About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Continuing My Education...


Cat grooming.

I don't do a lot of cat grooming.

Oh, I love cats.
I have had cats all of my life.
I have baby pictures of myself with cats.
I own several cats now.

But grooming them...that is a whole other story.

The grooming school that I went to did not teach much on cat grooming.
I can only remember bathing two cats.
Both were short hair cats that were in for flea baths and Dips.

There I go, telling my age again.
Grooming School for me was way back before any kind of topical, or internal flea products.
That dip was nasty stuff.
God only knows what it was doing to my liver and kidneys.
Reading the warnings on those Dip bottles was enough to make you quit grooming.
They still make and sell Flea Dip, and I am sure that there are a lot of groomers out there that still use the stuff.
I won't touch it with a 10 foot pole.

Okay, I got off track, back to cat grooming.

As I said before, I learned how to give a cat a flea bath at least.
I learned one other thing about Cat grooming in Grooming School...what to do when a cat has a reaction to Flea Dip.

After I graduated Grooming School I was asked to stay on and groom the dogs that students were not able to get to during school hours.
I came into work one day, only to find out that both the beginning and advanced grooming teachers had quit over night, I was asked to take over the beginning grooming classes.

Looking back at it now, I probably should have never accepted that job.
After all, I had only graduated a couple of months before this.
I was so tickled at the time that the owner of the school had asked me to take over those beginner classes.
I was too naive, or just too dumb to realize that the schools owner was in a bind, with both of her teachers quitting at the same time, that I was the easiest replacement for her. (she took over teaching the advanced class)

Got off track again. :/

Anyway, one day I was showing the new grooming students how to bathe and Flea Dip a cat.
Everything was going great.
The cat was so good.
I poured the Dip all over her and then put her in a kennel.

Then it happened.

That sweet calm cat suddenly went nuts, crazy, berserk.
She was in a wire kennel and she suddenly started climbing the walls of the kennel, screaming.

I did not know what was going on, or what to do.
I grabbed the phone and called over to the schools office across the street.
The owner answered and told me to quickly rinse the Dip off of the cat after I told her what was going on.
She also told me that she would be right over.

I hung up the phone and grabbed the crazed cat out of the kennel.
With horrified grooming students gathered around the tub, I started rinsing the Dip off of the cat.
The cat almost immediately relaxed and became calm.
The whole time I was rinsing the cat, all I could think was; 'where the he** is the owner of the school?'

Once the cat was all rinsed, I wrapped it in a towel and turned away from the tub.
Standing in the bathing room doorway, with her arms folded and her shoulder leaning against the frame of the door, was the owner of the school.
I can still remember that stupid grin that she had on her face.
"I knew you could handle it," she told me.
"The cat just had a reaction to the Dip," she continued.
"All you had to do was rinse the Dip off."

Now, I have to admit that I am very good under stress.
It is after it is all over that I start to shake and feel like I am going to fall apart.
I was so angry.
How could she be so nonchalant about what just happened.
I was never taught what to do in a situation like that!
What if she hadn't been there? (which she wasn't a lot of the time)
What if the cat had not calmed down?
What if the cat had hurt itself while in the kennel?
What if I had not been able to get a hold of the cat again to rinse it off?

She thought that I was making too big of a deal about it.
I quit soon after this.

After that I refused to Dip anymore cats.
I still groomed them.
I still gave flea bathes.
I read books and taught myself how to groom cats.
I taught myself how to clip them also.
I did an okay job.
But, I didn't really have that many requests for cat grooming.

Eventually, I stopped doing clips on cats.
I would comb out and bath, but I left clipping to other groomers.

Then one day the local cat Vet called to ask if they could send their cat customers to us for grooming, because their groomer quit.
We told them that we did not clip cats but that we would take bathes and comb outs.

Good grief, I never expected all the calls that we got.
After while we had to start turning some away.

Then the day came that a black and white domestic medium length hair cat came in for a comb out.
The cat was great.
He just lay on my table and let me comb and brush all of his dead coat out.
He looked really nice when I was finished.
He never got upset.
He never growled.
He never flattened his ears back in anger.
His tail never did that angry twitch that they do when they are getting pissed.

