Ask a Master Groomer: 5 Tips for Grooming Cats

Cat grooming is one of the fastest growing markets in the world of grooming. In recent years, the number of cat owners and popularity of cat grooming have skyrocketed and more and more groomers have taken the steps to educate themselves and begin offering cat grooming in their services. This is great news, but it’s important to remember that the road to cat grooming can be more complex for new cat groomers than expected. To help with this, we interviewed Wahl E.L.I.T.E. Educator and president and founder of the National Cat Groomer’s Institute, Danelle Groomer.

Here are her 5 top tips for grooming cats:

1. Use the right tools and equipment for cat grooming

“What most groomers don’t understand initially is that most of the stuff made in the grooming industry is made for dogs, and then they try to use the same stuff on the cats in their salon. There are some clippers and blades that are just not very good for cat fur, you can imagine it makes for a not very attractive groom, but also makes for a laborious groom that will aggravate a cat to the point of it can become dangerous for the cat and the groomer to proceed. So I try to do so much talking to people at trade shows and students. They often get frustrated and say cat grooming is really dangerous, or they say I can’t finish the groom, or I’m so unhappy with what it looks like, and 9 times out of 10 they’re using tools or products that don’t work well on cats. If they have one bad one, it sets the whole groom off.”

Danelle recommends Chubbs Bars shampoo for bathing and de-greasing, the Wahl Bravura with the 5-in-1 blade (her absolute favorite), and the Wahl KM10 for quicker shave-downs.

2. Assess a cat’s temperament and condition before you begin grooming


“The cats are always in some kind of crate or container, so you don’t get to really see the cat until you take it out of the crate. So the owner says I’m sick of her hair all over the place, the cat won’t let me comb it, so just shave all of the hair off, and the groomer goes “ok, great!” The owner leaves the cat there, the groomer goes to let the cat out, and they find out that the cat is old, boney, dehydrated, and then what happens in that case is you’ve got a cat with really thin skin. It’s like you’re shaving tissue paper. You will cut the cat. Or the cat is highly aggressive and the thing that aggressive cats hate more than anything is shaving. So you’re committed to doing this, but now you’ve got to shave every inch of this cat’s body, while it's trying to rip the groomers face off. So somebody is getting injured in that scenario. One of the things my training has focused on over the years is to recognize the temperament of these cats. So you can say okay I know you want to accomplish these goals but your cat is this body type or has this behavior, and so here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to solve your problem while also doing what’s best for the cat and the groomer. That is something that's really critical.

 3. Learning proper shaving technique

“Learning proper shaving techniques to help you get the job done as quickly as possible with a beautiful finish. I’ve seen too many cats where the cat looks like its been in a fight with a weed whacker. It’s embarrassing for the groomer and for the groomer industry, the owner doesn’t like that, and I’ve done repair grooms on those cats. So learning proper clipping and shaving technique is huge.”

 4. Understand that all cats are greasy

They have greasy hair, greasy skin, and it doesn't matter if the owner tells you they have dry skin and they have dandruff. The dandruff is not from dry skin, its excessively oily, dirty skin that hasn’t been bathed in forever. So imagine you don’t wash your hair for a year and you scratch yourself, what would happen. That’s the cat. And people don’t understand that so their objective is bathing because to reach that nice finish we want on the cat the coat has to be washed and properly degreased. That’s how you get the results, that's how you’re going to get a nice finish on whatever you’re doing.”

 5. Communicate what your brand is offering

“A lot of times, you’ve got owners who believe cats groom themselves and now their cats are matted. No cat can eliminate matting. The owner might try to comb or brush, maybe even go out and buy clippers, and this usually goes very badly. They think what they need is just mats removed. This leaves the cat with holes. What they don’t know, is this matting is caused by lack of bathing and blowdrying on a regular basis. You have to know what causes that and how to effectively communicate that to the owners so they get it, and so they buy regular preventive maintenance grooming, and that is always the focus of my business (NCGI), teaching groomers how to communicate and offer, deliver, preventive maintenance grooming, so cats don’t ever have to be matted again.”

Danelle has more wonderful resources on her website ( and both Wahl and the NCGI hope to offer all of the information and help that you will need to become the best cat groomer you can be. We hope you can apply these tips to your own salon and help ensure that all of the animals that come through your salon are happy, healthy, and beautiful!


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