her clients plenty to purr about!

Groomer’s Guide
Shedding: It's Only Natural typographic title
by Jennifer Bishop Jenkins
digital illustration of a man with a cat sitting on his shoulders and shedding hair
Shedding in dogs and cats is natural, normal and healthy. What’s more, it is highly functional, efficient, an easy form of self-care and environmentally beneficial—a true example of evolutionary genius! Ever notice how the big shed-off in dogs in the spring always happens when the birds are building their nests to lay their eggs?

Pet parents need to be taught that shedding is normal and natural, and hopefully by the person from which they acquire the pet. But since that is highly unlikely, they must hear it from you, their groomer. The skin and coat/hair/fur of a mammal determines so many factors about their lives, especially their health. For all of us mammals, the skin is the largest and most important organ in the body. Hair is also skin, just an extension of it, all made up of keratin proteins.

Maybe this is an old-school idea of mine, but we groomers used to teach our pet parents back in the day that they were expected to do some of the grooming tasks in-between visits to us groomers. Pet parents can and should be trained to be our partners in home care for these fur coats between grooms, and certainly also brushing the hair-type dogs to prevent matting, especially after they get wet.

Groomers should not reinforce the bad information that is sadly out there. We should provide good information. I believe that every client should get a ten-minute consultation on the dog or cat’s coat type and care when they first come to you, and at key times in their development. Educating them about the needs and functions of their pet’s coat is part of our job as professional pet groomers.

To quote my wise groomer friend Lori Kegley Marcin, “All hair is not equal.” These naturally evolved double-coated dogs and cats who naturally shed generally have two kinds of hairs on the main part of their bodies (torso). First, they have the primary hairs (often called “top coat” or “guard hairs”) which are fully formed, structural hairs with three layers to each hair shaft—the cuticle, the medulla and the cortex—and do not shed much at all. Humans have the same three layers to their head hairs. The medulla is the strong, stretchy core of the hair shaft; the cuticle is the scaly, protective outer layer of the hair shaft; and the cortex is the middle layer of each hair that contains pigments and nutrients.

The other type, the secondary hairs (or “undercoat”), are the little fuzzy insulating hairs that shed the most and are not fully formed hairs. They do not have a medulla. They are just baby fuzz that comes in and falls out with the seasons to provide either insulation from the cold in the winter, or to allow air flow to the skin in the warm months while the primary hairs stay in place to reflect the sun away. Without a medulla, these undercoat hairs are not strong enough to be protective of the thin skin of a dog and the thinner skin of a cat. That is why fur-type dogs should never be clippered on their upper torso. Clippers do not discriminate between the protective and structural primary hairs that need to stay in place for years, are very slow growing with a long dormancy period and seldom need to be replaced.

icon regarding myths and facts about shedding
Only the professional groomer needs to brush the dog.
Brushing also has to be done at home, with the professional groomer guiding pet parents to the right tools to use, how to use them and how often.
Cats are “bathing” themselves when they lick their fur.
Cats are just removing shedding coat with the unique little barbed spines or “papillae” on their tongues. They still require regular bathing and conditioning like any other mammal.
There are hypo-allergenic dogs and cats.
There are only less allergenic (hair-type breeds like Poodles) and more allergenic (fur-type breeds with dander on the skin).
Human allergies are aggravated by shedding fur.
They are aggravated by shedding skin cells attached to the shedding fur, which fur-type dogs who shed more produce more of.
Shaving fur-type dogs helps with the shedding.
It makes it worse.
Shedding dogs require less maintenance and up-keep.
Over the lifetime of the dog, an owner will probably spend more time and money on a hair-type dog at a groomer, as opposed to the average shedding fur-type dog.
All dogs’ coats are going to either primarily mat and tangle and need to be cut (“hair-type” or “undetermined length (UDL)” coats) or they are going to shed (“fur-type” or “pre-determined length (PDL)” coats). If people complain about the matting and the cost of haircuts of their hair-type dogs, or the constant cleaning up of shedding hair of their fur-type dogs, they probably always think life is better “on the other side.”

All cats have pre-determined length, or “fur,” and are usually double-coated, meaning that they have both long-lasting primary hairs and often-shedding secondary or undercoat hairs. There are exceptions though, such as the rare “hairless,” or single-coated cats, like the Sphynx or Rex. And, there is even the triple-coated Siberian cat!

Fur-type dogs and cats should not be shaved, especially on their upper torsos or “jacket” area—the vitally protective area of the coat and skin specially evolved to keep the animal alive. Without their primary hairs or topcoat, their thin skin is highly susceptible to risk of cancer, parasites, bacteria, fungal infections and a host of other issues that occur when their thin skin is not covered. Trimming of the undercarriage of the dog or cat, and in between the back legs and under the tail, does not create the same problems.

Why is my dog/cat shedding when it's staring to get colder? This gets the lighter summer undercoat out of the way so the pet can lay on its much heavier undercoat for the winter.
Why is my dog/cat shedding when it's staring to get colder? This gets the lighter summer undercoat out of the way so the pet can lay on its much heavier undercoat for the winter.
All shedding breeds of dogs and cats shed undercoat hairs a little all the time. These secondary hairs are on a much faster growing cycle—from anagen to catagen to telogen and out several times a year. But they shed, or “moult,” much more heavily twice a year. What is fascinating is that in recent years, scientists have discovered that what triggers the heavy shedding is not the temperature, but the length of light in the day.

The calendar hits two solstices each year, the shortest and longest daylight days of the year. The summer solstice in the northern hemisphere is the longest day of the year, around June 22nd. The winter solstice is around December 22nd, the shortest day of the year. For those in the southern hemisphere, like Australia, the pattern is reversed.

The heaviest shedding months for us in the northern hemisphere are April through June, when the heavy winter undercoat is blown off to lighten the load for the approaching summer. The somewhat lesser heavy shedding season of October through December is also something we can predict, planning our schedules and booking our clients accordingly.

I get asked every year by one client or another, “Why is my dog/cat shedding when it’s starting to get colder?” My answer is always to explain that this gets the lighter summer undercoat out of the way so the pet can lay on its much heavier undercoat for winter.

This whole subject requires a clear conversation with your clients. It’s a great idea also to have a pre-written or printed-out handout on the subject, preferably with visuals. Nature evolved the perfect self-care coat for all mammals in the Canidae family, or Canids (dogs), and for all members of the Felis genus (cats). Though we are all mammals, it is important that our clients learn the difference between the way our hair and skin works compared that on a dog or cat. Too many clients take their fur-type, shedding and panting dogs to groomers and demand they be shaved “because they are hot!” This is actually the worst thing we can do because we deprive them of what they need to reflect away the heat from their thin, absorbent skin—their primary hairs.