I picked him up to carry him out to his owner, who had been waiting in my lobby.
I was almost to the grooming room door when...chomp!

That calm, sweet cat just nonchalantly bent his head and his nice dirty kitty cat teeth sank into my forearm.
Not once.
Not twice.
Three times in quick succession.
The problem was that the cat did not just rapidly bite and move away, but after the last bite, he stayed locked on my arm.

What did I do?
I waited.
I waited for him to release my arm.
I could not pull my arm away, because the bite would have turned into a rip.

After what seemed like forever, but was in actuality only a minute or two, he calmly let go of my arm.
Unbelievably, this cat still did not appear to be mad or upset in any way, other than he just tried to eat me alive. 
I took the cat out to his owner and informed her that her cat had bitten me.
She was more upset that I must have done something to make the cat bite me, then the fact that the cat had bitten me.

I went straight to the tub and started to squeeze the bite, like I do whenever a dog bites, to get out as much dirty blood and flush the bite.
Not one of those three deep cat bites bled.
I could not get one drop of blood out of any of them.
Not good.
Really not good!

I cleaned the bite as best that I could.
When I got up the next day the bites were red.
By that afternoon the red around the bites was moving up my arm.
After I finished my last dog of the day, half of my arm was red.
 I went to the ER.

Needless to say, I got a good talking to from the Doctor for waiting so long to come in, and a lot of antibiotics.
I got something else also.
A little fear.
A little nibble of fear that always seems to pop up now when I am working on a cat.
Maybe it is because that cat never showed any signs of getting ready to do what he did.

The fear has not stopped me from grooming cats, although we did call the cat Vet and ask them to stop sending cats to us at the time.

I don't like that nibble of fear being there.
I always work through it, but it is still there.

Friday I had a Ragdoll cat come in to get a few small mats removed from her belly.

Well, that was what the owner said when she called and asked to bring the cat over.

The cats owner also has a Bichon that I groom regularly.

Don't let this picture fool you, she is a very sweet cat, she just does not care to be brushed.

Unfortunately, a few little mats turned out to be one giant, tight mat that ran from between the cats front legs all of the way down to her belly and between her back legs.

Cat skin always seems like tissue paper to me.

It is so easily nicked.
Once nicked, that tiny nick can run like a women's nylon.

Needless to say, I am not crazy about shaving a cat.

The mat was so tight to this cats skin.

She was being so wonderful just laying there on her side, letting me clip.

I clipped and clipped.

So slowly.

Keeping a watchful eye out for those little, ity, bity, teeny, weeny kitty nipples that were hiding under those tight mats.

It wasn't the prettiest shaved kitty belly, but nothing was nicked, she was now mat free, and she was starting to get a little pissed with the whole process.

 It took me about 20 minutes to clip that belly.

It seemed way too long, but I was purposely going very slowly.

As I said before, I am self taught when it comes to grooming cats.

I would like to learn more and better.

I would also like to get rid of that nagging nibble of fear.

I would love to take the cat grooming course at the National Cat Groomers Institute.
I feel that it would give me much more confidence when it came to grooming cats.

The problem?

It is a two week course.
Two weeks away from my shop.
Two weeks of no pay.
Not to mention the cost of tuition and staying at a hotel for two weeks.

I wish that I was young again.
Without the responsibilities of a family and a business.
When you could leave home for two weeks to further your education.

I am not going to give up.
I am going to keep looking into it.
I would love to have CFMG behind my name.
I would love to get rid of that little nibble of fear.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Hi Lisa,

    I work at the vet and we get many cats, most of them for clips. A few were for baths and brush outs. Most of those who get clipped are sedated because they are nuts. Quite a number of them would hiss at you even if you so much as walk in front of their kennels. Luckily for me the job of getting the crazy cats out of the kennels to get sedated fall onto the nurses.

    One day a long-haired young cat (about a year old) came in for a bath and brush out. It had been bathed twice before without sedation and the notes of the previous groomer said that it was not impressed with the grooming but never attacked.
    So i took the cat out of the cage. Take the brush out and let the cat inspect it. I started brushing its back. Five strokes of the brush and... SWIPE SWIPE SWIPE. Scratches on my face. No warning whatsoever.

