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Cat Grooming: Building a Clientele and Pricing with Danelle German

Special Guests

Danelle German

Danelle currently serves as President and Certified/Instructor of the National Cat Groomers Institute of America, which she founded in 2007. Along with her husband, she is the inventor and patent holder of the Catty Shack Vac drying system. She is a sought-after speaker, innovator and entrepreneur within the pet care industry. She is known not only for her exceptional skills as a feline-handler but also for her awesome show-worthy grooming results developed over years of successfully competing in the show ring. Combined with her seemingly unlimited knowledge of the feline-species, her training proves time and time again to be the best that can be found. Danelle is also the author of The Ultimate Cat Groomer Encyclopedia. This encyclopedia focuses on the cat grooming business, CFA-approved cat breeds, feline behavior, grooming and handling techniques, feline health, and case studies on cat grooming. In her talks, she leads people into self-awareness and self-actualization, inspires them to find and pursue their own excellence, motivates humans to reach deeper within themselves as they learn to communicate with another species on a profound level. She espouses several simple truths along the way: never trust a cat; failure is not an option; every cat deserves the best groom and groomer.

Cat Grooming: Building a Clientele and Pricing with Danelle German

In this episode, Joe Zuccarello is joined by cat-master and feline aficionado, Danelle German, from the National Cat Groomers Institute. They’ll explore ways that dog groomers can build a lucrative cat clientele into their business for an excellent return-on-investment. You’ll also find answers to many questions, including the following:

  • How does a groomer, and a cat, survive a cat grooming session?
  • How do you create a “cat exclusive” space?
  • Why do you need a slick tabletop surface for cat grooming?
  • How do you un-aggravate a cat? (Hint: You don’t!)
  • What is an air muzzle?

Tune in to find out!

Special Offer:

Use code: HEY JOE at www.NationalCatGroomers.com/Syllabus for $200 off of our complete cat groomer training syllabus, which includes two books, 5 DVDs and 13 Courses.

Transcript

Joe Zuccarello: Welcome to Hey Joe, a podcast answering questions asked by our listeners, created by pet professionals for pet professionals.
Now, your host, Hey Joe’s very own, Joe Zuccarello.

Joe Zuccarello: What’s up, everyone? Joe Zuccarello here, and welcome to Hey Joe, a podcast brought to you by Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Check out our site at ParagonPetSchool.com for lots of really cool information on a variety of programs, products, and to connect to educational resources, such as webinars, podcasts, current events, special news, certifications, and lots of other helpful information, to help you grow yourself, your team, and of course your business. Let’s get started with this week’s episode.

Hey there, everyone. This is Joe Zuccarello, and welcome to another episode of Hey Joe, a production brought to you by the Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Check out our website at ParagonPetSchool.com for lots of information on a variety of education products and links to helpful information, education resources, and so on.

This Hey Joe Podcast is an opportunity where you get to listen in on a real coaching call between myself and an expert in the industry, oftentimes answering questions we get in all the time to the podcast starting with the words, “Hey Joe.”

Thanks for joining us at Hey Joe. Today’s topic is cat grooming. Again, we’re joined by Danelle German. I’ll give you a little bit about Danelle’s background in just a moment, but today’s topic is how to groom cats and live to tell about it. This is all about the safety aspect of grooming cats.

Danelle German is, I’ve often referred to her as one of the bravest people I know when it comes to cat grooming. She is by far… I expect to see her on a National Geographic episode on television at some point for cat grooming. I’m sure that’s on her list of, her bucket list, to do. But she’s the founder of the National Cat Groomers Institute. It’s a grooming school located in South Carolina. It’s the world’s first feline exclusive grooming school. She is also an author and a regularly sought out speaker at industry trade shows and other appearances all over the world.

I want to thank Danelle. Thank you for being with us today and agreeing to do this podcast. We’re going to do lots of other podcasts, so be sure to tune in and listen to all of the series with Danelle. Most importantly, stick around to the very end of this, because Danelle has brought an incredible offer exclusive to Hey Joe listener audience members to take part in some of her training and her experience, so stick around to the very end, and she will tell you all about that.
Danelle, tell us a little bit more about yourself and what’s going on at the National Cat Groomers Institute.