Dogs and cats lack sweat glands like the ones we have. Our sweat glands are exocrine, or “eccrine,” and put water out onto the skin. But dogs and cats have apocrine glands that release the moisture inside the hair follicle which the hairs then distribute, along with oils, around the coat and skin—another reason why shaving any dog or cat short is never a good idea. The hairs are needed to distribute the natural hydration and oils manufactured inside the follicle.

Dogs and cats do sweat, but only on the hairless parts of their skin like their noses and the pads of their feet. Dogs cool themselves through panting, which allows a heat exchange; heat goes out and cool air comes in. Cats can sweat a bit through their feet, but also only primarily have apocrine glands that emit moisture directly into their hair follicles.

Although humans, dogs and cats are all mammals with skin and hair, we humans are mostly skin and very little hair. We have thick skin and thin hair (some of us thinner than others). Dogs and cats have thinner skin and many more follicles, and more hairs per follicle than we do.

The stratum corneum is the outermost layer of the epidermis, or skin, in all mammals. For humans, it is made up of 10 to 30 thin layers of continually shedding, dead keratinocytes, or skin cells. Dogs have approximately only three to six layers of skin cells in their outermost protective skin layer, the stratum corneum. And cats’ skin is even thinner than dogs.

Nature has given dogs and cats all that fur to protect them, and in shedding, has created a perfect system that works to help them adapt to their climates. It is up to us humans to understand it and work with it—and it is up to groomers to explain that to every client.

But Why?
6 Tips for Combatting
Kitty Boredom
by Jonathan David
As professional pet stylists, we wear many hats for our customers. They rely on us for information and guidance in every aspect of their pets’ lives. Sometimes we’re the pet groomer, answering all their questions about hygiene and style, and other times our clients turn to us for advice on behavior and how to improve the quality of their pets’ lives. Whichever part of their pet’s life they need help with, as professionals, we need to be informed and ready to assist.

Knowledge is power, and being able to educate your clients will build lasting relationships and customer loyalty, which are the cornerstones of success for any pet stylist. This sentiment is especially true with cat customers. Cats can be very difficult creatures to understand, leaving many cat owners at a loss, and so they turn to their groomers for advice. Cat behavioral issues are more common than you may realize, and most of them stem from boredom.

But why does a pet groomer need to know how to combat cat boredom?

Assisting your clients with solving problems they are having with their pets is not only an excellent way to strengthen your relationship with customers, but it also gives you valuable experience that you may utilize in the future. In my career, I’ve been asked to assist clients with varying issues, and through that process of trial and error in solving the problem, I gained useful information that I can use to help other clients with in the future when they too have issues with their pets that they don’t know how to handle.

Kitty pet parents are often at a loss when it comes to figuring out why their feline’s behavior has changed. Behavioral changes in cats can be an indicator of a variety of issues from medical to environmental, but most often those behavioral changes stem from plain old boredom. Cats are often in situations where they spend vast amounts of time alone. Even in multi-cat households, some cats live a more solitary life, lacking interaction with other pets and often choosing just one family member they prefer to be around. Many housecats live exclusively indoors, which greatly limits their territory, and that alone can create stress for an animal that naturally prefers to roam a larger territory.

Common signs that a cat is suffering from boredom: Litterbox Issues, Sleeping More, Over-eating & finnicky eating, Destructive Behaviors
Cats are often the chosen pet for apartment dwellers where space is limited. The biggest issue is that indoor cats tend to become lazy and often become overweight from lack of exercise. These cats typically lack playtime and exercise and, over time, boredom sets in and their behavior starts to change. But fear not, there are ways to combat boredom and assist your clients in finding the right solutions to keep their furry feline family members entertained.

Some of the most common signs that a cat is suffering from boredom are litterbox issues, sleeping more than usual, over-eating, finnicky eating and destructive behaviors. The first step when a client notices behavioral changes is a visit to the vet to rule out a medical issue. Once a medical issue can be ruled out, the next step is to move on to enriching the cat’s daily life to battle boredom.

Here are a few tips that you can share with your clients that can help to create a more stimulating environment for their feline family members:
1. Consistency
circular arrows Cats are often the pet companion of choice because they can be left alone for longer hours than dogs. While this is true, they still need a routine. Cats tend to be creatures of habit and setting a routine schedule for cats can benefit them greatly. Cats don’t do well with a lot of change, so consistency is key to their happiness. Consistent feeding times and a regular routine for the owner will help cats feel more at ease.
2. Mental Stimulation
brain icon Mental stimulation is an excellent way to battle a cat’s boredom issue. There are many easy and fun ways to stimulate their senses and create activities that satisfy a cat’s natural instincts and behaviors. For example, scratching posts are not just a place for cats to sharpen their claws. The behavior of scratching is a stress reliever and a way to mark their territory. Scratching posts come in many forms, shapes and sizes—there are vertical towers, horizontal boards, doorknob hangers and some are even infused with catnip for extra appeal to a bored kitty. Placing the post where the cat prefers to scratch and not just where it’s convenient increases the chance of the cat using it and helps to deter them from using furniture as an alternative.

Another great mind-stimulating activity is creating a way for a cat to “hunt.” Rather than offering dry food in their bowl, divide the meal into several smaller portions and hide them in easily accessible places around the home. Add a treat to the mix to make it even more appealing and let their keen sense of smell and their natural curiosity lead them to the hidden treasures.

3. Toys
ball of yarn icon Cats aren’t like dogs when it comes to toys. Filling a basket with toys will not stimulate a cat to play with them. Cats like to stalk and chase, not grab toys from a basket. Choose interactive toys that move or that you play with along with your cat. Some cats are stimulated by small objects that resemble a rodent while others react with more enthusiasm for toys that have real feathers. Getting your cat to stalk, pounce, and chase a toy that you control is a great way to stimulate their minds and burn calories at the same time. There are many fun and interactive toys that wobble and move around in erratic patterns, which entice cats to stalk and pounce onto. Solo toys that require the cat to put into motion can be placed around the home for them to discover and play with. These toys should be swapped out every few days to avoid the cat becoming disinterested in them.
4. Visual Stimulation
cat's eye icon Cats have excellent vision and they love to observe their surroundings, especially the outdoors. Cats love to peer out the window and watch birds, insects and even wind-blown leaves. Adding a window perch provides a cat with an elevated vantage point to survey their territory and the surrounding area, which puts a cat at ease because they are aware of what’s around them, making them feel more confident. This also gives them a comfortable place to take a nap while basking in the warmth of the sun, which cats absolutely love to do.
5. A Sense of Security
cat house icon Cats are predators and it’s in their nature to move about stealthily. Cats prefer to walk under or behind furniture and other household items as a way to hide themselves. Providing hiding spaces is easy and beneficial at the same time. Place a cat’s favorite blanket or bed in a space where they can feel protected and hidden away from noise and busy family activities. Common household items can also be used as hiding spaces while providing some fun activities for the cat to enjoy. Cardboard boxes are an inexpensive and easy way to create fun hiding spots for cats. Sprinkle a little catnip inside for an extra incentive to explore the box and watch them roll around the box with pure joy.
6. Give Them a Friend
two cats icon Sometimes cats thrive from having a companion other than the owner. If a cat suffers from boredom and spends long hours alone, perhaps considering a second pet may help the situation. If a second pet is not an option, maybe a friend, neighbor or pet sitter is the perfect alternative. Having someone stop by when no one is home breaks up the loneliness and provides a distraction from their solitary day.

