What should be in a new client form?

A new client form is such an important tool where you take the clients’ contact details and start the grooming consultation, which helps you, the professional, decide on the best grooming service for the individual cat.

Client/agent name: This would be who is responsible for bringing the pet and the pet at time of drop off/pick up.

Address:  You may believe that a salon groomer does not need these details, but it would help with invoicing late payments, or no-show fees. If the cat happens to not be picked up, you are aware of where the client is coming from, or in case of forgetfulness, you can drop it home.

Phone number: Reminder texts, phone calls, reminder payments overdue, rebooking reminders.

Alternate phone number: This can come in handy if you cannot contact the original owner/agent that has not come to drop off/pick up. I have had to use these on rare occasions.

Email:  Make sure you add a checkbox to add them to your list for updates, reminders, holiday leave, etc.

Vet Clinic Details: For any emergencies or questions you need to ask the Vet.

Pets name:  Obvious, but sometimes clients forget to fill this part out!


Breed: Some cats are bigger than others, have more coat, more predisposed to health issues, coat types

Age: Can be a contributing factor to what grooming the cat has, such as kittens and elderly.

Weight: Sometimes you have booked the pet in a small spot and it turns out to be a 9kg Maine Coon! Good to know before the cat shows. Other times I have booked a large Maine coon spot and it has been written as 4kg.

Grooming History: It is important to know if the owner has been grooming the cat, if it has required sedation, if the cat has never been groomed or even had its nails clipped. I’ve heard it all!  And just because a client has been grooming the cat at home, doesn’t always mean the cat is happy to be groomed.  ‘She doesn’t like me grooming her’; can be so many things.

Why is the cat being groomed:  This can help you decide what is needed.  Shedding doesn’t always need to be a clip, bathing and brushing also reduce shedding, and when also stating the cat is aggressive at home or elderly, you can recommend a bath instead.

Does the cat have current matting? Location of matting.

Behaviour History:  If the cat has signs of petting induced aggression at home or more, then you will require to reassess the grooming type or your policies with aggressive cats.  We discuss the health history and how it affects a cat’s behaviour for grooming in ‘Behaviour for the Cat Groomer’.

Health History:  Many health issues and health history influence the cats grooming.  Anything from arthritis to having a history of fractures or teeth removal.  Current medications and vaccination status.  Flea/tick/worming prevention status.

Asking where the client found you can help you see what marketing is working for your business, you can also thank those that recommended you.

Terms and conditions of grooming:  These are important to add to your form, remembering that this is not admissible in court, but also can show your client what they are to expect for grooming.  Always add that there is a possibility of injury. I also state death, is rare, but they need to be aware of the risks involved with having their cat groomed.  Include any extra fees that you add on top of the groom including the late fee, no-show fee, parasites, matting, behaviour, extra time taken, behaviour fee, or anything you add to your services.  The client is then aware and add a check box or signature box.  It is also recommended to state that this form is for any further appointments.  In this disclaimer, you may be stating you are not liable, when in fact, any animals in your care, you are liable for.  A form will not cover you but deter those that want to use you for dodging vet bills (it happens!) Or those with badly behaved cats that may be a liability to you and your staff.

Specialised forms:  It is recommended to make specific forms for the following cases:

Senior Pets- Senior pets have thinner skin, and so have a higher risk of injury. They also may have a higher risk of death post grooming if stress puts them into kidney failure.

Matting declaration form- If the Cat is matted at all, there is a higher risk of injury.

Sedation and medication– If a client have worked with you and a vet to give a medication before grooming. You may choose not to take cats with any sort of sedation before. 

See an example form

This is general advice, ask for specific advice from your insurance provider and legal advisor before starting a business, and writing forms is recommended.

Grass Seeds!

In Australia, spring has sprung, and this means… Grass seed season.

What is a grass seed? A ‘Grass seed’ or ‘Foxtail’ is a weed that grows rampant at the end of winter and starts to dry in the warmer weather. It then will release its dry seeds, to populate more areas.