Danelle German: We are always busy. You know, one of the things I would love to invite people to do is give them an opportunity to learn some of the things that we share for free on our website, on our blog, namely, and then also through some of our webinars that we have. If they want to do that, I know you’re going to give out the URL here anyway, but I’m going to go ahead and say, visit NationalCatGroomers.com and take a look at the blog. Search for terms that are relevant to you, things you’re wanting to learn more about, and we have so much content on there that is so useful. I do want to invite listeners to do that, and I really thank you for having me here today.

Look, we are saving the world one cat at a time. That’s our joke slogan that we have here at the National Cat Groomers Institute, and it is amazing to see the students that go through our program and then put this into practice in their own business environment, whatever that looks like, whether they’re a business owner or an employee and wherever they’re located in the world, and watch them just transform their business, their cat owners’ lives, by fixing problems that they haven’t been able to find someone else to fix, and by changing things and making them better for these cats that were previously living with bad condition, mats and so forth.

I love this about my job. I love seeing the transformation take place in all of those aspects, all those regards, with our students and through our students. It’s just been amazing to see.

Joe Zuccarello: At a previous episode, we kind of gave an overview of cat grooming. Today we’re going to talk about all things safety, which I know that you are just super in tune with, because when it comes to cat grooming, safety is probably, I don’t know, but in my book it would be number one. Then on future episodes, we’re going to talk a little bit more about building clientele and a pricing structure and how that can transform the business. But we’re also on a future episode going to talk a little bit, we’re going to take a deeper dive into techniques and training necessary.

As you said, there’s a lot of free information out at NationalCatGroomers.com for the Hey Joe listener audience to go and take a peek at. I’ll tell you that, this podcast receives a lot of questions from listeners out there. One way that you, the listener, can submit your questions is simply by emailing us at HeyJoeQuestions@ParagonPetSchool.com. Cat grooming, I’m sure is one of the most popular questions that we get, because it’s such a necessary… I think you called it before, a niche, a niche service. I can’t remember who said it, but I know somebody had once referred to niche businesses as the riches are in the niches.

Danelle German: Yes.

Joe Zuccarello: I’m sure cat grooming is one of those. Let’s take a dive. Let’s jump right into safety. As you’ve told me in our show prep, and it really just resonated with me, was that safety in cat grooming is about two creatures, two living beings in that equation, and that is not only the person but also the cat.

Danelle German: Absolutely. Absolutely. One of my goals when I started teaching and training other people, initially it was employees working in my cat grooming salon, and then later it became official students. One of my goals in that was to teach them how to handle the cat safely so that they survived the grooming and came out of it blood-free and all of that, but also that the cat responded well to it and came out of the experience with the problem solved, free of nicks and cuts and all of those things, and also just looking really good in the end.

This has been a major focus of the National Cat Groomers Institute. It’s working really well. It can be a real thing to have the safety of the groomer and the safety of the cat go hand-in-hand and everyone come out on the other side with good results. Some of the things that play into that, some of the key ingredients that help make that a success, number one, the top of the list, I would say environment, the environment being feline exclusive, free of the commotion, noise, and energy of dogs is so important.

Joe Zuccarello: Danelle, let’s unpack that for a moment. Obviously, as you’ve said before, our Hey Joe listener audience is probably mostly comprised of dog groomers. So, what you’re saying is, in order to have a feline exclusive experience… You know a lot of dog groomers. You kind of hang around us. Even though you’re a cat lady, you hang around us when you have to, right?

Danelle German: Yes.

Joe Zuccarello: Taking one for the team, I know. But what would you say to us dog groomers out there that we’ve got, how do we control our environment to be cat exclusive? What tips or tricks have you offered dog groomers before to do that?

