As cat groomers, we are always looking for ways to benefit the Whole Feline by being knowledgeable, skilled and conscientious. Those who are serious about running a successful and compassionate cat grooming business will have invested time and travel for study courses, testing, classes and seminars. Obtaining Certifications as a Master Cat Groomer with two leading national organizations has prepared me for this road less traveled.
However, it takes more than education to be successful in conducting a business that deals with living beings, as opposed to products. The most suited environment for this line of work is one that is peaceful and quiet, with proper and subdued lighting while utilizing feline appropriate products, filtered air, soft water, heated towels and state of the art equipment. This helps to create an atmosphere that allows a confident, calm energy to flow down the arms of the groomer, from their hearts to their hands, and can most assuredly be felt by the feline.
The investment one takes to provide the correct environment, retain a knowledgeable skillset and produce a conscious temperament help mitigate the stress a feline may experience while in a normal groom setting. Yet, in spite of these precautions, the risks involved to the groomer are substantial.
One such risk is the inhalation of cat hair, which is as insidious as it is spinous. Petal-like scales, triangular in shape, protrude from the hair shaft. This is why cat fur sticks with such ferocity to clothing or other fabrics. These spinous shafts are easily inhaled by the groomer during the grooming process and can produce negative effects for the lungs.
Secondly, bites from a cat can quickly become very serious. The large, curved, pointed canines are the teeth that puncture groomer’s hands. These teeth, shaped like a cone, are wider at the base and gradually thin into a point; this results in a wound where the surface heals quickly, trapping the bacteria Pasterella Multocida deep in the tissue. Urgent Care or hospitalization may be required. Those beautiful claws, so necessary to the wellbeing of cats, can also cause bacterial diseases. Cat scratch fever is diagnosed in over 25,000 people a year.
Thirdly is the risk of zoonotic (contractable) diseases that exist between felines and people who work closely with them. Ringworm is a fungal infection, rather than being an actual worm, that can transmit by direct contact with the fungal spores. Unfortunately, these spores can survive up to 18 months in an environment. Even cats with no signs can be asymptomatic carriers. Sanitizing and disinfecting the salon and boarding area is a never- ending process.
Speaking of worms; Roundworms are common intestinal worms in cats and Hookworms can penetrate the skin of humans. Yuck!
Fleas can spread bacterium and tapeworm to animals and humans; Toxoplasmosis, Cryptosporidiosis (microscopic parasites) and Giardiosis are protozoal infections that are also contracted through fleas. Ticks can cause Lyme Disease, which causes stiff, painful joints, as well as fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and sudden collapse.
Lastly, the most notable of zoonotic disease is the dreaded viral infection Rabies. That is why it is safest for groomers that cats who go outside must be vaccinated before they are groomed or boarded.
The physical stress from maneuvering an animal in the safest way for grooming, the mental stress of compassion fatigue, and being aware of all risks that can affect both groomer and feline all factor in. Groomers are trained to protect themselves, yet stress is one of the major factors for quitting this profession. Being responsible for the care and welfare of someone else’s pet can be overwhelming at times. If the facility also involves a feline boarding situation, the obligation is 24/7.
Nonetheless, this professional road less traveled is the only one that truly fulfills my heart and proves that one person can make a tremendous difference in the lives of cats as well as their owners. When directing a life force with a purpose that ignites one’s emotions, I believe it will bring about unending satisfaction and there will be no dependence upon any particular outcome for success.