This seed has been designed to spread throughout your garden, it has a point at the beginning, perfect for penetration, and a brushed end, making it hard to remove.

Yes, a seed I found yesterday!

This unfortunately means that it easily gets stuck in fur and can penetrate the skin, or even worse, it can go into the ears, eyes, mouth, nipples, or genitals. A pet shaking its head will be checked by a veterinarian for the presence of grass seed.

Once penetrated into the skin, due to its shape, the seed can move around the body, causing even more problems.

Dogs and cats should be checked regularly for the presence of seeds. If any of these weeds are on your property, daily checks could prevent a vet visit.

How do I know if I have a penetrated grass seed?

If on the surface of the skin, a granulated wound may be present with the seed still showing. If penetrated or naturally removed, a hole will be present. If evidence of a hard ‘trail’ under the skin, this needs to be seen ASAP to find the location of the seed, this may require exploratory surgery. If no ‘trail’, veterinary attention is still required, as antibiotics may be needed.

What do I do if I find a grass seed in the skin?

If a cat is found to have grass seeds embedded in the skin, do not clip the cat, unless by veterinary advice, as clipping the end of these seeds while embedded, can cause them to be lost under the skin, and in turn, cause infection and exploratory surgery to retrieve.

You may like to remove the grass seed if sticking out enough, put this in a bag to show the vet how much is removed, and seek veterinary attention. An abscess can still form.

So, get out there and remove these weeds! Prevent a possible abscess or surgery.

Preparing for Christmas time

Christmas photography themes

I absolutely love taking Christmas photos! I start planning for the backdrop in October to allow for delivery of any backdrops.

Choose your styling/colours/decorations/props/dress ups!

Order or buy decorations (I love Kmart for this!)

Set up a part of the salon so it is always there ready to go and takes a limited amount of time.

Remind clients that you will not be taking photos of stressed pets, they go straight into the carrier.


  • White Christmas
  • Candyland
  • Picture with Santa/Santa’s chair/sleigh
  • Greenery such as a forest and snow
  • Cosy Christmas (inside, fire, tree, warmth)
  • Colourful Christmas (red, green, white)
  • Toy Christmas/Christmas morning
  • Food Christmas
  • Gold or silver
  • Lighting and presents
  • Aussie- Beach, Santa hat, sand snowman
  • Scandinavian- White, textures, pink
  • Gift unwrapping- pet inside a gift
  • Bedtime stories- bed, book, night lighting
  • Vintage- Green, gold, tartan, antique colours
  • Neutral colours- Snow (white ivory or crème) with browns, textures
  • Creamy tones- Beige, warm shades of brown, ivory, textures
  • Night before Christmas
  • Nightmare before Christmas
  • A bed, fur or sleigh for pets to sit on (must be comfy)

Photos courtesy of Lexie Goldsmith and Anjie Coates

Client Present Ideas

There are so many things you can do for your clients at Christmas. Presents are to be small but show appreciation to your clients for a year of loyalty. It’s good to keep them under a few dollars, as when you have hundreds of clients, it can really add up. It is also a good idea when starting out, not to spend a large amount for only a small client list, as once your business booms, you will have those customers’ expectations.

Just a couple of ideas:

  • Bal-ball with photo or something inside such as a lock of their hair
  • Handmade treats
  • Tree decoration/ornaments
  • Jar with treats inside
  • Pets photo
  • Christmas bow ties
  • Christmas scarf
  • Soap for owners
  • Toy- Red and green mice, or feather toy
  • Fish treats
  • Christmas cracker
  • Paw prints on presents
  • Photo frames
  • Coupon for January
  • Keychain photo of pet
  • Calendars
  • Christmas card with photo of their pet
  • Mini stockings
  • Raffle tickets into a large hamper for a December booking
  • Random presents on a tree they can choose out
  • Cat mint/cat grass/catnip plants
  • Cat masks for owners
  • Collar charms

And of course there are endless things you can do with a cricut machine

  • Personalised treat jar
  • Carrier tag
  • Pet safe candle
  • Personalised food mat
  • Personalised bowl
  • Personalised brush/comb

and my carrier tags last year…

Have fun! It helps change of routine can help prevent burnout over the busy period.