Providing your clients with these helpful tips will enrich their pets’ lives as well as the life of the owner. With your input, you and your clients can work together to help their pets live their best lives while positioning yourself as an informed and skilled professional.

Vector minimalist illustration of a person's hands touching a cat's cheeks as the cat is relaxed and happy with the cat's head resembling a person's head plus the cat is wearing a pink spa robe alongside typographic title Scottish Folds' Spa Day
by Lynn Paolillo
Pink uppercase letter W dropcapith their signature folded ears, the Scottish Fold is one of the most recognizable cat breeds to come to the grooming salon. Typically adorable and even-tempered, they can also be incredibly hairy. Moose and Cooper are a pair of Scottish Folds that I groom every six to eight weeks in my salon and today is their spa day!
Close-up photograph of a person's hands trimming the sharp nails of a Scottish Fold cat with nail trimmers
FIG 1) Every cat groom should start with trimming sharp nails. Hold each foot in your hand and use your thumb to gently push above each “knuckle.” This will extend the nail out so it can be more easily cut with nail trimmers.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands trimming the sharp nails of the foot area of a Scottish Fold cat with nail trimmers
FIG 2) Some Scottish Folds have stiff or even arthritic legs, so be especially gentle when handling these cats. A hug from behind keeps Moose in his comfort position while I move the foot as little as possible while trimming nails.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands holding the base nail/foot area of a Scottish Fold cat with black gunk on the actual nail
FIG 3) Black gunk around the base of the nail is an accumulation of skin oils. If there is additional redness or irritation around the nail bed, then it should be recommended for a vet visit. Otherwise, we’ll do some extra cleaning to remove the buildup during the bath.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands watering the shower nozzle close to the side area skin of a Scottish Fold cat
FIG 4) When introducing a cat to water, hold the nozzle close to their skin and control the water flow to start at a lower pressure. I prefer to start on the chest or sides to minimize any meltdowns. Get the coat thoroughly saturated with water in order to penetrate their dense coat.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using a washcloth on the skin of a Scottish Fold cat
FIG 5) Too much scrubbing or exfoliating can irritate delicate cat skin. Start with the gentlest techniques possible, like using a washcloth or baby/soft toothbrush with a dab of degreasing shampoo to remove the oil buildup around the nail beds. Express each nail to get all the way to the base of the nail and around the nail bed.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using shampoo on the head/ears area skin of a Scottish Fold cat
FIG 6) Dilute coats like Cooper, who is a Lilac Lynx Point, tend to be fuzzier and softer than dominant coats. In Cooper’s case, this means he sheds quite noticeably and really benefits from a regular grooming schedule to manage his shedding. I use a three-step process for his bath. A face-friendly shampoo is used around his head and ears, being sure to massage behind and beneath his ears, as they can be quite greasy. Then I use a degreasing shampoo all over the body, legs and tail. Finally, a clarifying shampoo is used as the second wash all over the body to make sure he is squeaky clean. This combination of warm water, scrubbing with the two shampoos and a thorough final rinse will encourage as much dead hair as possible to come out during drying.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using shampoo on the side area skin of a Scottish Fold cat
FIG 7) While Moose is a dominant color coat, a Brown Tabby and White, he isn’t as fuzzy as his brother, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a hairy beast too! Every few grooms I will swap the clarifying shampoo for a color-enhancing shampoo which makes his striking markings and white patches really pop.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using a large fluffy towel to dry off the Scottish Fold cat
FIG 8) After the bath, I wrap each cat in a large, fluffy towel. I use a “burrito-style” wrap where I start by having them stand in the middle of the towel and drape the edge of the towel over their front legs. Then I take one long side, wrap over their body and tuck the ends under their front legs. This uses the cat’s body weight while standing to keep the towel snug around their body. Then I wrap the second long side over a bit looser.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands holding the large fluffy towel in place to dry the Scottish Fold cat's upper head area
FIG 9) Keeping a loose section of towel gives me a bit to wipe around their head and face, or I can use a clean washcloth or microfiber cloth.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands peeking into a Scottish Fold cat's outer ear canal area
FIG 10) Scottish Fold ears can accumulate skin oils and ear wax due to the shape of their folded ears. Being gentle while handling their ears, I make sure to open up the outer ear canal as much as I safely can in order to clean with cat-safe ear cleaner and cotton balls.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using a water peeler nozzle dryer on the skin of a Scottish Fold cat
FIG 11) Because Moose and Cooper are regulars at my salon, I can start their blow-dry with a water peeler nozzle without causing them to become upset. For a first-time cat, I will start with no nozzle and a lower dryer flow to more slowly introduce the loud noises. With cats that noticeably shed a lot, the water peeler nozzle does a great job “blasting” out loose, dead hair without irritating skin.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using a mesh shower cap on the skin of a Scottish Fold cat
FIG 12) To also protect the cats from flying fur balls, I will use a mesh shower cap over the edge of an Elizabethan collar to keep excess hair out of their face while blow-drying.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using a water peeler nozzle dryer on the skin of a Scottish Fold cat as the dryer is blowing quickly in motion
FIG 13) When blow-drying, focus on drying from the skin out. This helps to push hair that is already dead out while also making sure the cat is getting thoroughly dried. If any area of the coat feels slightly cool to the touch, it means it is not yet dry. I prefer HV dryers that do not have a separate heat element. The air should be slightly warmed from the motor running, but not hot.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using a water peeler nozzle dryer on the skin of a Scottish Fold cat as the air flow is blowing rapidly fast in motion
FIG 14) After using the nozzle to get the coat about 90% dry, I will remove it for the last bits of drying. The wider mouth of the dryer hose means a bit more warmth and less air flow, which is better for finish drying and doing around the head. As I move towards the head, I’ll start to roll the Happy Hoodie forward. This way I can dry underneath it, while still covering their ears and face. Once it’s off, be sure not to aim the dryer hose directly into their eyes, ears, nose or mouth. Always come from behind the head to dry around the ears, cheeks and forehead, or angle underneath to dry the chin and neck.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using a large metal comb on the skin of a Scottish Fold cat to remove any clumps or tufts of remaining dead hair
FIG 15) Once dry, I use a large metal comb all over the cat’s body, chest, belly, legs and tail. Comb with the direction of the coat and use short strokes to remove any clumps or tufts of remaining dead hair.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using a small metal comb on the leg area skin of a Scottish Fold cat
FIG 16) After the larger comb glides through the coat easily, I’ll repeat the process with a finer-toothed deshedding or cat comb to get the final hairs that are ready to come out. A small face/feet comb is used around the head and legs, as those areas can have short, dense hair prone to clumping if not thoroughly combed out.
Close-up photograph of a person's hands using a boar bristle brush on the skin of a Scottish Fold cat
FIG 17) For shorthaired cats, I’ll finish with a boar bristle brush going with the direction the hair grows. This helps to evenly distribute any finishing spray or light fragrance, and can catch any lingering loose hairs or dandruff flakes.
image title "Think like a cat"
by Mary Tan
It’s no secret that dogs are people pleasers while cats are more about negotiation.
Felines act on their terms and can have the mindset of, “What’s in it for me?” Knowing that, going to the groomers can be challenging for you and the pet owner if you don’t manage expectations.

