Friday, July 29, 2011

Chessie Cats

When I was younger, we had a pretty little tortoiseshell cat named Chessie, after the sleepy train mascot. Since then, I always think of torties as being called Chessie.

I can't remember her name
she's  Chessie to me

This pretty little cat, whose name honestly escapes me because I called her nothing but Chessie while I groomed her, is an older lady in her late teens. 

very matted! 
in fact, it's starting to peel away 

Because of her age and condition in general, I was concerned when she came in panting slightly and drooling. Panting is a Very Bad Thing for cats. It usually means they're overly stressed, and in cats, that can actually be fatal. 

Once I saw how matted this lovely little cat was I had a hunch that not only was she stressed from being caught, captured and carried to the vet, but by her own coat! Ever wear a heavy sweater that's a little bit too tight? It gets hot, it's itchy and suddenly you can't get it off! It's unbearably hot and itchy and your arms are stuck and it's twisting around your torso. You start to panic as it rolls around your neck and head and all you can think is GET IT OFF! 

I don't really like sweaters. Or turtlenecks. And I'm sure I'm not the only one that's ever gotten trapped in a shirt!

Imagine living in a tight sweater that you can't take off. Does it make you feel hot and itchy and sweaty just thinking about it? 

I began to groom Chessie, keeping a very close eye on her breathing and heart rate. She grumbled and growled a bit. Some of the matting was tight to her skin, and tricky to remove. The skin underneath was red and angry looking from the constant pulling and irritation caused by the matting. Ouch!

ugh - imagine that covering your body!

Once the large matted area was removed from her back, everything else clipped off rather easily. Chessie stopped grumbling at me. She stopped drooling. And best of all, she stopped panting! She enjoyed a soothing bubbly Medacetic bath and by the time she was bathed and dried the angry red patches of skin had returned to normal, happy skin. Best of all, Chessie was a happy kitty. She purred, she flicked her tail around in a sassy-cat manner and flopped happily on the grooming table. 

pretty and happy
and just a little bit sassy!

I told her owners about the health risk a poorly maintained coat had caused their elderly kitty and that regular grooming (with me, of course!) would prevent the build of matting and discomfort. They were unaware that their cat was so stressed by her condition. Like most people, they avoided professional grooming because it represented a lot of stress to their cat. The catching, the crate, the car trip, and then the grooming itself. They wanted to avoid that stress for their cat. But they never considered the every day stress she had because of her poor coat condition. It's a common mis-thought, and one that can be corrected easily. 

quiet contemplation

No matter how hard we strive to making the grooming experience a pleasant one, it's no secret that grooming can be stressful for your cat. Since cats are not able to groom themselves effectively, they do need human help! The best way to reduce the stress of grooming for your kitty is to maintain regular grooming appointments with a skilled cat groomer. Of course, I think Certified Feline Master Groomers are the best. 

Keeping your cat in good shape makes grooming easier for them. The process goes much faster and avoids aggravating and stress inducing things like dematting and pelt removal - no fun for kitties or groomers. If your cat is already matted, don't be embarrassed to bring them in! Let a skilled groomer give you and your cat the chance to start over. I always tell people, "I never judge by the first time. The third or fourth though..!"

A good groom can reduce the amount of home care you'll need to do to maintain that perfect, healthy coat. Your groomer will be able to tell you how often a professional groom should be done, and what kind of at home care is needed. Most of my customers don't need to do any home brushing or combing at all! They can just enjoy their cat. Isn't that what it's all about?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Adventures in Not Cats! (sort of)

I have some exciting news! Recently I entered a cupcake decorating contest held by, one of the big grooming community websites. The deal was to decorate a cupcake or batch of cupcakes related to pet grooming. So of course I choose cat grooming! And...

my cupcakes won!

cat grooming, as told through cupcakes

the clippers were a huge hit!

scrub-a-dub-dub, kittehs in the tub!

This was a ton of fun for me! I love to bake, I love to do creative things. It's actually really hard for me to come up with ideas, but once I get started..! I have to admit, I didn't practice at all. Execution of my designs weren't quite what I hoped. Not to say I'm not happy with my cupcakes, I am! I think they turned out pretty darn well. Maybe next year I'll do a practice batch, though. You can view all the entries here. Thanks to and everyone who entered!

In addition to that excitement, I had submitted some before and after pictures of cats I've groomed to Petedge, one of the major pet grooming suppliers. They have a blog and in addition to posts about equipment, techniques and other great information, they do groomer showcases. A few weeks ago they did a spotlight on cat grooming. Neat! 

Naturally, I got really excited about this and sent in a ton of pictures and stories. I may have felt the need to apologize for how much I sent in! Someone from Petedge contacted me and said they loved my submission and I would definitely be in the Showcase. Yeah! 

Imagine my disappointment when Groomer's Showcase Cat Edition was published and I was most definitely NOT included. I was crushed. So I checked my email to see if maybe PE had sent me an explanation. 

Did they ever! 
Hi Beth,

I just wanted to drop you a note to say that we loved your information and
pictures so much that we're planning on featuring you in a separate Groomer
Showcase article in about a week.

We'll let you know when it goes live ;) Thank you again!

Well, shucks. I can't complain about that! A few more emails back and forth and my feature was posted yesterday.

