A few weeks ago I found out that a company I really like, Pure Paws, was holding a Halloween photo contest. Basically, they wanted a nice groom, with a touch (or more!) of creative, and some of their products in the picture. That's not too hard! I thought it would be fun to do with Sara. The only problem was that I'm in Horsham, PA, and Sara is back home. So I had one chance to do it, a day or two before the contest closed.
I came up with a great idea that I thought it would be quick and easy and look really cool. (I ended up being right about only one of those!) I had already packed away most of my creative gear, since I didn't think I'd need it until after we moved. But I had a can of special pet spray chalk that I figured would work "just as well." It...didn't. It was trickier and messier than I thought. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get things done the way I wanted the first try, and I just didn't have the time for a second try. I think I'll do this again, I know exactly where I went wrong, and how to fix it. It's actually an easy fix, so my next attempt at this really will be quick, easy and fun. Live and learn, eh?
(Solution: turn off all the lights and block the window)
The might Highland Lynx defends her territory
Alternative caption: I'm booooooored!!!!
Have you noticed that Sara isn't exactly creatively groomed yet? I was smart and got everything set up BEFORE I groomed her, since I knew the product would be prone to smudging. Good thing I did, it took much longer than I anticipated to figure out how to get everything set up so that it looked good. The pumpkin wanted to reflect back a ton of light, and the labels wanted to wash out entirely. It was frustrating, but we finally got. We just had to turn out all the lights and block one of the two windows. I don't know how there was enough light to take pictures! But it worked. And yes, the entire time Sara was happy to hang out on the table, completely unrestrained. I think she just liked hanging out with us. And she loved the pumpkin! She'd snuggle up against it and purr.
I love my pumpkin.
Spooky eyes in the darkness!
Sara, can you look...happier?
I LOVE MY PUMPKIN
She means it, folks.
That's kinda how I felt when the eyes started to smudge.
Let's all just close our eyes and face palm with a pumpkin.
Creative grooming can be hard in the most unexpected of ways.
Plus it's tricky to get everything lined up just so.
Groom has to be presented just right, expression has to be just so, camera has to focus...
This ended up being the best picture of the day. Sara and I won 5th place! How exciting and unexpected! Despite the problems I ran into, it was still a lot of fun to do. Sara enjoyed herself, I learned more about creative work, we took a nice picture and what more can anyone ask for?
Huge thanks to Pure Paws for holding another fun contest!
In the midst of moving, starting a new job and trying to figure out life in a new town, Hershey Groom Expo happened. Hershey is the Big Show of the year for us East Coasters. It's a big deal, everyone goes! There's a HUGE trade show, lectures, classes, demos, competitions, certifications for different organizations, dinners, socializing and lots of people. Tons of people! It's a lot of fun. Lots of shopping, lots of new products and lots of hanging out with other groomers.
Most of the competitions are breed standard type grooming contests. And of course, the big extreme creative class. Last year, they introduced the Abstract Creative Runway. You may remember...I tried to blog about it,but neverquite finished. I'll get there!
Well, I went again this year. It ended up being a crazy weekend, for reasons I won't get into. I was supposed to use a friend's cat, since I was planning on taking Sara to the Mid Ohio Groom Expo. We're skipping MOGE this year, to my immense disappointment. With everything else going on, I just couldn't swing it. Hopefully, we'll make it next year. Things got tricky, as they do, and at the twelfth hour, I ended up taking Sara.
Nope, can't go. Playing!
Fine. Then I'll take Haiku instead. She'll be famous and you
can stay home and play.
That settled, I took Sara to my friend's salon and got busy. I had an idea that was based loosely on a metal wall hanging my father gave me. Actually, he forgot he gave me one, saw it at the store several years later and thought "Hey, I bet my daughter would really like this!" and gave me a second one. I do really like them, so I'm hoping for a third in the next year or so.
Almost finished...and look, Hobbes. Hi, Hobbes!
It was right about this time I noticed Sara start scratching her ear. A quick check revealed it was a bit swollen and unhappy. This is pretty normal for her, so I called the vet and they were able to see us that afternoon. Sara has rather small ear canals, plus she has lots of polyps in them. Just for fun, she also has some unusual bacteria that sometimes causes an infection to show up. Luckily, it responds really well to medication. Unfortunately, it's a sticky, waxy medication that makes a mess for the first few days. I'm very happy to report by the next day (show day!) all the swelling was gone - and so were the itchies. We love our vet!
Everyone at the vet thought she looked super cool.
I had a couple of activities planned for the hours before the show, and while the Hershey Lodge is a fabulous place and has hosted the Groom Expo forever, they don't really like pets roaming around the halls. So my husband was the kitty babysitter while I did my shopping, my socializing and got a private bathing lesson with the president of the NCGIA.
There was a lot of this...
Tiger declined to explore.