Feline Certified Cat Behaviorist Joey Lusvardi of Class Act Cats Consulting in Minneapolis, MN thinks groomers can make their jobs more difficult if they don’t understand the basics of cat behavior. Lusvardi is a huge advocate of offering in-home grooming for cats: “Felines are much more responsive to a familiar environment, so being at home is going to be far less stressful,” he says.

If you can’t go to a cat’s home, Lusvardi says there are a plethora of things you can do to make the feline more comfortable in the salon setting. One suggestion is to offer the first visit as a special playtime. Invite the furry client to explore your salon privately and lavish the kitty with play and lots of high-value treats so they think of your business as a wonderful place to visit. Make sure no grooming is done, but have your tools in plain sight so the cat can investigate them and become familiar with them.

Always take care of the most critical or important parts of the groom first, then focus on the less important parts next.
When a client makes an initial appointment, it’s important to ask the right questions. Lusvardi suggests not only asking about any prior grooming visits, but also how their kitty reacts to seeing a veterinarian and if they require medication for the appointment. “You don’t want to give advice on medications, but you can use the opportunity to determine if a cat needs to be premedicated prior to a visit, with the assistance of a veterinarian,” he shares.

Additionally, he says you should also ask about dietary restrictions so you have the right treats to keep the feline busy during the groom. And make sure you inquire about whether or not the cat has issues being handled. “If the cat has a medical condition that causes pain, it could make the groom more challenging. You don’t want to trigger an aggressive response,” he adds.

Lusvardi also encourages groomers to ask their cat clients to clicker train their cats and teach their feline to “high five.” There are many instructional videos on the internet that can teach the process. “This is a wonderful way to get the feline used to touching the human hand, which is beneficial for nail trims,” he says.

When it comes to the actual grooming, Lusvardi stresses that you should prioritize needs over wants. Always take care of the most critical or important parts of the groom first, then focus on the less important parts next. You only have so much time when a cat is under your care.

Using desensitization and counter conditioning is also important to help cats feel more comfortable with the noise and grooming equipment. Lusvardi says to start out by showing the kitty a tool, and then give them a treat or something that it really likes. “This can be toys, treats, praise, petting or even catnip, although catnip should be used with caution in a grooming setting, and probably better for a non-grooming, fun visit,” he says.

He also recommends LickiMats or puzzle toys to help occupy the cat to give you the most time to do your job. When beginning the groom, he suggests starting out slowly and getting the cat used to the feel of each tool. Ideally you should start in a low-stress area on the cat and gradually work up to the more challenging parts.

When it comes to scruffing, Lusvardi says don’t do it! “Scruffing is not a gentle handling technique. For years it was thought of as being calming for kittens, as they are carried like that by their mothers when they are young. That’s not how we see it anymore. You never see an adult cat being held by the scruff of their neck, and studies show it increases stress and can be painful if done incorrectly,” he advises.

With more and more people—especially millennials—adopting cats, feline services are becoming more in demand. It’s important that groomers are equipped with the knowledge to handle cats successfully. From a behaviorist’s standpoint, Lusvardi believes groomers are service providers who are critical to adding to the wellbeing of cats as a whole.

With society often thinking of cats as second-class pets to dogs, it’s important to understand cat ownership is evolving. So being adept in handling felines is in your best interest financially and competitively to showcase your versatility.

Grooming the Senior Cat
hairless senior cat being bathed
by Lexie Goldsmith
Photos by Lexie Goldsmith
When grooming a cat that is over seven years old, we need to take a lot more into consideration. After this age, a cat is considered senior, and therefore is at higher risk of injury or even death during or following a groom.

Similarly to when a human becomes elderly, a cat’s skin also ages. The skin layers lose elasticity and become thinner and easier to injure with clippers or even grooming tools. A cat’s skin is on average about 2-3mm thick, but as they become older, it can decrease to as thin as 0.5mm. This is one of the reasons why I prefer not to clip elderly cats, except for in cases of severe matting and neglect.

Preventing any issues during a groom is a must, so an extensive questionnaire and New Client form will prepare you and the owner to choose the best and most suitable groom for the cat.

tan cat with dark brown highlights being bathed
It should include questions such as:

  • How old is your cat? Don’t disregard this answer if they are unsure. Sometimes a cat will be a senior but the owner is unaware because it has not visited a vet. I recommend all senior cats visit a vet before their first groom to check for heart, lung and kidney disease, and to determine if they are medically fit enough for a groom.
  • Does your cat have any underlying health issues? Sometimes they will not answer this question properly. It is good to name all possible health concerns that will affect a grooming cat and have them listed on your form so a client doesn’t “forget” an important health issue.
  • Has your cat had any previous or existing injuries? The cat may have been hit by a car 10 years ago, but over time, this will increase the arthritis presence in that area, which can be extremely painful for the cat when it comes to grooming.