Danelle German: Yeah. A couple of quick and easy ways to do this. Number one is creating a separate time that is feline exclusive. An example of this might look like the first Monday of every month from 9 to 2 is cat day. During that time there are no dogs on the premises, none on the schedule. It is just reserved for the cat clients, and the cat clients know this. They appreciate it. The cats respond so much better. The groomer is typically, if they’re doing things correctly, able to make more money during that time-frame than if they were grooming dogs.

The really cool thing is that they can, by limiting this time that they have, let’s say during this time-frame they were able to groom eight cats and they have eight clients, eight cat clients. They’re just starting out and they only have eight cat clients. If they only have the first Monday of every month available and there’s only eight slots left, guess what your likelihood of these exact clients that are coming in this Monday booking for the Monday a month later that’s available, the next available cat day, guess what your likelihood is of them pre-booking and keeping that time slot?

It’s really high, because if they don’t book it and keep it, they lose it. They lose that opportunity, and then they’re forced to wait another month, which by this time, their cat’s going to start to be matted, and you’re going to charge additional matting fees and things like this. So, the groom becomes more expensive, and also the groom is more difficult for the cat, and so there’s the whole thing, we want to operate from the premise that our owners want to, they love and care for their animal, and they want to do what’s best for it.

If this is what we’re building our business around and we’re limiting those times, then it helps us to fill those slots. As the clientele grows, you can open up more slots. Maybe it’s two Mondays a month now instead of just one, and so on and so forth, whatever that needs to be for your business. But that is the low-cost or no-cost way to do this. It’s super easy. Anyone could implement that right now, block out that time, make it happen.

Joe Zuccarello: I was wondering, Danelle, because you had my curiosity piqued when you were doing our show prep about blocking off that time, because my mind immediately went to a longer day, either starting earlier or finishing later, like bolting on extra hours onto a day. But you bring up such a great and wise point, of saying, “Listen, you are the cat groomer. You are a necessary partner in that pet’s care and grooming, so when you decide that it’s that…” I love that. It’s the first Monday of the month, and if you don’t want to start your week off with cat grooming, I get it, maybe you make it a Wednesday.

Danelle German: Sure. Yeah, yeah, whatever.

Joe Zuccarello: I don’t know, but whatever works for your business. To your point, it’s about supply and demand.

Danelle German: Absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: So, if the demand is there and the supply is limited, the clients are going to behave differently than when the supply is almost unlimited.

Danelle German: Absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, I love that, changing the customer’s behavior to fit what is really ultimately designed to be the safest practice, the safest parameters possible, with cat grooming. That’s a great tip.

Danelle German: Absolutely. Then the other alternative option here is creating a separate space, and not everyone has this, of course. But if you are a mobile groomer, then you already have this space. Anytime you have a cat in your facility, in your mobile grooming van or trailer, you are feline exclusive. So, guess what? Problem solved. You go to a cat client’s house, you groom their cat, it’s feline exclusive.

If you have a salon, a brick and mortar salon, then look at your space and go, “Hey, do I have a small closet area that could be converted into a separate cat grooming room, or do I have a back storage room that could be converted,” or what have you. Some people do have this. They have this sitting, this space sitting there, they’re not using it to generate any additional revenue, and it’s just a very low-cost solution for them to be able to go in and outfit that with what they need to make that happen. That can also bring in new clients, because now you’re providing this feline exclusive space that is specifically geared for cats.

Joe Zuccarello: I like that a lot too. But still being conscious, though, I would imagine, of the surrounding noise in the environment if maybe they find this little nook, this little space, where they can make their cat grooming space, the cat can still hear the noise from the dogs and driers and all the like, so it’s still probably… Maybe it’s a mix of the two or a way of maybe it’s during the quietest hours of the day, maybe for cats. Would you say?

Danelle German: Yeah, absolutely. Depending on how their space is set up, I would tell people that it’s not the noise of the driers that’s your issue. It’s the barking of the dogs. It’s the energy of the dogs. Often, by just having them separate and closed off room, this can definitely minimize the effects of this. Obviously, if we can remove it altogether, that’s great. If you have the option to have a totally separate entrance with a completely separated cat grooming area, that’s ideal, but not everyone has that.