I'm a bit flabbergasted. What an honor to be featured by such a huge part of the pet grooming industry! I know I've put in a lot of work, blood, sweat and tears (sooo many tears!) into my career as a groomer, in particular, as a cat specialist, but I feel so lucky to have great things like this happen. I never would be where I am today without the National Cat Groomer's Institute of America and having become a CFMG. And for sure without my fabulous customers! Many of my clients tell me how happy they are that they've found me, and the difference I've made in their lives, simply by grooming their cat. Grooming is about more than a paycheck for me, so it's incredible and humbling to hear the stories some of my customers tell me. A huge thank you to all of you that allow me to groom your cats! I love it! 

And huge thanks to those that support and encourage the grooming industry! This week I'm especially grateful to Petedge, and the NCGIA, for all the opportunity and support these companies provide not only for me, but for professional groomers, pet owners and everyone in between. Thanks!!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Barn Kitties

I've been grooming a bunch of barn cats recently. Now, when I say "barn cat", I mean the cats that happen to live in a barn. They're social and friendly, they just don't live in a house. I don't mean the cat that's feral and no one ever sees, let alone can touch.

I groomed two of the cats from the farm I work at. Both are short haired kitties. Neither one had been off the farm in years and years. So what do I do? I packed them in a crate, drove them to a strange place in my car and gave them many, many baths. And hand dried them with a high velocity dryer. And clipped their nails, and cleaned their ears. And combed out mats and tangles.

And how did these never-off-the-farm barn kitties react? With purrs and happy eyes! I wish so much that I had gotten pictures. The dramatic change in color and appearance was incredible. Plus, they loved it! Best of all, Princess is no longer miserable on these hot, hot days, and Boo-tiful Kitty is no longer pulling big chunks of hair out. Their owner (my boss!) is thrilled.

She told me, "I hate to spend money on things I don't need, but I believe those cats NEEDED it. I'm really glad I had you groom them."

To be honest, I'd been lusting after the idea of grooming them as long as I've worked there! I was so happy to finally get the opportunity to help those cats feel good and look amazing. I just wish I had pictures!

Sir Fancy Pants
Plucked out of a horse stall, ready for grooming!

This is Sir Fancy Pants. He's a Blue Point Himalayan that just showed up at my in law's barn. He's a very nice cat, reserved, but dignified. He seems very "British" to me, so I asked my husband to help me come up with a name. "Fancy Pants" is a bit too silly for him, but it stuck.

he looks so mean, doesn't he?

To be honest, I spent months laughingly saying he was the ugliest cat I'd ever seen. Then I spent a couple late nights caring for my sick horse. And Sir was a delightful companion. He sat next to me, he allowed me to pet and cuddle him. But he never demanded attention, and seemed to enjoy having someone to sit next to at 1, 3, 5 am. So I thought, maybe if someone groomed him, he wouldn't be so ugly.

Months passed, and he started licking out big chunks of hair. I treated him for fleas, checked him for skin conditions, didn't see cause of the great hair removal.

face is much softer and rounder
now he looks more cuddly and less scary

One day I brought him in, trimmed up his face, gave him a lion clip and a good bath. Reserved Sir Fancy Pants is no longer quite so reserved. Now when he sees people, he jumps up and runs over to say hi. He follows us around. He's not demanding as some cats are, but he wants to be with people and isn't afraid to let you know! This often happens when cats are groomed. Suddenly they seem to want to be part of the family and in the middle of things. Some cats become more playful. It's like when the drab nerdy girl from the movies gets a make over. They look better, they feel better.

still concerned about being "trapped"
but he's already feeling better

Sir was an interesting groom. He Did Not want to be confined. He was panicky when I got too hands on in holding him during grooming. When I clipped, say, his back, he was great. If he laid on his side, he was fine. Just when I had to touch him and hold him in place. So I tried to be as hands off as possible and didn't nit pick his groom to perfection. I only took a few After pictures.

I plan to bring Sir in for a bath soon. His Lion Clip has grown out quite a bit. No more aggressive licking, so I guess he was just bothered by his hair collecting everything in the barn! I think with a few more grooms he'll lose the panic and become comfortable with me handling him during grooming.

The one thing with barn cats is they are generally in the most need of care, but the least likely to receive it. Not many people are willing or able to spend money on vet care and grooming for a cat they probably didn't intend to have (most barn cats are dumped there or similarly acquired), is unlikely to stay at the farm, and is likely to get killed or simply disappear. Unfortunately, barn kitties are probably more likely to contract disease or get injured than house cats. And they have the same grooming needs as any cat, plus the need to remove debris and other junk from their coat. They are also more likely to become aggressive during grooming and more ready to fight about, since their reflexes are more honed than your average house cat.

These couple of barns I groomed recently were all fabulous for their much needed groomings. I'm so happy to have brought out the happier, more outgoing cat that was lurking inside!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More Itty Bitty Himmis!

she did not want to look at the camera. Did Not.

This is Mia, she came to visit me awhile ago. She's adorable! and I loved every minute of grooming her. She had actually been groomed the month before, but the owner was unhappy with the results.

doesn't she look like she's wearing chaps? 

To be fair, I think this was a case of the groomer being too literal in his interpretations of the owner's instructions. I imagine they went something like, "shave body, leave legs and head long". And that's more or less what he did.

 Mia was kinda camera shy, but she has a BIG honkin' mane left, and lots of fluffy tail. And of course, her face is untrimmed and wild.

Her owner didn't like how short she had been done originally, but liked the length she had grown out to. All I needed to do was even her out and correct the style.

the correct facial styling really opens up the eyes
and reveals her sweet expression 

There we go. One length all over, nice and smooth. Scraggly legs fixed. Mane clipped much closer to her head. Face styled. Knowing how to groom a face to breed standard makes a world of difference! I'm still figuring out how to shape cheeks. Getting better all the time! At least...I hope I am!