First published in Purrfect Pointers Magazine, Vol. 3 Issue 1. See the full magazine issue, and archived issues in Member Benefits or our webstore.

I read a post today on Facebook by a groomer struggling with feelings of guilt over raising her grooming prices. She knew her work was better than her closest local competitor. She is a certified groomer with a title her competitor does not have. Her struggle between pricing herself higher than a less-accomplished competitor yet not raising her prices too high is a real struggle that many groomers grapple with. The feelings she expressed in a social media post are not uncommon in this industry.

I responded to this post with the following:

“The important thing is to not let what other people think dictate how you feel about something. Do it for reasons that make good business sense and reflect the quality of work you offer and services you provide. How you think about your services, work, and pricing will be reflected in how you communicate non-verbally and verbally to clients. It’s not about feelings. It’s about what you think and know and believe. I learned this from my mother when she assigned me a persuasive writing assignment back in high school. I started out with “I feel….” and she quickly corrected me. It’s what I know, what I think, and what I believe. Feelings come and go. Feelings change. Feelings cause us to second guess our decisions and flip flop when others question us. Feelings get in the way when making sound business decisions.”

I believe every word of that to be true in not only how we operate our businesses and determine the monetary value of our work, but I also believe the same holds true when we work with animals. Knowing something to be true is key to building confidence. If you “feel” like something is true, you are less likely to proceed with confidence. Knowing something with absolute certainty allows us to speak with confidence to clients, create and enforce business policies, set appropriate pricing, AND work well with the animals that have been entrusted to our care. I believe this is particularly true when working with felines.

We had a second cat lined up for the photo shoot, this lovely cream Scottish Fold, which was also nervous at the beginning of the shoot. Quickly, however, the cat was comfortable in just about any position!

Working With A Nervous Cat Model

Recently I was in Toronto for a photo shoot for a cover of the NCGIA’s Purrfect Pointers magazine. During the shoot I was handling a very timid and shy Bengal that was my co-model for the cover. With a make-up artist, hairstylist, photographer, director and others on location there was a great deal of commotion. At first, Coco, the Bengal, was quite nervous about the whole thing. However, as we worked in front of the camera a bit, Coco constantly in my hands or against my body, she began to relax considerably. Midway through the photo shoot, Coco was at ease in my hands, trusting that she was okay as long as she was connected to me. At that point I was able to maneuver her into just about any position and she was totally okay with it. It struck me then, how awesome is the role that confidence plays when working with cats in a grooming environment! The attitude of the groomer and the handling skills that are a result can make or break a cat grooming session. I cannot stress this enough.

So often, cats are brought in for a groom feeling anxious and overwhelmed, fearful of the unknown. When a groomer is also anxious or fearful, the cat reads this and reacts accordingly with more fear, lots of flailing, and even aggressive behavior. If, on the other hand, a groomer is fully confident in their handling and grooming abilities regardless of the cat’s condition or behavior, the cat will know. Confidence from the groomer can turn an uncontrollable kitty into a compliant one simply because it trusts its handler. I have seen this happen more times than I can count.

So if confidence is key to both healthy business growth and management and to safe and effective cat grooming, the question becomes how does one get this confidence? Good question! I’d say knowledge is the first step. The more you know the more confident you become. It’s truly hard to be confident about stuff you know very little about. You can wing it for a time, but ultimately both cats and clients will pick up on that (cats usually faster than people!).

How to Gain Confidence

Begin with knowledge. Then add experience. If you can first learn from someone else’s experience then you can save yourself a lot of time, trouble, cost, and suffering. Fortunately there are many options in the industry whereby you can learn from the experiences of others that have been there, done that.

Along the way, maybe some coaching would be helpful. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to kick us in the butt and push us to be the best we can be. Are you confident in your business decisions? Are you confident when you are handling cats and talking to the owners about their cats’ ongoing grooming needs? Are you confident when you quote that price? If the answer is yes, keep on keeping on and make sure to raise those prices periodically. It’s called inflation. If the answer is no, start with the knowledge part first.

Become familiar with the subject. How do cats move? How do they respond to various things? How should each response be handled? What groom style is appropriate for each cat? What if the cat is old or really thin and frail or higher aggressive or badly matted/pelted? How much should you charge? What should you instruct the owner to do for future maintenance? What if the clients only wants you to cut out the mats? What if you can’t finish the groom? The list goes on and on…….these are questions I hear often. There are answers to each of these questions that are sound answers. Knowing this stuff provides the confidence to sell cat grooming services, get clients on a regular schedule, charge a nice price, and get the job done each and every time with stellar results!


– Danelle German, Founder & President of the National Cat Groomers Institute



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