Then it comes down to looking at, if I don’t have space, do I have time? Can I make time? One thing I mentioned before, I’m going to bring it up again, I’m not saying add on, like you were thinking there, Joe, initially, make your day longer, because who wants to take their ten-hour day and make it a 14-hour day? No one. So, let’s say, can we replace, can we replace some of the dog grooming appointment slots with cat grooming appointment slots that generate more revenue per hour? That is possible. That should be the goal. It can be done if it’s done properly and intentionally.

Joe Zuccarello: Again, we’re going to be talking much, much deeper on pricing and building clientele, so I imagine you’re kind of keeping that one kind of bottled up for our next episode.

Danelle German: I am.

Joe Zuccarello: To really talk in depth about that, because when you start talking to dog groomers about taking away dog grooming appointments and putting in something like cat grooming, you better be talking about more cash and a much more rewarding, financially rewarding, prospect versus just, listen, I can do a haircut with my eyes closed on a dog, and now you’re going to say, “Hey, why don’t you consider doing some cat grooming,” right?

Danelle German: Yeah. Thank you.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, right. Now you have carved out time, and you have carved out hopefully either a space or a combination of time and space for cat grooming. Now let’s take a look at, let’s take a look at maybe some necessary equipment that in that time and space you need to prepare for.

Again, to the Hey Joe listener audience out there, we’re talking to Danelle German. She’s the founder of the National Cat Groomers Institute and probably regarded… not probably… in my book and anybody I know that knows Danelle, the most highly regarded expert in the field of cat grooming. We are talking about safety while grooming cats.

Now we’re going to explore, what are some of those necessary pieces of equipment that groomers should be thinking about if they’re going to groom cats safely?

Danelle German: Okay. This is really important as well as the environment, or it kind of lends to the environment, is having a table top that is a slick surface, such as stainless steel. I know this is a foreign concept to dog groomers, because they are used to this grippy, rubber top tabletops, and what have you, that are necessary for dogs. You’ve got to keep that dog standing on that table safely. Now let’s flip it over to cats. It’s completely different.

I want a slick tabletop surface so that I can spin the cat around on the table quick and easy while it is in its, quote, unquote, “comfort position.” This is a term that I’ve coined over the years in working with students, talking about when a cat is lying on the table with its legs all tucked up under it, and it’s happy. It’s just chilling. It’s laying there like that in its comfort position.

The reality with cats is that the more we handle them and the more we attempt to pull their legs out in full extension and do all of these things that are not natural and not in keeping with their comfort position, the more likely we are to aggravate them. Once you aggravate a cat, you can’t un-aggravate a cat. If you think you’re going to put the cat up and let it simmer for a while, I’m telling you, it sits there and it gets angrier.

Joe Zuccarello: You should have that on the back of a tee-shirt, “You can’t un-aggravate a cat.”

Danelle German: Yeah. Yeah. You can’t do that. I actually had a student years ago who said she thinks of cats as having a turkey timer, and once the turkey timer pops, you cannot un-bake the turkey. That is such a good way to put it. It’s so true. Stop thinking you’re going to un-bake the turkey. The turkey’s baked. It’s done.

If I can keep the cat in its comfort position and minimize that handling, over-handling, the stretching of the legs, things like this, then I can keep the cat in a non-aggravated or less aggravated state, as the case may be, longer. This is to my advantage. This means I can finish the groom. This means the groom will look nice, because I’m not left with a partially groomed cat that is now so aggravated that it is beating the tar out of me and trying to eat my hand when I’m trying to comb out its belly or finish shaving its belly, so forget it, I can’t finish that. These are common things that happen. I hear this, I see this all the time. We want to eliminate these things. A slick tabletop is one of those things.

Joe Zuccarello: Hey, Danelle, can I ask you, let’s talk about that for just a moment then. A slick tabletop, obviously, again, Hey Joe listener audiences are probably mostly dog groomers. Can you convert a grooming table that has a rubber grippy top to a slick top if they don’t have a stainless steel table base and they’re using a mat on top of it?