The senior feline usually presents with some level of arthritis, so they will come to your salon with more sebum (oils) in the coat, dead undercoat and dandruff than other adult cats due to pain during self-grooming certain areas. Some health conditions will also cause senior cats to secrete excessive sebum to protect the coat and will take many washes to remove. But we need to also remember that this sebum is a mixture of fatty acids and it has antimicrobial properties, so try not to shampoo the cat too many times.

Due to the potential of arthritis, we must adjust our grooming to keep them as comfortable as possible. The use of a thick yoga mat or padding such as a bed or your lap helps immensely.

Senior cats will also have an increased risk of heart disease. Grooming is stressful and puts pressure on the body, causing the heart to pump at a faster pace (tachycardia). This can lead to collapse and cardiac arrest (the heart stopping). It is good to know the location of where you can check the femoral pulse of a cat, which is inside the cat’s thigh in the groin area. Slight pressure with a finger will produce the rhythm. Cats have a higher heart rate, at 140-220 beats per minute, and under stress, this will be higher. The best thing we can do is keep stress to a minimum and for as little time as possible.

As the brain ages, the cat loses spatial awareness, memory and can have changes in behavior. A normally sweet cat can turn suddenly, or vice versa.
Prolonged stress, where a groom is over an hour for a senior cat, can cause the body to release stress hormones, leading to kidney failure. Choosing the easiest of your services, such as clipping the knots out in one session and bathing in another, or separating a pelted lion clip into two sessions, will help decrease stress.

When a cat is stressed, they will produce a short-term elevation in blood glucose (mild hypoglycaemia). This can push a diabetic cat into shock. With cats that are diabetic, they must see a vet to discuss any options that may be best for them, which can include home grooming or sedation.

orange cat in bathing room
Cognitive dysfunction may also be present in senior cats. As the brain ages, the cat loses spatial awareness, memory and can have changes in behavior. A normally sweet cat can turn suddenly, or vice versa. Always be aware of this. They also will have loss of hearing and eyesight, so do not leave them on high areas and be careful when working around the head.

Dental disease is also very common in senior cats. You may be able to tell from the smell, or by lifting the lip. If the cat has an advanced stage of dental disease, there will be pain associated in the jaw area, so any grooming around this area may cause stress or lead to aggression. And a cat bite from a senior cat can potentially cause more damage given the increased bacteria from their mouths. If you see any signs of dental disease (red gums and tarter) and observe pain, let the owner know, as this would be stressful for the cat’s everyday life and not just grooming.

Embedded nails are seen regularly in senior cats in their first grooming session. They are less active, therefore are not removing the layers on their nails required to keep them from embedding into the pad. If a cat presents with this, it is in fact painful and they will get upset having it removed, so it is better to address this at the end of the groom to prevent stress and aggressive behaviors.

When checking in a senior cat, always look for signs of dehydration. Do a pinch test by pinching part of the skin. If the skin does not go back to normal within one to three seconds, the cat cannot be groomed, as it is at even more increased risk of injury and stress. If a senior cat presents already panting or urinating and defecating due to stress, do not attempt to groom the cat. Even nail clipping can cause health issues and severe shock.

During a groom, a senior cat may show signs of stress such as hissing, vocalising, urinating or defecating. If this occurs, try to continue the groom in another session. If a cat has blood in their urine or feces, or starts coughing, they will need to see a vet right away.

Using methods such as lap grooming and lap drying can help keep the cat at a lower stress level. Choosing a regular bathing schedule (many senior cats love a warm bath and blow-dry) instead of a clip where you need to continuously stretch the skin and move the cat around into uncomfortable positions is a far kinder approach to grooming the senior.

After the groom, I also make sure the client keeps an eye out for signs of ill health. If a cat decides to not eat or drink after the groom, they will need to see a vet right away, as this can indicate signs of kidney failure. Contact the client that afternoon or the day after the groom to check up on the cat’s comfort and health. This not only reminds the client that their cat is a senior and that they need to observe their cat more closely, but it also shows that you care about the client and their pet.

Lexie Goldsmith is an International Certified Master Cat Groomer and Qualified former Veterinary Nurse that has been grooming cats for over 15 years. Lexie teaches her low-stress cat grooming techniques online worldwide at learncatgrooming.com.au and in person in her salon, Lexie’s Dog and Cat Grooming, in Perth, Western Australia.

Better Cat Grooming
Elevate Your Cat Grooming Through Breed-Centric Approaches
by Lynn Paolillo
W hen it comes to the world of pet grooming, much attention is often directed towards dogs. Grooming techniques, products, and discussions largely revolve around the diverse breeds and patterns that canines possess. But what about our feline friends? Cats come in just as many varieties, each with their own unique needs and characteristics that warrant special attention.

While haircuts like the Lion Cut and other services like nail trims and nail caps may be similar across most cats, the foundation of each groom should focus on enhancing the natural beauty and features of each cat. Here we’ll cover some common cat breeds and the different grooming techniques that apply to each, as well as how they can be applied to the domestic shorthairs and longhairs likely filling your schedule.

Common Cat Breeds
Vector of a Persian cat
Persians: While their signature smushy face stands out among other cat breeds, the Persian coat is both luxurious and full. Prone to matting, the best approach for this coat is deep cleansing with a degreaser and/or clarifying shampoo so that any excess dead hair or clumps comb out more easily. A clean coat and blow-drying against the growth of the hair create the ideal voluminous look of the Persian and Himalayan. A small amount of trimming immediately above their eyes and the hairs growing off the tips of their ears assist in the overall look of roundness this breed requires. Plucking dead hair just below the cheeks creates a round cheek separate from their jaw line. Otherwise, the Persian is left full and natural, including their toe tufts, or hairs growing in between the paw pads and toes.
Vector of a Siamese cat
Siamese: In stark contrast to the Persian, these sleek and short-coated cats require much less intensive grooming care, as the likelihood of mats and tangles are much lower. However, they still benefit from bathing with simple cleansing shampoos, drying with the growth of the hair and brushing with a soft, natural bristle brush. This helps to smooth their coat so that it is flat against the body and more evenly distributes the oils from their skin, thus providing a natural shine without needing additional products.

In the show ring, it is common to see exhibitors carrying their Siamese cats in chamois cloths to keep the oils from their own hands off their cats’ coats so as to keep a clean, sleek look.

Vector of a Maine Coon cat
Maine Coons: As one of the largest domestic cat breeds, Maine Coons have dense fur that can benefit from regular brushing to prevent matting. However, the ideal look is natural without any sculpting or volumizing. Coats should be groomed regularly to maintain a good balance of a full undercoat without excess dead hair which can lead to matting. The ear tips and tufts should be left alone, as they are a recognizable feature of this breed.