Lexie Goldsmith


Lion Clip Alternatives- The ‘Bolero’ Clip

What is the ‘Bolero’ clip?

The ‘Bolero’ clip is completed using a #10 blade or 5-in-1 clippers on the rump of the cat’s body and leaving the coat anywhere from behind the shoulders to the lower back forwards, depending on the cats’ needs.

Why is the clip named the ‘Bolero’?

The ‘Bolero’ clip is named after the Bolero jacket, a short, cropped jacket you may wear with a dress.

Why would a cat receive a ‘Bolero’ clip?

A cat owner may require clipping be removed, but prefer the majority of the coat to remain.

There are many reasons why a cat may need this style; age, over-grooming, under-grooming, matting removal in winter, health, overweight, surgery, and skin conditions that may require topical medication, or they just like the style!

What does a ‘Bolero clip look like?

CFMG, Julie Dorman-Ogden, You Had Me at Meow Cat Grooming shares her stunning work in the photos below.

More Lion clip alternatives in Clipping the Feline Online Grooming Course.

Teaching you to confidently clip the Feline client.
From recording the history, completing a thorough check in, to rebooking and client retention.
All styles, including 2 hours of videos and information on:
  • The Lion Clip
  • The Modified Lion Clip
  • The Comb Clip
  • Persian Trimming
  • Teddy Bear Clip
  • Short Hair Clipping
  • Sanitary Trimming
  • Clipping the Aggressive Cat
  • Mat Removal
….and how to choose what length is best for the cat in front of you. Includes clipping with and against the coat and handling involved.

Learn stress signs, temperament and behaviour, and when to stop (or not begin) a groom based on the cats’ stress.

A complete Clipping Course from the beginner to advanced, learning new ways to groom your clients.

Bonus First Aid Lecture written by Veterinary Nurse Naomi Conroy and discounts on Medicpet First Aid Products.


Pain in the… WRIST!

By Amber Hanrahan Qualified Physiotherapist, Perth Western Australia.

As you are very well aware, your hands are your biggest asset as a groomer. Wrist pain can be a real problem, not just at work but also impacting everyday tasks at home too. 

There are two main types of wrist pain that you are susceptible to when grooming; De Quervain’s tenosynovitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Both are caused by overuse and repetitive movements, often referred to as RSI (repetitive strain injury).

I’ll explain both problems in detail, so you can look out for early signs and symptoms. I’ll share my top tips and some exercises to help reduce the risk of them happening in the first place. 

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis 

Pain on the thumb side of the wrist due to inflammation around the tendons of the thumb. It is often described as a constant ache, a pulling sensation and even a burning sensation. Tenderness and swelling is common around tendon sheath, which is a connective tissue ‘strap’ that holds the tendons down and prevents them from bowstringing. These structures may become sensitised causing pain to extend up into the forearm too. The irritation of the tendons occurs from repetitive wrist movements. Pain can be triggered by making a fist, gripping, spreading the fingers apart or with a twisting movement, like opening a jar. As a groomer, you are more susceptible to this problem with work tasks like using scissors and razors (repetition of the task and twisting positions), turning a tap on and off. Pain can also be triggered by picking up animals of varying sizes and weight, particularly when they are not cooperating! Outside of work, examples of aggravating positions include sleeping with your hands curled in and picking up children or shopping. 

If you suspect you have this tendon problem, it’s best to see a physio. Usually a splint is prescribed to help limit aggravating movements and positions. You can purchase one over-the-counter from the chemist, however they tend to be bulky and difficult to achieve a personalised fit. So instead, I suggest seeing a physio or OT who specialises in hand therapy, as they will be able to make you a custom made splint. If you are in Perth, I recommend Flex Physio. Other than splinting to offload the sensitive structures, physiotherapy may include massage, dry needling, mobilisations, taping and specific exercises.

