Grooming aggressive cats
by Anita Kelsey – expert cat groomer and cat behaviourist (MCFBA – CIDBT)
The difficulties involved and how to move forward
I have been a mobile cat groomer for 6 years now and can honestly say that 95% of semi/long haired cats either dislike but tolerate the grooming process, are indifferent to it and let the groomer do what is necessary, or are nice and relaxed, used to being combed and bathed and generally seem to outwardly enjoy their time on the grooming table.
Cat grooming typically involves nails being clipped, fur being combed through, maybe some matts shaved out, trimming around problem areas such as around the bottom, and occasionally a bath. A cat groomer can expect hissing and grumbling from some cats that dislike being handled. However, there are a minority of cats that are extremely aggressive towards their owner and cat groomer when approached with a view to combing their fur and these are the ones I’d like to talk about now.
This aggressive reaction can stem from fear, a bad grooming experience in the past, dislike of being handled, fear of pain from a badly matted coat, through to phobias of the grooming process, or even fear of the groomer’s table, some which can resemble a vet’s table as does mine.
The way forward is a very difficult path for the groomer and one I find myself treading very carefully whenever presented with the scenario of an aggressive cat, especially one that needs to be de-matted.
On the one hand, the cat must not get the upper hand and control the situation, especially when it’s coat is matted and the job needs to get done. On the other hand, having to muzzle a cat and hold it down on a grooming table when it’s in ‘fight or flight’ mode doesn’t bode well for future positive grooming sessions . A cat has a good memory and may associate firm grooming with a negative experience. It will react aggressively again when meeting the groomer or when the owner approaches it with a comb in hand.
Sedating a cat every time it needs to be combed isn’t realistic either. So, you can see how difficult each case is when having to groom the coat of a cat that doesn’t want it!
I am going to talk through some situations I have been through with various cats, the path I took during the groom, and the advice given to the owners. Each cat and situation is different and decisions have to be made step by step. It’s upsetting seeing an owner at their wit’s end because they cannot see a way forward with the upkeep of their cat’s coat, especially when it hates being handled. It’s also very unsettling as well as upsetting seeing a cat so aggressive and agitated, lashing out at whoever it can reach, including the owner!
ONE ON ONE GROOMING/BEHAVIOUR CONSULTATION
Due to the problems presented to owners of cats that hate grooming I have started offering personalised home consultations that are part behaviour/part grooming.
Every cats personality and needs are different and every cat has to be approached with this in mind. There are different levels of aggression and also different reasons why behaviours are occurring.
A behaviour assessment, including a full history of your cat, will be done alongside a home visit. Part of the assessment will include various grooming techniques so I can see personality how your cat is reacting. From these reactions I will be able to explain to you what I feel is happening and the reasons behind them. A full groom will be part of the fee depending on the responses of your cat and what is concluded from my personal evaluation.
You will be shown handling techniques where possible and sent links to the correct grooming tools if you do not possess them already.
A behaviour/grooming report will be sent to you along with a tailored step by step programme for your cat only.
Continued support will be given.
I can travel to most of England.
if you are interested in behaviour consultation then please visit catbehaviourist.com
grooming aggressive cats – help at hand!