    Since then I refused to groom an unsedated cat without a nurse holding the cat, no matter how the owner would say that it is a placid cat.

    I like cats well enough, but hate grooming them.


    1. Hi Ana,
      I think that that is the thing that I fear the most...are the cats that show no signs of what they are about to do.
      I feel that the school could teach me how to better deal with and handle those situations. :)
      I am so sorry that that cat got you in the face. Cat scratches can be awful. You must do whatever you can to protect yourself.
      Lisa, MFF

  2. I used to do cats, but not anymore - they just aren't worth the risk. The last cat I ever groomed was about 19 and matted to the skin. The vet had refused to shave the cat, saying it should be put down instead. I have NO idea why I agreed to shave that cat. I guess because it needed it SO badly.

    Long story short, I wound up cutting the cat AND it bit me. I decided right then and there that it wasn't worth the risk. I was an independent contractor at the time without even health insurance, much less worker's comp, so I didn't want to risk being bitten again, and the owners of the shop I worked at were willing to pay vet bills for dogs but not cats.

    Anyway, that was probably 2 years ago, and I don't miss cats one bit!

    1. Hi Jen,
      Good grief. One of the first cats that I groomed after grooming school was an 18 year old Siamese cat that 'talked' very loudly the entire time I was bathing him. At one point I bent over the tub to talk to him and he bit me on the very end of my nose. One of his fang teeth going right up into one of my nostrils. Boy, did that hurt. He did not break skin, or miss a beat with his meowing. I groomed him three times while working at that pet shop and every time I was scared to death he was going to pass away while he was being groomed. That was back when I didn't know how to say 'no' to anyone about grooming. :/
      Lisa, MFF

  3. HI! I love reading your posts and had to comment on this one! I went to cat school at 50 years old. It's doable! You will have to work a little harder when you get back but it is soooo worth it! You will feel like a new person and so proud of yourself after you graduate!
    Just figure out when you are going and book around those dates! The hotel, the room, the area and all the shops and restaurants to walk to, it was all wonderful I barely missed my home , dogs or hubby. Really!
    One of the top five experiences of my life!

    1. Hi,
      Wow! What a glowing endorsement. :)
      Thanks for the information. It is great to hear from someone who went to the school and is very happy with the results.
      I saw the school tour video and it looks like a great place to visit and learn. I wish that my Mother still lived close to that area. She used to live about 20 minutes away. That would have worked out great, but she lives in Tennessee now...oh well.
      Lisa, MFF

  4. Hey Lisa!

    Huge fan of your blog!

    I'm Lynn, one of the instructors at NCGIA. I attended their school almost 2 years ago while I was grooming at a vet in NJ. It made such a big difference in my confidence in grooming cats, it was unbelievable. So when they offered me a job a few months ago, I said yes and moved me, my boyfriend and my cat from NJ to SC. I love working with them, and I really believe in what they do and teach. NCGIA has a number of free webseminars (if you are a member, you can go back and listen to the ones that were recorded). We also have a 1-day workshop scheduled for July for those who aren't sure if this is something they want to do. We've also had some students who do 1 week at a time instead of 2 together. Hope to see you at the school! :)


    1. Hi Lynn,
      Thank you for commenting AND reading my blog! I really do believe that attending the school would make a great big difference. I believe hands on training makes all the difference in the world. I am not giving up. I have been doing the numbers and thinking about saving up all this year to attend next year.
      Thanks for the info. I will check into those webseminars.
      Lisa, MFF

  5. I had never groomed a cat in my whole 5 year career because my previous shop owner refused to do them for many reasons. So when I started my new job 8 months ago at a vet clinic and found out I would have to groom cats I was very scared. I received no training whatsoever being the only groomer there so I just kind of dsicovered how to do things on my own. Luckily I almost always have a bather/assistant there to scruff the cats for me they had been with the previous groomer as well so they gave me many tips on the cat behavior parts but not too much about the grooming part. I actually don't mind it but I have been spoiled with bathers that know what they are doing. They just scruff the cat and roll it on it's side making it much easier and safer with the skin being stretched makes it go by faster as well. I think I have only had to groom 2 cats under sedation. My manager is the crazy cat lady so whenever we get a cat that is too nuts she comes back and takes over with the handling part. She has the ability to make me feel safe and calm me down so we can get the job done without stressing the cat out. I have heard however that cat bites are one of the worst things to happen to any groomer.

