Some cat owners never need the services of a groomer, maybe because their shorthaired buddy is easy to maintain or because they're capable of handling their longhaired friend. Others, either due to a lack of time, confidence and/or experience, or physical function, turn to a professional cat groomer to tend to the needs of their furry pal. Even if you think you won't ever need a cat groomer, know that "emergency situations" can arise, perhaps due to a child's wad of gum becoming hopelessly entangled throughout your cat's coat or a chance encounter with "Pepe LePew," the local skunk on the prowl.
The steps that you should take when on the hunt for a groomer for your feline friend are much like those that you go through when searching for a veterinarian. Begin with asking friends, family members, local cat breeders or pet stores, fellow cat owners, kennels, animal shelters, and your veterinarian for their recommendations. As always, take a peak at the yellow pages and see what if anything stands out to you. You might even want to place a call to your local Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against groomers that you're considering contacting. Determine if your state requires all pet groomers to be certified.
When you've identified a list of groomers that you'd like to talk with, make a call to each of them and ask if you can stop in at a time of their convenience to look at their facilities. Be on time for all of the appointments that you make. Take along a general list of questions that you want to ask; otherwise, you might forget something important and then you'll have to retrace your steps. The main questions to ask include:
What training/certification, if any, does the groomer possess?
How long have they been in business?
Are they a member of any pet-grooming organizations?
What percentage of their clientele is comprised of cats?
What costs should you expect to incur?
Do they have a separate kennel and working area for cats?
Are there certain grooming procedures that they will not do or prefer not to do, such as skunk-odor removal or post-surgical grooming?
What types of grooming products do they use, chemical-based or more "natural"?
Can you provide the shampoos, etc that you would like them to use?
Will they apply flea and tick medications after they groom the cat and are they certified to do so?
What types of restraints do they use when grooming cats?
Do they use a dryer on cats after being groomed and if so are they constantly monitored?
How long does it take to get an appointment with the groomer?
How long does a grooming session last?
What are their hours of operation?
Do they have a few customers that they could provide as verifiable references?
Do they require certain medical records to be provided prior to your cat being groomed?
Do they make house calls?
Will they groom your cat if he or she has been sedated?
Do they provide emergency services outside of regular business hours?
Do they do all of the grooming themselves or do they have assistants?
While asking these questions you should also be noting your impressions of the cleanliness of the facility, the demeanor of the groomer and any of their employees, and the attitude and appearance of the animals that are present. If you're satisfied with the answers to your questions and are impressed with the overall business, ask the groomer if you can bring in your cat to pay a brief visit without actually having any grooming work done. If kitty makes the trip and you still have a good feeling about bringing him or her to this particular groomer, follow-through and get your buddy scheduled for a beauty treatment or simply keep the groomer's telephone number handy for those unexpected emergencies.
Conduct your search for a qualified cat-grooming professional as thoroughly as possible so that when the time comes to leave old puss in the hands of someone else it won't be such a traumatic ordeal - for you, not your cat. Kitty will probably have a wonderful time getting the body massage of their life. Make use of the time you have and sneak off to the salon yourself.