Some things you can try for yourself: 

·       Self resisted exercises

·       massage your forearms on the inside and outside using your hand or a small firm ball i.e tennis or lacrosse ball

·       Try to sleep with your wrists flat (neutral position), as if they were in a splint. 

·       When your wrists are sore, limit lifting where possible, this includes at work but also at home too! 

Heat or Ice? 

Well it depends. Either could help for both of these problems. Inflammatory type pain is usually relieved with cool packs whereas achy muscles are usually relieved with heat therapy. You could try both, not at the same time obviously! 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome 

A nerve related problem that occurs at the front of the wrist and travels into the palm of the hand. The median nerve is compressed as it travels through the carpal tunnel in the hand. Sometimes pain isn’t always present but other symptoms include numbness or tingling in the thumb and middle fingers. A loss in grip strength and hand coordination are other common complaints. If you notice the muscle at the base of the thumb is smaller than on your non-painful side, please discuss this with your physiotherapist. Usually it will occur in one hand only, but if it’s present in both at the same time, it’s important to discuss this with your physiotherapist or GP. This type of pain often occurs in women more than men, aged 35-60 years old. 

What can you do about it?

This problem is easy to diagnose and often responds well to treatment. If you suspect you have Carpal tunnel syndrome, the earlier you get an assessment, the better. It is best to see a physiotherapist first, or your GP, who will likely refer you to physio at some stage. Medical imaging is not essential for diagnosis. Management includes relieving symptoms through hands-on techniques (massage, mobilisations and movements) as well as exercise prescription. See the videos below for some examples. 

We will also provide you with tips to incorporate throughout your day, specifically tailored to suit your needs at work and also your lifestyle. We recommend you reduce repeated movements where possible and try to incorporate a variety of positions and movements to compensate. Let’s face it, not always possible! An ergonomic assessment of your work space is recommended to ensure you are taking care of your body. 

If left untreated, it can become persistent. Your GP may prescribe some pain medication and anti-inflammatories. As a last resort, referral to a specialist for surgical release around the nerves can be considered if conservative management has not helped. 

Now that seems like all doom and gloom right?! 

How can we prevent these problems in the first place? 

Strengthening the hand, wrist, shoulder and neck can reduce the likelihood of overuse, building your capacity above what your work demands of you. These preventative exercises are often ones that will relieve symptoms too! We call it ‘pre-habilitation’. 

Physio Exercises

Thumb isometrics (De Quervains)

  • Hold for 10-30sec x3 
  • If you have pain, stop if pain increases and apply less pressure

Elastic band 

  • As many reps until fatigue

Wrist stretches – Prayer & Reverse Prayer

  • Hold stretch for 10-20 seconds

AROM Long finger flexors (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)

  • Repeat until symptoms change OR muscles fatigue

Dumbbell curls 

  • 8-12 reps. If you can do more than 15 reps, the weight is too light! 

Lateral Raise 

  •  8-12 reps. If you can do more than 15 reps, the weight is too light! 

Wall angels 

  • Move slowly x 6-8 reps, up to 12 in a row

If symptoms worsen or persist, see your healthcare professional.

Who am I?

I’m Lexie Goldsmith,

My slow introduction and low stress handling techniques have been proven over 14 years of grooming cats without sedation and many happy clients, being the go-to cat groomer in my state.

I am contacted regularly by people all over the world wanting to learn cat grooming from me, and this makes me excited to see students now grooming cats with my videos, instructions and support.

I am a Qualified Veterinary Nurse, Pet Stylist and Master Cat Groomer, available for your cat grooming education needs.

Come join me on your cat grooming journey, I promise you will not be disappointed, I have a 30day money back guarantee for all courses.

More information on my courses here


The truth about hairballs

How could I have forgotten to write about something like hairballs!? 

Well, to tell you the truth, I haven’t. 

I was kind of avoiding it.  It’s a bit of a personal post.