Note: While ideally this breed is kept in full coat, I have many Maine Coon cats in my grooming salon that are kept in more low-maintenance haircuts. When doing a Lion Cut or Comb Cut, I prefer to leave their tail full, as well as a fuller ruff and mane. This maintains the overall look their owners love while keeping their body shorter to prevent any problems.

Vector of a Sphynx cat
Sphynx: Even though this breed is hairless, their lack of fur doesn’t mean they are maintenance-free. These cats require regular bathing to keep their skin clean and healthy, as many have a buildup of oils, especially around their nail beds, ears and some skin folds. A warm bath with gentle, fragrance-free cat shampoo is all this breed needs to keep them in tip-top shape.

Frequency can depend on how quickly their excess oils are visible, with many needing weekly baths to remove the buildup. A soft baby toothbrush or washcloth can provide a bit of gentle exfoliating around the nail beds and chin area for any blackheads, etc.

Vector of a Scottish Fold
Scottish Folds: Known for their unique folded ears, these cats should have their ears cleaned regularly to prevent buildup. Their coats can also be very dense and hairy in both the shorthaired and longhaired varieties. Regular bath, blow-dry and comb-outs will be necessary to keep them from getting clumpy and matted, and to keep their shedding and hairballs to a minimum as well. A comb with staggered teeth for deshedding can be very beneficial for these cats. Just make sure to avoid over brushing, as it can be irritating to the cat’s skin. Breeds with a similarly thick, dense coat are the British Shorthair and Exotic Shorthair.
Applying Techniques to Domestic Shorthairs and Longhairs
While cat breeds offer distinct grooming challenges and opportunities, the majority of feline clients in a grooming salon will be domestic shorthairs and longhairs. These cats may not have breed-specific traits, but they can still benefit from having their coats and overall grooming needs assessed and techniques tweaked to be the best fit for each.

When assessing a cat as it arrives at the salon, take care to notice the feel of their coat. Is it soft and plush, silky and flat-lying, or more coarse and thick? Products, tools and techniques should then be chosen based on:

  1. Solving any coat problems the cat is currently experiencing (clumps, tangles, matting, etc.)
  2. If there are any similarities to specific breeds
  3. Improving on what the cat already has

An example of this might be selecting a color-enhancing shampoo that makes the striking markings of a shorthaired red tabby really stand out. Or taking care to blow-dry and comb with the growth of a flat-lying coat for a cat that resembles a Turkish Angora. Or perhaps leaving a fuller mane on a rescued cat the owner believes may be a Siberian or Maine Coon.

In the world of pet grooming, cats often play second fiddle to dogs. However, recognizing the importance of adapting grooming techniques can revolutionize the way we care for the cats in the grooming salon.
Be sure to remember that this would not override the need to solve any problems like matting, hairballs, etc., as correcting those would be the first priority. After those are relieved, then a long-term grooming care plan can incorporate more enhancing products and techniques.

In the world of pet grooming, cats often play second fiddle to dogs. However, recognizing the importance of adapting grooming techniques can revolutionize the way we care for the cats in the grooming salon.

Each cat breed comes with its own set of grooming challenges and artistic opportunities. So whether it’s the Himalayan with a luxurious coat, the striking patterns of a Bengal or the domestic longhair that resembles a Ragdoll, tailoring your grooming techniques to suit these breeds will not only make your job easier, but will also contribute to the health and happiness of the cats you care for.

Just as dog groomers consider breed groups and coat types, feline groomers can elevate their craft by embracing the diversity of cat breeds and providing them with the grooming care they deserve.

Elevate Your Grooming
Shorthaired Lion Cut
by Blake Hernandez
Before and After
Blue uppercase letter C dropcapat grooming is not for everyone. They have thinner skin, sharper teeth, longer nails, faster strikes and are seemingly unpredictable. This cat required its first shave due to a skin reaction which the owners wanted to make sure was not affecting places other than her muzzle.
Close-up photograph perspective of a person's hand using a blue haircut blade clipper in reverse to shave off a black cat's belly area by striping upward and downward
Fig 1) When shaving cats, I always start with their belly. If I come to find out that their temperament is not going to make it through a groom, I’d rather have a stripe down the belly than the back. On this cat, I’m using a #9 in reverse for the entire groom.
Close-up photograph perspective of a person's hand using a blue haircut blade clipper in reverse to shave off a black cat's base tail area
Fig 2) Starting at the base of the tail, I begin shaving the body of the cat.
Close-up photograph perspective of a person's hand using a blue haircut blade clipper in reverse to shave off a black cat's base tail area while the cat's head is tucked in between the arm/side of the person's body
Fig 3) So that the cat feels secure and does not look for an escape, I keep her head tucked between my arm and the side of my body.
Close-up photograph perspective of a person's hand using a blue haircut blade clipper in reverse to shave off a black cat's base tail area from the point of hock as the person is applying pressure to the knee of the cat holding it in an extended position
Fig 4) Using my hand to apply pressure to the knee, I hold it in an extended position. Then I can clip the cat in reverse from the point of hock.
Close-up photograph perspective of a person's hand using a blue haircut blade clipper in reverse to shave off a black cat's leg area while being extended out as the skin is taunt
Fig 5) I use this as an opportunity to clip the whole way around the leg while it’s extended and the skin is taut.
Close-up photograph perspective of a person's hand using a blue haircut blade clipper in reverse to shave off a black cat's back shoulder blades area leaving a crisp line
Fig 6) The back of the cat’s shoulder blades is my anatomical marker where I will stop clipping. But I am not blending; I am stopping starkly and leaving a crisp line.
Close-up photograph perspective of a person's hand rubbing a black cat's back shoulder blades area revealing the shaved sharp and crisp line of the trimmed pattern
Fig 7) These steps are all done before the bath to minimize drying time with a cat. Here you can see the sharp and crisp line of the shave pattern.
Close-up photograph perspective of a person's hand using a blue haircut blade clipper in reverse to shave off a black cat's end point tail area
Fig 8) I would have liked to shave further up the tail, but the cat had a previous break that had healed and I didn’t want to further expose that.
Close-up photograph perspective of a person's hand using a blue haircut blade clipper in reverse to shave off a black cat's body area going in small sections while stretching the skin tight to clean up clipper work
Fig 9) Now that the cat is bathed and dried, I go in small sections while stretching the skin tight to clean up my clipper work.
Close-up photograph perspective of a person's hand holding a black cat's rear head area showing the final trimmed cut pattern line when the remaining fur is pushed back
Fig 10) This is what the pattern line looks like when you push back the remaining fur.
Never promise more than you can deliver with cat grooming. And never groom a cat that is more scared than you are confident. Remember these rules and you should have great success building your cat clientele!
Yes, Dear…
by Anjie Coates
Photo by Anjie Coates
  • Maurice is a monthly Persian client who thoroughly enjoys his spa day.
  • Cat
    Maurice: “I’m ready for my spa day! Groom me,” as he leaps out of his carrier into a sploot on the table.
  • Scissors
    “Nails first, then bath,” I say.
  • Cat
    Maurice: “I just got them nice!”
  • Scissors
    “Yeah, and they’re nice and sharp, so your Mom wants them clipped,” I tell him.
  • Cat
    Maurice: “Fiiiine.”
  • Scissors
    I trim his nails without a fuss as my assistant Angie gets his bath water to the proper temperature.