Since the contest took place during the fancy dinner, there was no actual time listed. So we hung out in the car. Got changed, got Sara ready, and hung out in the car some more. And hoped we weren't missing the contest.
Is it time to go yet???
Okay, Sara. Let's go.
Having finished waiting in the car, it was then time to wait in the hallway.
Wait, wait, wait.
We didn't get any pictures of the other entries, but if you check out The Good, The Bad and The Furry, there's a great write up over there. She didn't get it all either, so if I come across any other posts, I'll update it here. Abstract is really fun, the idea is a beautiful design is done in addition to a regular groom. Something that can be done in one day, for say, a regular client. Color should be minimal or not at all. The name implies that the design should be abstract....but mostly it's an elegant groom with a little creative polish on top. And rhinestones. For the loves of paws, you'd better bling it up for Abstract! Each competitor is introduced, walks down the runway and presents to the judges. I don't know how they judge the entries, and I usually dislike the ones that place. Unfortunately, the judges only took one, quick look at each entry. This is a bummer, because we all spent a lot of time and effort to prepare our grooms. And money. That entry fee was not cheap! I wish they would draw straws, or names out of a hat. I think it would make just as much sense and might be a bit more fair!
That grip over, I wasn't expecting to place with Sara. In the creative world, the white Standard Poodle is king. Just like last year, I was the only one with a cat. For the judging panel, this did not make us stand out in a good way. Being astute, I didn't go to win. I went to represent good cat grooming. I went to show everyone cats can compete. Cats can do creative. And that you don't need a white Standard to have a good time! I may have also gone because it's fun to stand out, and to poke at the status quo.
After dinner entertainment!
So Sara and I did our walk down the runway, got glanced at by the judges, waited through the awards, and then the real judging started. First, I found the NCGIA table, so I could show off to my friends, mentors and supporters. Then back out into the hallway for some pictures.
Why yes, I did put my perfectly groomed cat on a fancy piano. I've always wanted to.
I wish this picture had come out better.
It shows off her design the best and I love it.
There were A LOT of people stopping to get pictures of Sara.
Not as many as last year, but we had a solid
fifteen minutes of photo ops.
Can't forget Rowdy!
The worlds only
Certified Feline Master Groomer's Companion
Lots of talking to people at my favorite topics:
Me telling my husband I only get dressed up fancy
and pose the cat on a piano ONE DAY A YEAR
and that he'd better get a few good pics.
I don't remember what we're looking at.
I bet it was interesting.
Let me brag about my husband. Not only did he drive us up, but he hung out in the car all afternoon, cat sitting Tiger and Sara. He got us dinner (which we had to eat in the car). Then he drove us to my boss' hotel room to get changed. Zipped up my dress. Then drove me, the cats and my boss back to the Lodge. Hung out in the car with me some more. Then waited in the hotel with me. He never complained once. Never acted anything but cheerful and supportive. He didn't even annoy me while I was nervously waiting for it to start! Just sat quietly when I didn't want to talk, but chatted with me when I did. He was incredibly proud of me, my groom and my presentation. Boasted just enough to the folks taking pictures. Told me I was pretty, my cat was awesome and that we totally should have won. Then he drove us home in the pouring rain, getting back around midnight.
We got home late. So tired! (Haiku didn't go to the Expo, but I did get
her a new bed there. She loves it.)
My husband is pretty fantastic. I couldn't ask for anyone better! I'm a very lucky girl.
Once again, we had a great time at Hershey Groom Expo! I hope that Sara and I were good ambassadors for cat grooming. For all the grumbles I have with the judging, it's absolutely something I knew going in, and did make the decision to compete anyway. Winning is wonderful, and I'd really like to get back on the podium someday, but competing is fun! Coming up with ideas and making them work is hard and interesting and frustrating and fun. All that fancy clipperwork makes me a better groomer, even for my regular ol' grooms. And it's fun being the only cat in a sea of dogs. I'm so lucky to have such a good cat, that can travel contently, wait around all day, doesn't mind loud noises (I think the music gets louder every year!), doesn't mind strangers petting her...actually, she loves competing! She loves having people come up and pet her, scratch her chin, tell her how pretty she is. She certainly doesn't mind being around all the dogs. Although she was really interested in the little Schnauzer. She really wanted to jump down and play with him.
I'm going to take a break from my Feeling Hot series, which I think I'll repost and then actually finish next Spring.
My local readers probably already know this, but I've left my job at AVC in Reisterstown. I'm ecstatic about this. While I met many, many wonderful kitties and their people, that job was destroying me, increasingly quickly. Having been free for almost a month, I can tell you I feel like a brand new person.
Unfortunately, I did leave behind an excellent cat grooming void. I believe AVC has someone grooming cats, but I know nothing about her or her skill. I can only recommend my friend and fellow CFMG, Anne Kennedy, as well as CFMG Betsy Spicer. You can go to the NCGIA website to get their information. (There's a bright yellow box on the right hand side of the page "Find a Groomer Near You".)