Back, before kids, at the beginning of my career, I showed my cats. One of my cats, Holly, loved her shows, and I decided to grow out her coat this year and not do any trimming.  Unfortunately, unknown to me, she had been overgrooming due to stress resulting from some foster cats.  She stopped eating one day and seemed to have an enlarged stomach. I was nursing at the time, and was advised to take her to a specialist Vet clinic.  As they were imaging her, I was allowed to help, and of course I got the ‘oooh wow’ from the Vet. Photos were sent through to the computer and many nurses and Vets then surrounded the images with ‘come have a look at this.’  Of course, only a nurse’s cat gets weird things happen.  She had a hairball obstruction which meant she had no room to eat at all.  A gastric operation was quoted, but I was given the option to try and remove via endoscopy first, as I had limited funds, being a vet nurse student. I was allowed to watch, and this was before good phone cameras, or I’d have photos for you!  An endoscopy was performed with a tool that removes the foreign object piece by piece. We were lucky to remove most of the obstruction, and the rest by laxatives. Very lucky indeed.

My point to this story is that many people say that their cats never had hairballs, so there must not be a problem.  You should always continue to comb your cat and keep an eye for any excessive grooming, that may be abnormal for your cat.  A furball isn’t a bad sign, yeah, it is gross, but it means things are working well!

I’ve since learnt that is happens more often than you’d think. Learn more about this in Perth Cat Hospital’s post below.


Holly back in her hairier days.
Holly has since passed many years later.

What’s in a hairball?

A hairball, or trichobezoar, is made up of loose hairs, picked up during grooming, and digestive juices. It may also contain bits of food. The retention of a hairball/furball with vomiting prevents build up in the digestive tract and blockages.

There are a lot of at home treatments for hairballs, but a Veterinary consult it always the most important thing if your cat looks like it cannot pass a hairball or will not eat suddenly.

If you would like to reduce those ‘gross hairy cat poo’ looking things being thrown up all over your house, regular grooming is needed, such as bathing and blow-drying and combing as the cat is dried to remove that excess undercoat.  In cases where a cat is susceptible to obstructions, a regular clip off and bath is your best prevention. I have a few cats that are kept short as this was their unfortunate Vet trip one day.


Articles on obstructions:

CatTime Cat has 5 inch hairball removed from it’s stomach

Hero’s Big Hairball- The Perth Cat Hospital

Using endoscopy to remove foreign objects from the stomach of cats

Who am I?

I’m Lexie Goldsmith,

My slow introduction and low stress handling techniques have been proven over 14 years of grooming cats without sedation and many happy clients, being the go-to cat groomer in my state.

I am contacted regularly by people all over the world wanting to learn cat grooming from me, and this makes me excited to see students now grooming cats with my videos, instructions and support.

I am a Qualified Veterinary Nurse, Pet Stylist and Master Cat Groomer, available for your cat grooming education needs.

Come join me on your cat grooming journey, I promise you will not be disappointed, I have a 30day money back guarantee for all courses.

More information on my courses here


Bathing Emergencies

I have had an influx of enquiries of cats that have fallen into toxic and household chemicals

But what should I do if my cat, or a cat client has an accident like this?

First thing- Always call a Vet and confirm what your cat has fallen into, and whether it is required to come straight to the Vet, or if you can remove at home.  Never induce vomiting unless under Veterinary guidance.  Some chemicals can do as much damage coming up the oesophageal tract, as going down.

Remember that a poison can be taken into the system not only by cleaning with the tongue and ingesting, but also through the skin itself and the lungs (more information in First Aid for the Cat Groomer).

Signs of poisoning requiring emergency treatment:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing (i.e., choking, coughing, gagging)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blue-purple coloured skin/gums
  • Excessive salivation
  • Pawing at the muzzle
  • Champing the jaws
  • Head-shaking
  • Instability/trouble walking
  • Tremors and convulsions (rare)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Loss of consciousness/comatose
  • Loss of all body functions 

Depending on the toxin, the Vet may recommend removal by washing your cat in a dishwashing detergent or using an adhesive remover.

An example of washing a cat to remove motor oil:

The Cat was checked by the vet for signs of poisoning.  The owner opted to bathe the cat at home.

Bathing includes use of a washing detergent without citrus oils.  Always check ingredients before using anything on a cat.