    “OK, time to get you clean, buddy,” I say.

  • Cat
    We work through the bath while he stands on his back feet and looks at the bubble stickers on the wall.
  • Scissors
    “Need to wash your face now. Lemme see those eye boogies,” I tell him.
  • Cat
    Maurice tilts his head back at me and closes his eyes.
  • Scissors
    I use a soft microfiber cloth to wipe his face as he begins to purr.

    “Nothing like a nice clean face. Huh, buddy?” I ask.

  • Cat
    Maurice head boops against my arm in agreement.
  • Scissors
    I rub his conditioner in and he melts into a joyful pile of fur at the bottom of the tub.
  • Cat
    When the timer goes off, he opens his eyes and looks somewhat annoyed he’s been awoken.
  • Scissors
    “OK, now for the rinse and you’re off to the table,” I tell him.

    After rinsing him and squeezing out the water, I wrap him in a heated towel.

  • Cat
    Maurice: “I love toweling,” as he peeks one eye out from under the towel.
  • Scissors
    “I know you do,” I say as I squeeze the water out and then put another dry heated towel on and put him on the table.

    “OK, buddy, we have to put your hoodie on so we can dry you,” I tell him.

  • Cat
    Maurice: “I’m good in my towel.”
  • Scissors
    “I know, but I can’t really dry you under the towel. You can be on the towel,” I say as I put his hoodie on and fix his whiskers.
  • Cat
    Maurice: “OK, wake me when we’re done,” as he sighs and begins to nod off.
  • Illustration of coffee with whipped cream and cinnamon
  • Scissors
    I dry his back end and then the rest of him while he slumbers peacefully.

    “We need to dry your head, pal,” I tell him.

  • Illustration of beanie and scarf
  • Cat
    Maurice: “I’m sleeping, do it later.”
  • Scissors
    “No, we need to do it now. C’mon, gimme the hoodie so we can fluff your mane,” I say.
  • Cat
    Maurice sighs and lifts his head.
  • Scissors
    I dry his head and face and then gently place his head back on his front feet.
  • Cat
    Maurice: “Hey! You were holding. Want more holding.”
  • Scissors
    “Angie is going to rub your head while I comb you out,” I tell him.
  • Cat
    Maurice: “Get the belly,” as he stretches out to his full length so I can comb his belly.
  • Scissors
    “I always do, buddy,” I say.
  • Cat
    Maurice flips upside down and goes back to sleep.
  • Scissors
    I finish grooming him and he sleeps through the entire process.

    “Hey, buddy, you’re all done!” I tell him.

  • Cat
    Maurice: “Pictures?”
  • illustration of large and small pumpkin
  • Scissors
    “Of course!” I reply.
  • Cat
    Maurice: “Oh, good. Carry me!”
  • Scissors
    I carry him to the picture room and put him on the platform.

    “Want to be a scarecrow?” I ask.

  • Cat
    Maurice: “Yeah, OK.”
  • Scissors
    “You’re the most handsome scarecrow ever,” I tell him as I take his picture.
  • Cat
    Maurice: “I know. Now hold me.”
  • Scissors
    And I reply,
    Yes, dear
Scarecrow illustration
Embarking on 30 years of Barkleigh Pet Pro Cruises
by Denise Heroux
The Barkleigh Pet Pro Cruises are an amazing asset to the grooming community with a goal to create a casual vacation environment where attendees can learn from industry leaders and foster real and meaningful connections with one another—and they’ve been going on for 30 years!
illustrated sail boat wheel
A very satisfied group of groomers, along with new grooming cruise hosts Corina Stammworthy and myself, Denise Heroux, just returned from a wonderful cruise to Bermuda in September. The legendary groomer, judge and grooming business expert Teri DiMarino was the featured speaker who, in fact, was the speaker on the very first Pet Pro Cruise in 1994.

The setup for the cruises is very simple for attendees to navigate. Typically there are three days at sea, plus the destinations or ports in between. All education is scheduled for days at sea to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy the ports and sightseeing. There is generally about eight hours of education, and with the small group size and intimate environment, attendees feel more comfortable speaking up and asking questions. After seminars commence in the morning, attendees are then free to do whatever they would like on the boat.

There are also “non-formal” events to help get everyone together in a less structured environment—including the Welcome Cocktail Party. This event provided an opportunity for attendees to formally introduce themselves and get to know a little of each other’s backgrounds.

illustrated anchor
The other informal gatherings on this past cruise included two different sessions of “Let’s Talk Shop with Denise and Corina” where attendees could sit and enjoy coffee or a drink and talk about all things grooming. And let’s not forget the Rum Tasting excursion! This was an optional excursion offered to anyone on the boat, but it provided a fun evening to let loose and enjoy some Bermuda culture (and rum!).

I had the pleasure of interviewing a few of the attendees during the cruise, and I was blown away by the feedback I received. Kim Ferrell and Ronni Ribar, owners of Lush Pet Spa in Jacksonville, NC, decided to bring their nine-person staff on this cruise. They believe that continuing education and team morale are crucial for running their business to the high standards they have set.

vector of sail boat
The seminars touched on a variety of topics, which allowed the salon’s receptionist, Ashley Fontenot, to gain more knowledge for more effective client communication. They said they enjoyed the intimate class size and the relaxed and informative nature of the Q&A sessions. The mental reset and team building were just added bonuses!

Kayla Mae, owner of Pretty Paws Pet Spa in Wisconsin, was a returning guest after attending this year’s January Pet Pro Cruise. Her story about her 84-year-old grandfather, who was able to attend the cruise with her in September, tugged at my heartstrings. He was hit with some health issues that caused him to go nearly blind, and it was always his wish to go on a cruise. So, Kayla jumped at the opportunity go on the Bermuda cruise to make sure this happened for him. When she wasn’t attending the seminars, she was taking her grandfather around the island, making sure he ate all the lobster he wanted and got the opportunity to learn more about their family history.

