I’ve been insanely busy lately working on classes, programs, workshops, lectures and other teaching opportunities that focus on cat show standards as the foundation for professional cat grooming. While trying to keep up with the demand for all the teaching based on show standard, I received a comment on one of my latest blog entries telling me how insulting my beliefs on this matter are. I love the irony.

The message below was written in response to one of my recent blog entries entitled “Competition Breeds Excellence.”

The comment reads:
“you truly need to take a step back and reenter the real world. plenty and i mean THOUSANDS of groomers in just the USA alone have no need for “competition” to maintain their standards. It is insulting for you to infer anything other. MOST groomers who ive encountered do EXCEPTIONAL work without even thinking of visiting a competition or website for “education”. we are only cutting a domesticated animal’s hair. the uniqueness of the grooms by INDIVIDUAL’S and not some sanctioned breed standard or cat standard groom will forever be superior to what you espouse incessantly.”

Obviously I struck a nerve when I wrote the blog entry (which, incidentally, also appeared in an issue of NDGAA’s Groomer’s Voice newsletter).

Not long after receiving that heartfelt message I had the pleasure of helping Liz and Olivia on one of our salon groom days. We had 15 cats on the schedule that day. With only 5 hours to groom them all and the added interruption of shooting video footage for future projects, I was going to have to jump in and do some cat grooming.

I got lucky. Out of the 15 cats on the schedule, 11 were Persians (1 Himi included in that bunch). I do love me some Persians!

The Himi was getting a lion cut. Out of the remaining 10 Persians, 1 DSH, 1 Maine Coon and 2 DLHs, there were a total of 3 comb cuts. The remainder consisted of full coat grooms with some belly shaves and sanitary clips thrown in along the way. That meant a lot of bathing, blow drying and combing out of long, luxurious coats was on the agenda. My favorite!

Not a single one of these cats was or ever will be a show cat. These were all “real world” cats. The kind that lie around the house, get greasy and matted if not groomed regularly, form tight pelts around their necks when drinking from a water bowl, start to smell like a litter box after awhile, and sometimes get rather cranky about being made to do things they haven’t decided to do. Real cats. Real life.

Prior to the first visit to my salon, most of these cats were in pretty bad condition from severe matting and/or pelting. The owners cared about their felines but had believed the myths that cats groom themselves or hate water, etc. A few of these clients had taken their cats to other grooming salons only to have them end up looking worse after the groom than they did before. Or they were called to come pick up their cat early, only partially groomed, because of its temperament.

A simple groom based on show standards combined with a little education has gone a long way! The owners are empowered to care for their kitties in a way that is better for both them and their cats. Being somebody’s pet doesn’t mean they deserve something less than what is provided for a show animal. Quite the contrary! While a lion cut, comb cut, sanitary clip or any other form of shaving is certainly not a show standard groom, the FOUNDATION for each of these ought to be based on the same quality as show presentation.

As an example, this Persian arrived at our salon sorely overgrown in such a way that her beauty was hidden behind a mess of hair. After a trim and bath/blow dry based on show standards, her face and head were restored to the smooth, fluffy, round openness that the Persian breed standard calls for. Why would I want to send this cat back out my door looking like anything but show standard quality? Why would anyone want to do that? What would drive a person to be so against this way of thinking that they feel compelled to write the above message?

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Whether the cat is left in full coat or shaved to some degree, the head can and should be returned to the state it is supposed to be in. And if you don’t know show breed standards then how the heck are you going to know what to do with that overgrown head? The rest of the body should match, with a coat that is soft, smooth and free of separation and kinky or wavy hair. Whether the coat is shaved or shortened in any way makes no difference. The foundation should still be the same in order to prevent a less-than-stellar finish.
Standards are a good thing! Subjectivity doesn’t always pan out real well. Maybe – maybe not. I prefer standards myself – high standards. Mercedes over Ford, if you want to put it like that. I’m rabid about this, as I’ve been told before. And if that is insulting to someone, well then so be it. I’m not going to shut up about this anytime soon, so either get with the program or quit reading my stuff.

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