Current State of the Cat Grooming Industry
An article written in conjunction with the “State of the Industry” publication by Petgroomer.com
I remember when there wasn’t actually a cat grooming industry. Sure there were dog groomers who groomed cats and even a couple feline-exclusive groomers that I knew about in the pre-2006 days when I was busy showing Persians, building a local cat clientele, and had no idea there were tradeshows and events just for grooming professionals.
The first tradeshow I ever visited was the Hershey Groom Expo in PA in September 2006. I remember making that 10-hour drive with excitement and anticipation of all the wonderful cat grooming seminars, products, tools and more that I would surely find at such a large industry event. Only I didn’t find any of that at Hershey Groom Expo that year. When I asked vendors about where their cat grooming section or their display of special cat grooming products was they often looked at me as if I had three heads. Cat grooming seminars? Nada. Okay, then……obviously this is a dog’s world and, hence, a dog groomer’s world. I do not belong here. These were my thoughts as I drove away, heading south and filled with great disappointment.
Only I did belong there. The cats needed someone. The “closet” cat groomers needed someone. They needed that person to lead the charge and form a union, of sorts. We, the cat groomers, needed a path forged that would lead to recognition, knowledge, skill, sound business principles, mentoring, encouragement and the boldness to move forward as proud and brave groomers of cats. Cats were treated like second class citizens in the grooming industry (and still are in some circles!) and therefore, the groomers of the cats were not taken seriously.
If you were in search of a book or instruction manual on cat grooming at that time, Sam Kohl’s The Cat Grooming Guide was the one and only choice. If you were looking for a useful cat grooming DVD of any kind, well, you were just plain out of luck.
That was 2006. Things are a bit different now. Instead of being a side dish, feline grooming has become somewhat of a main course!
In May of 2007 the National Cat Groomers Institute of America was formed, cat grooming standards were written, a certification program was put into place, and someone actively took charge of bringing professional cat grooming front and center. Training material was quickly developed and added and then marketing material and grooming business management tools formed as the NCGIA membership grew worldwide and cat groomers everywhere communicated the need for such items. Today, between my own inventions and work and the work of the fabulous NCGIA team, there exists the following:
The Ultimate Cat Groomer Encyclopedia
Grooming Ain’t for Pussies, Profits and Lessons From an 11-Cat Day
Cat Handling Techniques for the Groomer
Culture Book 2012
Culture Book 2013
Temperaments and Handling Skills Study Packet
Breeds, Colors and Coat Types Study Packet
Feline Health and Anatomy Study Packet
Business Management Study Packet
Breed Flash Cards
Color Flash Cards
Here Kitty Kitty DVD
Kryptonite for Cats DVD
Cat With a Mat DVD
The Comb Cut DVD
Get a Grip DVD
On the Road with Jodi and Danelle Part 1 & 2 DVDs (developed in partnership with Jodi Murphy)
7 different salon marketing posters
cat-specific client record cards
Groom-stickies check-in/groom forms
Groom Style Flip Chart
Cat-astrophe Flip Chart
What is Humane? customer brochures
A Groomed Cat is a Happy Cat customer brochure
Got Hairballs? customer brochure
Is Your Cat Clean? customer brochure
5 different breed-specific customer care brochures
website content specific to a cat grooming business
stock photo packages for cat grooming business websites and marketing material
Cat-a-tonic finishing spray
the Catty Shack Vac™ drying system
Chubbs Bars™ Shampoo (specially developed for cats but also great for dogs, horses, etc)
a 30+ hour webinar library (and growing!)
quarterly Purrfect Pointers newsletters
Salon design ideas and floorplans
AND……well, we are not done yet! More to come!
My 2014 kicked off without delay with a morning flight on New Years Day. Because of the cat grooming industry. Less than two weeks later, I awoke at 6:00 AM, drove to the world’s first and only feline-exclusive grooming school to teach four hours of business-related material to two Canadians and four Americans who will be the first graduates of the school’s fourth year in operation. Immediately after my classes were done, I passed the baton to Lynn Paolillo, an NCGIA instructor who relocated almost two years prior from NJ to SC solely because of a job offer in the cat grooming industry. I left for the airport where I flew to Phoenix for two different meetings with major players in the pet industry solely because of their interest in the cat grooming industry.
During my stay in Phoenix, I traveled down to Tucson to visit Gabi Tiefenbrunn, a CFMG with a feline-exclusive mobile business that she started less than two years prior, after attending the NCGIA. Gabi and her husband had made a seemingly crazy decision for her to leave behind her former vocation of many years and start up a mobile cat grooming business. Gabi had no prior pet grooming experience before attending the school. Upon graduating and earning her Certified Feline Master Groomer title, Gabi returned to Tucson, bought a brand new Wag’n Tails® mobile unit upfitted with a compact Catty Shack Vac™ and custom-made stainless steel table, designed her own logo and marketing material, and set about taking Tucson by storm. Just recently Gabi added an employee to her business and keeps asking me if I know of anyone who would like to get a mobile unit and take over half of Tucson for her. She’s finding it hard to keep up with the growth.
While driving the 90 miles through the Arizona desert to meet Gabi this past week, I had this article on my mind. What is the current state of the cat grooming industry? Hmmmm……well, maybe Gabi, by chance. And all those like her. There are many, many cat groomers I could tell you about, most of them CFMGs, who are doing marvelous things all over the world.
In the week or two preceding the writing of this article I posted some general questions on Facebook and via email to assist me in gathering data. At the time of writing this article I had received 49 responses. Respondents were from the US, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK. During the years prior to 2007 when the NCGIA was formed, only 7 of the 49 reported grooming cats in their businesses. Only 1 of those 7 reported being feline-exclusive.
Of the remaining 42 respondents, nearly half (18) were new business start-ups in 2013! I was surprised by this!
Of the 42 post-2007 (meaning after the start of the NCGIA) respondents, 9 said they have feline-exclusive grooming salons. Four claimed to operate a feline-exclusive mobile business and 8 reported offering feline-exclusive housecall services. WOW! I can remember only two feline-exclusive salons when I checked around for them in May 2007 during the time I was incorporating the National Cat Groomers Institute. Twenty-one of the 42 post-2007 businesses reporting the requested data – HALF of them – are feline-exclusive! And I can think of a few off the top of my head that did not send in their data and are, thus, not included in these numbers. I am amazed by this!
In 2013 I logged 117,514 flight miles. Because of the cat grooming industry. It is alive and growing all over the world.
In June 2012 I flew to Zurich to teach at a workshop hosted by the Maine Coon Society of Switzerland. None of the attendees or members of the Society were professional pet groomers. They were, however, serious cat exhibitors, and wanted to perfect their cat grooming for show purposes. As a result of that workshop, one of the attendees, Helena Schmid, a Persian exhibitor from the Zurich area, later travelled to SC to invest two weeks and a chunk of money into her soon-to-be new profession as a cat groomer. Helena later opened Katzensalon, Switzerland’s first (and currently only) feline-exclusive grooming business. Similar such stories can be told about people in Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, the US, and other places around the globe. Little by little, cat by cat, professional feline groomers are changing the world one cat at a time. This is the current state of the industry and I rather like it!
Here are a few recent articles about cat groomers that have appeared in newspapers and magazines:
Here’s a post from Barkleigh’s Groomer to Groomer message forum dated May 2007 – the inception of the NCGIA and then the actual school building, which opened in January 2010. You can visit the site and see the entire thread here.