Start by washing the cat with as much detergent and as little water as possible, adding more water each time.

 It can take 5-10 washes and rinses to remove the oil enough that it can no longer be ingested.

Always have a follow up Vet check the next day, or as soon as the cat starts showing any of the above signs of poisoning. 

Removal does not guarantee the cat has been poisoned, it just may reduce the likelihood of poisoning.

For more information on poisons and first aid treatments, see First Aid for the Cat Groomer.

A cat being bathed after a motor oil accident

My Groomer recommended medication for my cat?!

Yes! Not all cats can be groomed without some help.  

Some cats will show fear and stress, and we must reduce these stressors in order to reduce the risk of injury and health problems that can arise with grooming. 

Please do not think worse of your groomer, they are thinking of the safety of your cat, and cats are… well… cats! (And sometimes they think they are lions).

Why would a cat need to be medicated? 

  • Aggression where the cat is a risk to itself and/or the Groomer
  • Pain due to arthritis or an old injury
  • Memory of pain of an old injury
  • Fear that causes a high stress response (flight, fight, fright, flail)
  • Sensory decline or cognitive disfunction
  • A previous bad experience

Some cats do not have the option of a full sedation or anaesthetic at a Veterinary Clinic, so to continue to have a groom at a salon, they may need help in removing the fear or memory.

A common recommendation is Gabapentin, but your Vet may recommend another medication due to your cat’s health.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and analgesic medication. Gabapentin is prescribed by veterinarians for felines suffering from seizures, chronic pain, and anxiety. It works on calcium ion channels in the brain to reduce excitement.  This is a short-acting medication that takes effect in 60-90 minutes and lasts about 8-12 hours.

You should always test any medication at home before presenting for grooming.  If anything goes wrong or your feel your cat is not ‘sedated’ enough, you can then attend your veterinarian again.

Some potential side effects include:

  • Lethargy
  • Sedation
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Agitation

This is not a miracle drug, of course as with any medication, some cats will become worse, or require something extra to make Gabapentin have its full effect. 

Natural alternatives that may be tried are:

  • Zylkene
  • CBD Oil
  • Aromatherapy
  • Bach animal rescue remedy
  • Pheromones such as Feliway

This is for informational purposes only, and you should always consult with your veterinarian and advise your groomer if you are to medicate your cat. Never give medication to your cat that has not been recently prescribed for your cat and under veterinary care.

More reading:

Study: Gabapentin Reduces Stress in Cats Before Veterinary Visits (fearfreepets.com)

Gabapentin For Cats: Usage, Safety, And More – All About Cats

There is nothing to FEAR in Cat Grooming

I find that a lot of groomers will not touch a cat as they fear so much biting and scratching and cats losing their mind!

Let’s cover some rumours for cat grooming:

Cats hate baths and go crazy with the dryer

Actually, it’s rare a cat will ‘go crazy’ in the bath.  Slowly introduce the water, once a cat is wet, most will sit there and accept the bath.   You should know what to do in case of flail if it does occur. Most cats will easily accept drying at a low speed, while being burrito wrapped.

What do I do if a cat flails? (panics) (extract from Bathing the Feline online course)

“If a cat is to flail (lose control), DO NOT put your hands in front of it, if you cannot stop before they go crazy, let them flail. They will generally flip, let them do so, but controlled in the area you can continue to help them. Keep hands over them to keep control, but not in the face. If needed use a towel. Stop the bath, if shampooed then try and rinse by bucket or any means necessary, but do not continue bathing. You will get bitten. In this case, they would have to go home wet as it would be too dangerous for you and the cat to continue. 

This is the flight response but in extreme circumstances, where they think that it is life or death, you cannot reason with this. Most owners will know whether their cat will lose control in the bath. A lot of cats that are aggressive can be bathed, but ‘flail’ cats are usually the scared shy kind that can turn aggressive for fright alone.”

Clipping cats is scary

Clipping cats is not scary at all. Once you have a procedure of how a cat is clipped, including your preferred handling and understanding the skin and anatomy, most cats are easy to clip and take less than 20-30 mins to do so.

