Kitties are notoriously well-groomed, but that doesn't mean they don't need professional help to look and feel their best. While not as commonplace as dog grooming, cat grooming is a growing industry and one that has health (and beauty) benefits for your cat. The most obvious benefit of cat grooming is how sleek and beautiful your kitty looks after a day at the salon or a visit from your mobile groomer. For long-haired cats (or those that like sneaking through tick-filled grass or thorny bushes), cat grooming keeps fur free from knots and tangles. Cat grooming can also cut down on heavy shedding and keep your clothing and furniture from being covered in cat fur all the time. If you have a longhaired breed like a Maine Coon or a Persian, professional grooming can lighten their fur burden and help keep them cool if you live in a place with hot or muggy summers.
Cat grooming can include bathing, haircuts, hair detangling and deshedding, "bang" trims to clear hair from their eyes, ear care, eye checks and eye care, nail trims, paw checks, dental care, and more. You can certainly do your own cat grooming; however, most cats don't love the prospect of getting bathed, so unless you are comfortable and competent in handling your pet you could get hurt or hurt your animal. Because cats are much less likely to sit still, they're more difficult to groom than dogs.
This is why professional cat groomers can groom cats better than most pet owners — they have training in safely handling squirrely cats. You can help prepare your cat for an easier grooming session by having a vigorous play party with your kitty's favorite toy before taking them to the groomer's; your cat will be happy, a little tired and more relaxed. A professional groomer can also spot potential health problems and offer suggestions for improving a cat's overall health. Most cat groomers provide a range of services with different prices. Some cat groomers work out of their own facility, while others will come to the cat's home. Some, such as Pawsitively Purrfect Mobile Pet Spa and Sitting of Pittsburgh, even have mobile pet grooming vehicles fully equipped with bathing stations and everything needed to care for your cat.
Length of hair
Not surprisingly, the longer a cat's hair, the more challenging the job of grooming and the higher the price. Although the cost for longhair cats may be higher, grooming may be even more important for them than for shorthairs. Longhair cats are more likely to get tangles and to shed all over you and your home. Regular grooming can help reduce cat hair allergens in your home and make it easier for your cat to self-groom. As cats groom themselves, their tongues draw excess fur in to be swallowed. If your cat is shedding excessively due to heat or other factors, they could form hairballs, which could be uncomfortable and potentially unhealthy. As an example of tiered pricing based on hair length, Furry Angel's Pet Spa of Alpharetta, Georgia, charges $15 for a bath and brush for shorthair cats, $20 for medium-hair cats and $25 for longhair cats.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends you to have your cat's nails trimmed every 10 days to two weeks, or follow your vet's guidelines for your specific pet if they're different. Proper technique is crucial for trimming cat claws. If you cut too close to the quick of the nail (where the blood vessels and nerves dwell) you may hurt your cat or traumatize them for future nail trimmings. Unfortunately, cats can be very squirmy, making it difficult to safely trim their claws. Cat groomers can capably handle your cat to prevent scratches and keep your cat from getting injured. The ASPCA urges cat owners never to declaw their cats, as the procedure actually amputates the ends of your kitty's toes. A nail trim is usually one of the least expensive cat grooming services on the "spa" menu. Paying a groomer to clip your cat's nails will cost you an average of $10-$15. For example, Daisy's Delights Barkery, Boutique & Bubble Bath in Norwood, Pennsylvania, offers walk-in nail trims starting at $10.
You'll know if your cat needs a haircut. When their belly hair is matted up, they have tangles all over, or they are overheating in summer, it is time for the groomer. The groomer can shave down the hair on your cat's stomach to prevent the health challenges that matted fur can bring. Longhair or overweight cats can also benefit from a haircut if they have feces or kitty litter matting in the fur around their anus. This is not good for your cat or the cleanliness of your house, and a "sanitary cut" will trim away the hair to ensure good hygiene. Your vet or groomer may recommend a haircut if your cat has a skin condition. Cutting back the hair can allow sensitive or hurt skin to heal and can also make it easier to apply any healing skin creams. The lion cut or shave-down is a popular style of haircut for longhair cats that trims the hair on the cat's body down to a buzz and leaves the tail and fur around the face fluffy — so your cat looks like a wee, adorable lion. Glenolden Animal Hospital of Glenolden, Pennsylvania, charges $60 for the lion cut.