    1. Hi Peggan,
      I had to clip a lot of sedated cats at the Vet that I worked for. That was were I taught myself to shave cats. I don't think that they really cared if I knew how or not, as long as I got the cat shaved. Clipping when sedated always made me feel like I was clipping a dead cat. :/
      I feel like the school could really help with different ways of handling the cats to make the grooming less stressful for both the cat and me. Thankfully you have 'the cat lady to help you. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  6. A great read! Another example of how ireland and the usa differs completely in grooming! I have been asked only twice in the last 3 years to groom a cat and both times refused, the main reason being I have zero training and have had minimal contact with cats in my life. The other reason is that fear you speak of, about how they can give no warning. At least with a dog you really only need to keep an eye on the mouth, with cats there are mouths and 4 bags of knives! Hopefully one day you can continue your training!
    I remember years ago at a dog show I was handling a Basenji, the voiceless dogs, and without warning at all, no sound or inclination he threw himself towards a person walking by in an attempt to maim him! Scary stuff and not suprisingly Basenjis are considered the most cat like dogs in nature!
    I was also meaning to ask you, but only if you have time to reply, i know how usy you are, how would you deal with a flea case in dogs generally? There is nothing worse than having dogs from different owners in my grooming room and discovering one has guests :/ the panic!

    1. Four bags of knives!! HaHahaha!!!

      Hi DJ,
      OMG that had me rolling on the floor. I never thought of it that way before. You are so right. Even when the nail are clipped, they can rip you apart.

      You must be reading my mind...I have a list on my desk of posts that I want to do in the next few days to a week. One of the subjects on the list is about flea bathes and dealing with fleas in your shop.
      I will be doing that post soon. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  7. I admire you for your self control over the cat dip situ , i think i would have dipped the boss's head after her blaze attitude ,
    goiing back to handling ; i started grooming cats ten years ago as here in the uk hardly anyone will .
    After many bites i have learned that there are four main tips to get out with your life and sanity whilst leaving a cat stress free as poss.they are keep the skin taught whilst clipping , use an oversized comfy cone vet collar to , prevent biting , some try to grab and bite the clippers so this helps then i use cohesive vet wrap for the feet to stop scratches and never blast a cat , wrap in towel for a few mins and then blow dry or cage dry on a liw setting with hardly any heat . . Hope this helps and keep up the great blog , love it . . . Thought i was the only one who thought like you do . . My fave phrase is " not like a poodle" lol how we hear this everyday :)

    1. Hi,
      "Dipping the bosses head" lol wish I had thought of that!

      Anyway, thank you for the good tips. I never thought about the Vet wrap, good idea, although it is the teeth that worry me the most. :)

      Thanks for reading my blog!
      Lisa, MFF

  8. I'm big on having a kitty assistant on hand.I've had 2 really bad bites both happened in the tub. one was in my wrist and damaged a nerve. took months before I had feeling back in my thumb. a doctor was amazed it healed that fast saying for every inch of nerve damage can take a year to heal. another cat gave no notice and chomped on my other thumb. he held on and ground his teeth. I was working at a vets then and required to leave imediatly and go to the doctor, who then sent me to the health dept for a tetnus shot and put me on antibiotics. in the 3 hours it took to get the shot my hand swole up like a balloon. I'll still do cats but I understand the fear but also can't no where near afford going to the school. I hope too but I know with a new baby I'm barley making it now. I do say if you can afford one the air muzzle is totally worth it if you do quite a few cats.

    1. Hi Taby,
      Sorry to hear about those bites. I am glad everything turned out okay.

      I hear you about not affording the school. I would have already taken the course if I had the money.

      I have checked out those air muzzles. They definitely look like a good idea. I personally think that they are way over priced, but I am sure worth it if you groom a lot of cats.
      Lisa, MFF