Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shed Happens

Spring is here! It's been unseasonably warm here in Maryland and it feels like we never really had a winter. But most of our furry friends grew in a nice winter coat just in case. And with the exception of today and yesterday, it's been almost hot for several weeks. That means us people are ditching our sweatshirts and coats and our kitties (dogs, ponies, bunnies, etc) are trying to ditch their winter coats as well.

Cookie is SO EXCITED Springtime Shedding is here
So. Excited.

Now. Cats have hair. Generally speaking, hair grows to a genetically determined length and then it falls out. That's why short haired animals seem to shed WAY more than long haired. That short coat grows in very quickly and then it's done. Falls out so the next hair can grow in. Yes, this is a very simplified explanation, but I'm a cat groomer, not a scientist. Sadly, it took about 25 years for me to realize science is awesome, but that's another story. Anyway, cats are always shedding. Shedding hair, shedding skin cells. That's one of the reason regular grooming is so, so important. This constant growth and loss can make a real mess of things if the shedding hair gets trapped with the growing hair, whether it's old hair and new hair getting tangled together  or body oils, saliva or other gunk causing the hair to stick together. These are two examples of why/how mats are formed. 

That got wordy. The point is, it's shedding season! And what happens when cats shed out their winter (or summer!) coats?

Excessive shedding - gross!

Also Gross

Now, regular grooming ( I recommend 6-8 weeks for long coated cats and 8-12 weeks for short coated cats. One average, some cats need to come in much sooner, some can go longer.) prevents most of your usual cat problems. Don't take my word for it, ask my regular customers! But even on a regular schedule, seasonal shedding can get a little out of control. 

Shedding season is happening right now! Put down your vacuum cleaners and Swiffers. It's way easier to have a fabulous cat groomer groom your cat than to do all that extra housework. Plus you get a clean, snuggly soft kitty!

Cookie the Scottish Fold (minus the fold)
After Grooming

After a Professional Groom

Ash. Some mats, some excessive shedding.

This gorgeous cat came in to see me recently. A young cat, I think Ash is just a year or two old. His owner loves his soft, silky coat and told me they thought it was more like rabbit fur than cat hair. He had some tangles, but nothing major and all underneath. I suggested a Full Belly Clip in addition to his Full Coat Groom. This translates to a nose to tail bath (multiple shampoos! Running water! A real bath, no "waterless shampoo" nonsense here!), blow dry, comb out, finishing spray, nail trim, ears wiped, and clipping his armpits, belly, inner thigh/groin area and just under the tail. The Full Belly Clip helps prevent mats and lessens how much brushing his owner needs to do. So that was our plan.

Then she mentioned he was shedding and maybe they should clip him short for the summer. 

Guys. I totally don't mind if you wand your cats shaved. I don't. That is 100% up to you, after all, it's your cat and you live with it and I don't. 

But if you ask me my opinion, I will give it to you.

And she asked what I thought. So I told her. Ash is gorgeous. He has a lovely coat. It's pretty, it's soft and it's shiny. Or would be, once he was groomed. Clearly, his owner loved his coat as well. And I'm sure that's one of the reasons why they got him. So I told her that if it was my cat, I would do the Full Coat Groom and Full Belly Clip. Keep his lovely coat. That shedding can be minimized with regular grooming. And if they really didn't like it or thought he was shedding too much, we could always do a Lion Clip later. But if were up to me, I'd keep his coat.

oh la. The things I put up with!

So that's what we did. I truly hope his owner is happy with staying in full coat. I think he's simply fabulous. I wish you could feel him! I promise you that those last two pictures are of the same cat. Isn't the difference amazing? Look at his stripes! 

Mackeral Tabby Stripes
now visible thanks to a good grooming

Of course, had his owner decided on the Lion Clip, I would have done it. Like I said, it's not my cat that I have to live with. I want the owner to get the haircut they want for their cat. But if you ask me what I would do...or leave the decision up to me, I'm gonna do what makes me happy. And keeping Ash in coat definitely made me happy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Spring!