Cats bite and scratch the groomers

Assess every cat’s temperament and watch for stress signs, to prevent escalating to the point of biting and scratching. Biting and scratching is a cats fight motion (flight, fright, fight). Most of the time, the bites you see on social media are a result of someone ignoring signs and pushing a cat past it’s limits.  Every time I’ve been bitten, it’s a result of me being complacent. I don’t believe we should have to groom every cat.  Some cats require sedation or medical behavioural support.

Want to learn more about preventing bites and enjoying the grooming process, learn more on my courses, behaviour for the cat groomer, clipping the feline, bathing the feline. 

Sign up to my newsletter for more hints and tricks.

Don’t scruff the Cat!

Should I scruff a cat for grooming? 

It’s the controversial question that everyone has an opinion over.

I’m going to share mine!

What is ‘scruffing’?

Scruffing includes using a hand behind the cat’s neck to hold a large amount of skin, aiming to imitate the way a kitten’s mother transports kittens, causing a cat to ‘relax’.  Scruffing is also used by tom cats when mating with queens and during fighting. This is no longer a positive hold after a few weeks of age, as the reflex that causes relaxation disappears.

It should not be mimicked in a grooming salon unless there are extreme circumstances, such as where a cat needs to be removed from a high-risk situation. There are usually alternatives such as using a towel.

Look, back when I started, yes, that’s what you did! 15 years ago, you scruffed cats as it made them limp. right?

Yeah, well, I’m not too sure about that.  Over the last 15 years I have met many cats that are scruff sensitive; and if you reach for that neck, you will never gain their trust again.

I believe that in cat grooming you need to build trust with a cat, so that they know you are not going to hold them down or hurt them in any way.

Why would a cat become scruff sensitive?

  • Scruffing can cause discomfort or pain, for the cat, and therefore elevate aggression or increase sensitivity.
  • Scruffing can be interpreted by a cat as a negative association to grooming. Especially if used previously.
  • It can increase the likelihood of the groomer being injured while attempting to scruff.
  • It may exaggerate feeling of fear, stress, frustration, loss of control. and this will affect future grooms.
  • Scruffing a cat can cause it to become aggressive, from a fearful state.
  • Using the technique can increase stress, increasing cortisol, heart rate and temperature which can have adverse medical effects.
  • Scruffing will hurt the relationship between cat and groomer, where trust is important.

Scruffing removes a cat’s sense of control in the situation and limits their options, causing stress.

What can I do instead of scruffing?

There are many, many ways to restrain a cat.  Many types of towel wrap can be used instead of scruffing and other stressful holds.

Here are a few ideas I have used:

  • Upside down e-collar: Using an Elizabethan collar upside down can stop paws scratching you when trimming heads, instead of using a scruff.
  • The scruff substitute using a small towel: https://cattledogpublishing.com/blog/the-scruff-substitute/
  • Using light pressure on the shoulders at all times is one of the techniques I use in all of my grooming. This reassures the cat I am here and what I am wanting them to do.

Here are some ‘holds’ I demonstrate in Behaviour for the Cat Groomer.

  • Snake hold: Hold your hands in a V over the cats head.
  • Using the snake hold instead of scruffing to access  the armpit.
  • Chin hold: Using your thumb between the bones of the jaw, and placing the other four fingers around, or on top of the head.  You may also reverse this using the thumb at the top of the head, and fingers between the jaw bones.  This prevents the cat from biting and sudden head movements.
  • Using the wrist to hold and cut nails or check paws

To see more holds and scruffing alternatives, see Behaviour for the Cat Groomer and Clipping the Feline.

The proof is in the Veterinary and Behavioural Science. It is no longer standard practice to scruff a cat for Grooming and Veterinary treatment, as it can have repercussions on the health and wellbeing of the cat.

As you can see, I’ve only scraped the surface of the many alternatives to scruffing. If that’s what you do, then that’s what you do, but remember there are many alternatives that can mean a happier cat.

See the links below for more information.