I do miss my old favorites and regulars already! Good luck and many purrs!
Last week I moved to Horsham, PA, to start a brand new position at Robbye's Gentle Groomers. Promptly got sick and have been limping along. Luckily I'm almost over this cold, just in time for Hershey Groom Expo!
I'll be sure to update soon and share my newest adventures. Now I think it's time for some more cold medicine and another nap!
It occurred to me the other day that I should have named these posts FELINE Hot, Hot, Hot. Too bad I'm only witty in hindsight! Oh well. Let's get right to the cat grooming, shall we?
Probably the most iconic feline grooming style is the Lion Clip. The body is taken very short, leaving a mane, long legs and either the tail is left natural or clipped short, expect for a puff at the very end. Our little domestic kitties do look a little like little lions! It's a cute clip, although it can be shocking for the owner to see the first time.
As with most things, there are some distinct pros and cons to the Lion Clip. Lion Clips are an excellent no-to-low maintenance style. I recommend a regular schedule of every 12 weeks. If your cat gets greasy, flaky, itchy or just kinda funky, a good bath and blow dry in between is always encouraged. Since the coat is so short, an 'in between' bath is quick and often at a lower price, as there's just not nearly as much to wash and dry. (This may depend on your groomer, and be aware some do have minimum charges, especially housecall or mobile.) A Lion Clip can be done more frequently, it's entirely up to the owner and feline!
This style is the ultimate in keeping shedding to a minimum. Of course, the cat will continue to shed, but the hairs will be super short.
There are some cats that I believe don't like having a lot of hair. My own cat, Sara, is one. She hates having hair! And when it gets about 1/2 inch long, she will start pulling it out. She clearly is uncomfortable and annoyed. Even with regular baths to prevent mats, tangles, fleas and itchies, she just doesn't like the hair. When I clip her, she is like a whole new cat. She's super affectionate, incredibly playful, wants to interact, wants to hang out...actually, she gets pretty annoying! Many of my clients report the same change in behavior. Their kitties are suddenly wanting to be pet, wanting to be with them, wanting to cuddle. How great is that?!
Mischief LOVES her Lion Clip
Her owner tells me for the first time in the 10+ years they've owned her
she's friendly and affectionate
To keep her new purrsonality, Mischief gets a clip every 8-10 weeks
Lion Clips are also an easy way to prevent mats. The shorter the hair, the less likely it is to tangle. It's not impossible, so pay attention to your cat! Short hair can mat, felt and pelt if the conditions are right.
If the matting has already gotten out of control, a Lion Clip is NECESSARY to remove it. After enough matting is in the coat, it becomes CRUEL and INHUMANE to try and comb them out. I capitalize these words, because they're important. Mats hurt. Removing them can hurt. It's not fair to cause a cat pain because of neglect. It's also not fair to cause even more pain because the owner "likes it fluffy" or doesn't want it clipped.
The only way to fix this is a Lion Clip!
(See how pink and irritated the skin is? Ouch.
His fluff will grow back
He's feeling a lot better, but you can still see how painful the matting was
For cats that have issues with hairballs, a Lion Clip is a good way to prevent them. Besides finding glops of hairy puke on your floor (bed, stairs, sofa...) or having to listen to a cat retch, hairballs can also do considerable internal damage. Sometimes it becomes necessary to remove lodged hairballs from the intestinal tract. This requires surgery and is expensive! If hairballs are a reoccurring problem, they can cause internal scarring, making it more likely for problems in the future. This is a scary, expensive road to go down, and can be avoided by a simple shave!
No more hairballs for KC
And let's face it, Lion Clips can be fun! Some people simply like the look. And that's okay! I've read plenty of articles shaming people for wanting to have their kitties clipped. And I really don't understand it. I think your cat is your cat, and if you like it in a Lion Clip, more power to you! Enjoy your cat.
One way to add some flair is a fun tail design. Harry sports a ribbon tail. It takes a few extra minutes, but it looks really cool! I've found if an owner is unsure how they'll like the look, doing something special with the tail can change their minds. It distracts them from how different their cats looks and gives them something to focus on.
Harry's snazzy Ribbon Tail
If your cat is inclined, and your groomer able, you can have some fun with your Lion Clip. Recently, I clipped an Elder Sign onto Sara's back. Why? I guess I was feeling a little unsafe. It was quick and easy to do and fun to look at later. Especially a few days later when my husband had his gaming night. It's important to have a theme and stick with it!
(just ignore the orange...leftovers from another creative clip)
Finally, there's heat and fleas. If your cat has a thick coat, even regular baths and comb outs might not be enough to keep him comfortable when it gets hot and humid. An indoor cat can benefit from a Lion Clip to help him stay cool in the summer. Harry (shown above) gets a Lion Clip each summer to beat the heat!