On the last day of the cruise, Kayla signed up for the January 2024 Barkleigh Pet Pro Cruise. She says she loves connecting with other groomers and being able to “check out” for a few days. She gets to balance “work and play” on the cruise all while sharing travel with her family.
Another cruiser, Jessica Fox-Barnes, is just starting her grooming career after only two years in the industry. She works in Johnstown, Ohio, a small rural community around the Columbus area, for an owner that hasn’t always been a part of the pet industry. Even though the business’s owner isn’t a groomer, she fully supports continuing education.

Jessica attended every extracurricular event we offered and was such a delight to have in the seminars. She says she got the most out of the sit-down talks, interactions with other groomers and the personal attention this learning platform offers. She encourages anyone who is on the fence about signing up for a future cruise to “just do it!”

These cruises are a wonderful part of the grooming industry because they not only provide the top-notch education that Barkleigh is known for, but also offer a unique travel experience and the chance to make new friends who all share the same passion—pet grooming!

If you are interested in joining us for a future cruise, you can visit Barkleigh.com and click on “Pet Pro Cruise” under the “Shows” tab, or follow the “Barkleigh Pet Pro Cruise” Facebook page for announcements of upcoming cruises. See you on the boat!

How to attract and retain the right clients for you
by Kelsey Ann Sexton
We all have our favorite clients that come in on a regular basis; the ones that want the haircuts you want to give; the ones that show up like clockwork. But what if your book was full of clients just like these? The key is figuring out what types of dogs you absolutely love grooming and invest in becoming the best at it. In turn, you’ll gain clients that will seek out and respect your work. Read on for three tips to help you confidently book and keep clients you love.
1. Avoid Out-Of-Specialty Client Appointment Requests
A day full of dogs is great, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re in the business of building an ideal clientele, you need to be strategic. One of the biggest red flags I see is when you accept new clients, or continue to book clients, for something that isn’t your specialty. First you have to really decide what your specialty is. What do you want to groom? Once you decide, only share that on your social media and website. Now that you’ve narrowed down your specialty, clients will request it and it will be obvious your work is sought after.

To avoid clients that aren’t going to work with your specialty plan, keep an eye out for new or recurring bookings that stray away from what you want the majority of your ideal clientele to ask for. Want to specialize in small dogs? Don’t take a new large dog client. Are doodles your thing? Don’t take on a family of yorkies. Once-a-year dogs not your cup of tea? Don’t accept shave-downs. Want to do more breed standards or Asian Fusion? Start showcasing that. Hone in on what you want to groom and you’ll attract more of it.

If it still sparks joy to service a client out of your specialty, step back and make sure that client isn’t blocking you from working with your dream client. Clients that don’t like your style take extra time to complete the service because you are using your energy in a way that negotiates your goals. You will start to feel drained faster if you keep servicing clients that don’t fit your style. The more you pay attention to what you want, the more you will naturally become a magnet to clients you enjoy grooming and you’ll groom less and less clients that you don’t enjoy.
2. Implement Policies That Deter No-Shows and Late Cancellations
No-shows and late cancellations are a big symptom of the wrong-fit clients. Pre-payments and no-show protection are the only ways to avoid these costly catastrophes. To make sure you don’t get left out to dry, require clients to provide a percentage of your services when booking. All clients. Yes, even your favorites.

Policies can be a great tool to refer to when you’re dreaming of your ideal client. Your ideal clients will still need a little structure simply because pet grooming can be so complex, but they are typically easy to communicate with and will appreciate healthy boundaries and professionalism.

3. Lock In your ideal clients to keep them coming back.
Once you find your ideal clients, how do you keep them coming back? Communication. Automated personalized texts and emails from booking software or special letters, calls, thank-you notes—anything that makes your clients feel connected to you—are huge relationship builders that you need for good client retention. Personalize your social media and business profiles. Clients want to see a piece of you, and that piece becomes a part of their beloved pet. You’ll attract people that genuinely enjoy the real you!

Ultimately the key is personalizing what grooming style makes you most satisfied and, in turn, making your dream clients satisfied. Stellar service, communication and honesty will create raving fans that keep coming back. Our industry is booming and there’s no reason to not do what you love!

Show Schedule
Barkleigh Productions Inc.
New Jersey
groom expo west
2/15/2024 – 2/18/2024
Pasadena, CA
groom expo
9/5/2024 – 9/8/2024
Hershey, PA

pet boarding & daycare
11/4/2024 – 11/7/2024
Hershey, PA
1/20/2024 – 1/25/2024
Radiance of the Seas
all american grooming show
8/15/2024 – 8/18/2024
Schaumburg, IL
new jersey
4/4/2024 – 4/7/2024
Secaucus, NJ
northwest grooming show
4/25/2024 – 4/28/2024
Tacoma, WA
pet boarding & daycare West
5/20/2024 – 5/23/2024
Las Vegas, NV
new england grooming show
9/26/2024 – 9/29/2024
Springfield, MA
6/20/2024 – 6/23/2024
Wilmington, OH
groom texas
July 2024
Houston, TX
fun in the sun
10/10/2024 – 10/13/2024
Orlando, FL
(717) 691– 3388
New Products
Cat getting groomed by its owner
The new Cosy and Dozy cat brush is a practical, ecological and vegan-friendly accessory for daily care of our furry friends. Thanks to it, we can take care of both their neat appearance, as well as their health and well-being. As you know, regular brushing of cats’ fur helps to prevent possible problems within their digestive tract, but our cat brush is also ideal as a massager. The base of the handmade brush is crafted from natural beech wood and the long bristles are made from tampico fiber extracted from agave, which is an extremely stimulating natural material. cosyanddozy.com
Per Pourri Pet Odor Eliminator Spray
Skout’s Honor Probiotic Ear Cleaner for cats restores harmony and helps stabilize the ear’s natural microbiome for a happier and healthier cat. Our probiotic cat ear cleaner gently cleans, soothes, and protects dirty, itchy and irritated ears. And, the probiotics continue to fight against harmful bacteria in the ears for up to two weeks. Good bacteria serve as a natural defense against the environmental damage and inflammation commonly associated with itching, dryness, infection and odor. When applied to the skin, probiotics support the good bacteria that naturally calm inflammation and prevent bad bacteria from taking over. www.skoutshonor.com
Wisdom and Grace verse
Other Industry Events
3/8/2024 – 3/10/2024 | www.groomd.org

Groomer to Groomer
Thanks for reading our November 2023 issue!