Spring is here and the Himalayans are in bloom...

Tomorrow is the first day of Spring! I've been enjoying springtime weather for the past few weeks. Enjoying the heck out of it! I'll get a real post up soon (about shedding) but right now I'm going to take Haiku for a walk with my friend and her little dog. Hooray for Spring!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Being Sensible

Remember waaaay back to last summer when I first groomed the ever lovely Lily? Remember that I thought her name was Mia? Yeah, sometimes I make stuff up. I'm also convinced my boss' cat is named Jack. It's not. I'm just so sure that it is! Anyway, little Lily is, in fact, Lily, and I need to go back and fix her name in that post.

Lily last Spring

Now, I've groomed Lily since last year, and she's just a lovely little cat. But the very last time I groomed her, I wasn't happy with the results. She turned out 'alright'. I don't know if I didn't bathe her as well as I could have, or it was that she cage dried too long, or she was just having a bad hair day. In case you haven't noticed, "alright" isn't good enough for me. But Lily had also been boarding with us for awhile and she wasn't the happiest cat. Rather than stress her out with more grooming, I let her be. 

But I was determined that I next time I groomed her, she would be Perfection Itself! So I waited, and plotted, and planned. I tried to figure out what went wrong and how to change it. I decided it was a combination of not the best bath and not the best drying technique. After some plumbing work was done, I realized it may have had something to do with our water. My cats were turning out even nicer than usual - with less work. Love it!

I waited a long time for Lily to come back. Her family had something going on and weren't able to get her in. I was thrilled when she came back in. I was going to give her the best groom. Ever! I spent extra time shampooing her. Making sure she was degreased. Making sure every inch was cleansed and massaged and rinsed. I fully hand dried her. And I realized she was matted. Not very badly, but she had a lot of little mats and tangles all throughout her coat. So I set about combing them out, one little tangle at a time. 

bathed, dematted, combed out...
and ready for a trim?

Lily is a really nice little cat. She doesn't mind being groomed at all. She enjoys being handled and loved on. But I had been working on her for awhile. Longer than ever before. And I did not want to ruin her good nature with a long, arduous groom. I had a choice. I could continue on and clip her, adding even more time to our grooming session and risk annoying her...or I could be done. She was clean, tangle free and gorgeous. Her face was trimmed and she had a sanitary clip. I know her owner would be happy to take her home just as she was. I mean, who wouldn't? I'd take her home in a heartbeat!

So I called up her owner and explained the situation. She knew Lily's condition had gotten a little out of hand and easily understood that the extra time and effort to de-tangle could be rough on a cat. We quickly agreed that Lily would stay in full coat for a few more weeks. Her owner would enjoy having a fluffy cat to snuggle with and Lily would enjoy not being pushed past her comfort zone, time-wise. And I enjoyed having completed a beautiful groom, a lovely kitty and an owner that cared about her. 

Himalayan Perfection!

I took Lily with me when I called her owner. It seemed easier than putting her in a cage...then having to take her back out...so much extra work! Plus it meant I could cuddle a soft, snuggley kitty. Lily had the tip of her tongue sticking out the entire time. Everyone admired her. My co workers, other pet owners, everyone enjoyed seeing such a pretty cat. She got a lot of attention while I made that phone call! Just as a beautiful cat should!

notice the squinty eye?

You may have noticed Lily is squinting. She also got to visit the vet after her grooming. I don't remember what was wrong, but she had mild eye ailment. When I carried her over for the examination, the doctor was amazed at how plush Lily was and said, "I wish my cat felt like this!" She then very kindly made an extra effort to keep the eye stains and drops in her eyes, instead of what most often happens with cats and eye drops, which is it getting everywhere. I'm happy to report Lily went home without any medication on her lovely coat!