Sometimes a Lion Clip is recommended if fleas are a problem. The only real reason for this is that it makes it easier for the owner to see the fleas, which could otherwise hide in a long or thick coat. Fleas feed on your cat's blood, so clipping off their coat won't get rid of them. Fleas can happily live on a shaved cat. A Lion Clip will only make them more visible. If your kitty has fleas, consult with your vet and local CFMG for advice. A combination of medication, grooming, preventatives and major housecleaning are in order!
Fleas...so many fleas!
This has gotten a bit longer than expected, so I'll wrap up Lion Clips with some of the cons soon.
Here in Maryland, as in most parts of the country, it's about a billion degrees. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but the Weather Channel tells me that it's 93 degrees and 52% humidity and it feels like 103! Toasty!
A comb clip helps Hank stay cool as a cucumber and Hairball free. Look at his smug kitty face, he knows it!
It's very important to make sure all living beings, cats, dogs, horses, humans, bunnies, etc, etc, etc, have access to live saving things like Shelter and Fresh Water. These hot days can easily take the lives of our beloved friends and family, no matter how many legs they have. Check out these tips from Pet Finder and the ASPCA.
I'm blanking on this cat's name, but he's the perfect example for today's post. There are a variety of ways professional grooming can help keep your cat cool. Over the next week or so, I'm going to share with you 3 major ways to help keep your cat comfortable and happy during these hot summer days.
Let's start with the Comb Clip. Comb Clips are an all over haircut in which a skilled cat groomer can leave the hair up to about an inch all over. Think of it as a teddy clip, or kitten clip. This is perfect for someone that doesn't want to have their cat in full coat, but also doesn't want the "naked" look of a full Lion Clip. Most Comb Clips I do are about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch which tends to look the nicest. It's plush and fuzzy with little maintenance required.
Now, the one drawback of the Comb Clip is that it tends to live little lines in the coat, like corduroy. Because cats can not be scissored smooth like dogs, the groomer and owner need to accept that the coat will not immediately look perfectly smooth. Luckily, unlike dogs, with cats those lines soften in a week or so and everything smooths out quickly. As a perfectionist, this is hard for me to accept! I do my best to clip carefully and prevent those lines, but they happen. Depending on the coat type, a shorter or longer length will reduce lines, but it takes a bit of playing around to find the sweet spot. Hank, shown above sports a 3/4" Comb Clip year round.
Back to our mystery cat, whom I think I'll nickname Tom. Tom has a super thick, plush coat. You can see he's got some dandruff plus a lot of loose, shedding hairs sitting on top. He's also toting around dead hair packed in his coat, among the live, healthy hair. Tom is HOT. Cat's need to have all that dead undercoat removed to keep their coat functioning as it should. Hair is an insulator, and helps cool the animal, but only if air can move freely. Not possible with packed or dead hair sitting there.
Tom is an indoor/outdoor cat. His owner is friends and neighbors with one of my regular clients, and finally decided to take the plunge and get him professionally groomed. (See how I can remember his story and talking with his owner, but can not remember his name? Frustrating!) She hoped it would help him stay cool and comfortable this summer.
After his bath and blow dry, he's what we have. That dead coat has been combed out. Man, his coat is plush! This picture was hard to take, because Tom was loving his grooming! Middle aged cat, never groomed before, and he loved every minute of it!
He spent most of the time rubbing against me, purring and blinking happily at me. What a wonderful cat! Such a pleasure to work with.
After his 3/4" clip. Doesn't he look just like a stuffed toy? I think this was the perfect length for him. It blended well with the shorter hair on his thighs and shoulders. Tom seemed pretty happy with his new look and his owner loved it. I even got a hug!
Now, besides the aesthetic appeal of the Comb Clip, the benefits are many. First, this is a much easier coat to maintain than a full, natural coat. That means minimal work at home, reducing the need means the owner and cat can enjoy their at home grooming sessions, rather than see them as a necessary struggle.
Secondly, this is the ideal clip for a cat that goes outside. A full coat easily tangles and mats. Plus it tends to catch every dead leaf, burrs, mulch, and other gross outdoor things. If objects do catch in a Comb Clip, they are much easier to remove.
The Comb Clip offers protection from the sun, preventing sunburn. Believe it or not, cats can sunburn! They can also get skin cancer. While there are pet sunscreens, they're not safe for cats, because they'll lick it and ingest it. Never use human sunscreen on kitties!
The Comb Clip allows the coat to function properly as an insulator, keeping kitty cool.
I wish I had gotten a few more pictures of Tom. He's a pretty cool cat and I really enjoyed grooming him. I know I'll see him again, and that makes me happy. I'll see if I can't look in my records and find his real name!