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.
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
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
Jar with treats inside
Christmas bow ties
Soap for owners
Toy- Red and green mice, or feather toy
Paw prints on presents
Coupon for January
Keychain photo of pet
Christmas card with photo of their pet
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
And of course there are endless things you can do with a cricut machine
Personalised treat jar
Pet safe candle
Personalised food mat
and my carrier tags last year…
Have fun! It helps change of routine can help prevent burnout over the busy period.
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.
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!
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’.
Thumb isometrics (De Quervains)
Hold for 10-30sec x3
If you have pain, stop if pain increases and apply less pressure
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
8-12 reps. If you can do more than 15 reps, the weight is too light!
8-12 reps. If you can do more than 15 reps, the weight is too light!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
Loss of motor coordination
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Having business relationships, especially those in the industry, is extremely important for a Cat Grooming business.
Referrals- I get a lot of referrals from Vets all over my city. When I started my business, or when I needed a client boost, I sent out a letter and my cards explaining my services and what I can help their clients with. Referrals also come from Vets that see your work, so it’s good to know what Vet clinics your clients also use.
Injuries- If a client has an existing injury or becomes injured in the salon, the local vet will understand you and your business, and hopefully be more supportive if an accident would occur.
Emergencies! I always go to the closest vet for in case of emergency, so it is best for them to know who you are and why you are on your way (collapse, seizure, bleeding). Make sure you introduce yourself to the closest vet, and have them aware of your service location/s.
Pet Shops- Knowledge of what products are available at local pet shops helps when you are needing to refer them to buy a tool or if you are asked for information. Pet Shops are also asked daily for groomers to refer, so a bunch of cards wouldn’t go astray regularly.
Other Groomers- What if you drop and break your blade, or your clippers stop and you don’t have your back up? Its important to build relationships so you can help each other in time of hardship. It’s also great to know their services and availability if you need to refer possible clients you cannot assist.
Catteries/Pet Sitters- For referring to when clients ask, many will also refer to you for grooming. Sending a letter to have them aware of your service, and a pamphlet on recommended tools for them to use on their clients, may help build understanding.
Feline Behaviourist (or a Canine Behaviourist too if working with them)- For those cat clients with aggression or stress problems in grooming or home life.
Can you think of any more relationships a Grooming business should have?
It’s getting warmer here in Australia, and that means fleas!
Keeping up with your flea prevention is so important, especially if you have children, or cats that roam (or some that come into your backyard).
If you find fleas on your cat, the first thing you should do is check your flea prevention. Only use what is sold in pet stores or vets. Those in supermarkets although cheap, don’t work. Flea powders are also a waste of money.
Can I use a flea shampoo?
Washing your cat in flea shampoo is not recommended, (yes I’m telling you not to wash your cat!) Using flea shampoo adds chemicals to your cat’s coat, and are very toxic, which they ingest. They do not kill enough of the life cycle to make a difference to the infestation. When you see one flea, there are hundreds more! Wait until your cats flea treatment works, until you do a normal maintenance bath for flea dirt and dead egg removal.
How can I tell that my cat has flea dirt (flea faeces)?
Your have appearance of speckles of dirt. Wet a tissue or wipe. Wipe the section until you have a piece of the dirt on the tissue/wipe. Wait a few minutes. If the surrounding tissue is red/orange, there is evidence of fleas or there has been fleas.
But my cat is indoor, how is it getting fleas?
Fleas can be brought in by neighbouring animals, other animals, visiting pets, and even on your shoes.
Think of a flea ridden pet like a pepper shaker, once they walk into an area, they can drop fleas and eggs, everywhere they go.
How do I check my cat for fleas?
Fleas love to congregate around the anus and the base of the tail. Under the cat between the legs and around the face. You may find fleas or flea dirt, or in some cases flea allergy dermatitis.
Wash all bedding and floors with hot soapy water.
Spray the garden with a pesticide.
A natural way to kill fleas is adding food grade diatomaceous earth to cat’s food, or a as a coat powder, as this is safe for the cat and works by breaking down the fleas exoskeleton. More about diatomaceous earth.
Worming is important as fleas carry tapeworm. Worming should be three monthly from 6 months of age.
Use a spot on treatment or internal treatment. If infested, use of a spot on treatment more often then on the packaging, along with a capstar (Nitenpyram) daily, for five days, will help kick start the killing of fleas. Call the company on the flea treatment product for advice on the dose recommended for infestations, many can be used 2 weekly.
Students! You will receive a handout for your clients in this months newsletter 🙂