Most cats don't need regular haircuts, and can be relieved of overly shedding hair with a good brushing session and a bath, but if your cat does need a haircut, it pays to go to a pro. Clippers, scissors or a shaver could cause injury to your cat if you are not comfortable holding them while trimming their hair. The cost of a haircut often depends on the length of the coat and whether the cat is willing to sit still. You may be charged extra if you have a particularly aggressive cat who scratches or bites under stress. Consider wearing out your cat before the groomer visit with a heart-pumping session of chasing the string. Haircuts from A Country Cat House Cat Hotel of Miami, Florida, range between $45 and $95, depending on the condition of the coat and the temperament of the cat.
One area that cats can't clean very well themselves is inside their ears. Luckily, pros can do it for them. Many groomers offer this service as part of a full grooming package; others do it a la carte. Ear cleaning removes wax and dirt. It's important to be gentle here and avoid the cat's inner ear canals to prevent injury or infection. While cleaning your cat's ears, your groomer will be able to let you know about health concerns such as ear mites, blood blisters or ear infections before they become a major problem. Some pros offer package pricing, like Princeton Grooming and Spa in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, which charges $30 for an ear cleaning and trim.
It pays to pamper your pet. When you purchase multiple cat grooming services at one time, you'll typically receive a discount. If you only need one service performed — such as nail trimming — most groomers offer both a la carte and bundled services. In one example of package pricing, Tabbie's Mobile Cat Grooming of New Braunfels, Texas, offers a nail trim for $15, a bath and nail trim for $45, a sanitary trim for $55, and a full haircut for $65 to $85, depending on how severe the matting is. Tabbie's Mobile Cat Grooming includes nail trims and a bath with any haircut service. Glenolden Animal Hospital offers a basic grooming package that includes a bath, blow-dry, brush-out, nail trim and ear cleaning for $40.
Be sure to ask if you qualify for discounts. Some groomers offer price reductions for certain clients or for those who pay in cash. For example, Furry Tails Pet Grooming and School of Hillsborough, New Jersey, offers 15 percent off all full grooming services to firefighters, 10 percent off to senior citizens and 7 percent off if you pay cash.
Ask your groomer if you can get a discount for purchasing multiple services. Take advantage of a groomer who will come to your house to save on transportation costs. A perk of working with a mobile groomer is a cat who is far more relaxed, as not many cats enjoy getting in the carrier to go on a car ride.
Groomer vs. vet
Cats use their tongues and their teeth to constantly clean their paws and fur, but sometimes they need a helping hand. They may just need a helping hand with their grooming, but sometimes what you think is a grooming-related problem actually indicates the need to see a vet. You should bring them to the groomer if:
- Your cat rolled in something stinky
- Your kitty got skunked
- Your cat's fur has become overly matted with foxtails or burrs
- You want to thin down their undercoat to reduce shedding
- You are concerned about your cat overheating in hot, summer months
There are times when a visit to the vet instead of the cat groomer is called for. If you notice that your cat is avoiding grooming itself in certain areas, it may be a sign of an injury or arthritis. If your cat is compulsively grooming itself, this may be due to an underlying health problem or an allergy; a visit to the vet could bring relief. If you notice your pet demonstrating odd self-grooming behaviors, a visit to the vet is always a good plan.
Finding a great groomer
It's hard to trust someone with your precious pet. Cats especially can be fickle creatures and can become skittish and scared when faced with baths, clippers and haircuts. Finding a competent cat groomer who will treat your pet with love and care is important. Your first step is determining whether you want to bring your cat to a brick-and-mortar location or prefer a mobile grooming service. From there, you can filter your search based a few criteria. Great reviews are crucial. You don't want an unkind or grouchy groomer getting near your cat on a regular basis. At best your cat will learn to hate being groomed; worse, your cat could get hurt. Read reviews and pay attention to the experiences of past and current clients. Look for photos of well-groomed cats that showcase the groomer's experience, especially if you have a special breed of cat that requires certain haircuts. Make sure your grooming service is fully bonded and insured, performs background checks on their entire staff, and regularly supports ongoing staff education, such as Pet First Aid and CPR. If your cat has a health emergency, you want your groomer to be equipped to handle the situation. With those key pieces in place, take time to meet the person you are interested in hiring before he or she does the work. You want to work with someone you and your cat both like, especially if you want this to be an ongoing groomer relationship. Once you find the right fit you'll have one more person looking out for your animal's health and well-being, and your cat will look good.
- Read client reviews and follow up with references to make sure you're choosing the right cat groomer for your kitty. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.