Danelle German: Yes, absolutely. A couple of ways I’ve seen this done is, one, having some… If you’ve got a handyman guy in your life, it’s having a countertop surface from Home Depot or Lowe’s made into a cap overlay that can go over, be mounted over the top of your table. Don’t ask me for directions on this, because I’ve never done it myself, but I have seen this done, and it’s been done by a handy guy. That is one really quick and easy option that you can take on, put on… take off, put on, that sort of thing.

Keep in mind, when I say a stainless steel table, I’m not talking about anything expensive. The tables that I have used for years have come from a restaurant supply company. They’re two foot by three foot, and they were 80 bucks when I bought them. This isn’t a high-ticket item when you compare it to a dog grooming table, really inexpensive.

Joe Zuccarello: It doesn’t have to support an enormous amount of weight.

Danelle German: Correct.

Joe Zuccarello: Like most grooming tables are designed to do. It doesn’t have to be, to your point, two foot by three foot. You’re dealing with typically an average sized cat unless you’re grooming a puma or something that’s-

Danelle German: Right. I don’t recommend that.

Joe Zuccarello: … for The Guinness Book of World Records for cat size, but most of the time, yeah, you’re right, this could be a pretty small surface area.

Danelle German: My very first grooming tables that I had in my salon my husband just did a little tweaking to. They were actually fold-up tables that I believe were meant for dog grooming competitions. They were portable, and they were very inexpensive. I got them online. I had two of them. He just simply unscrewed the rubber top, rubber-coated top, and we replaced it with melamine counterpart material we got at Home Depot. He just had it cut to size, mounted it on there, and those were my tables, and they still collapsed. So, super inexpensive. You could put it out of the way when you’re not using it. It’s such an easy fix, right?

Joe Zuccarello: Right. It cleans up well, right?

Danelle German: It cleans up-

Joe Zuccarello: To your point, melamine, or I would imagine even like a plexiglass or an acrylic surface cut to fit. I think the hardware stores will actually cut that to fit the dimensions you need if you brought the dimension in.

Danelle German: Yeah. You just want to make sure that the edges are not sharp, because you will have cats that will grip onto the edge for a security blanket, and you want to make sure that that isn’t going to cut their little paw pads.

Joe Zuccarello: That’s a great point.

Danelle German: That would be the only thing I would look at. Another piece of equipment that is so fundamentally necessary is a single hand-control spray nozzle. I learned this the hard way. I had a single hand-control spray nozzle, and what I mean is a nozzle that has a squeeze trigger on it so I can turn on the water, turn off the water, increase, decrease pressure of water all with one hand. I learned the hard way that this is not always what is found in a dog grooming salon. Sometimes there are these nozzles that don’t have any kind of hand control on them, and the controllers, the on/off and all of that, is somewhere else on the tub.

If you think about this, when I’m introducing a cat to the bathing process, especially for the first time, I have to hold the cat with one hand. That would be my left hand. That’s my scruffing hand. Then I’ve got the spray nozzle in my right hand. So, if I don’t have a hand-control option on the nozzle itself to use with my right hand, then I need a third hand, and I don’t have one, guys. Unless you have a third arm, a third hand, somewhere on your body, you don’t either have the ability to turn on and off the water or increase and decrease the pressure and especially be able to do this in a split second should the cat have a reaction that you weren’t anticipating or what have you and you need to turn that water off immediately or turn it on immediately, because there’s a reason for that as well, then you’re really setting yourself up for failure by not having this single hand-control nozzle.

I’ve been to so many salons and done workshops and training events and then discovered that this was what was there, and of course they’re telling me, “I don’t know how you bathe cats. You make it look so easy. I’ve seen your videos,” or whatever. Then I see their tub setup, and I’m like, “Okay, number one, let’s get this fixed. Go down to Lowe’s or Home Depot or Walmart and buy a garden hose sprayer and put it on your hose here.” Problem solved for less than $10. Now you have just eliminated the need for you to have a third arm.

Joe Zuccarello: Oh, that’s brilliant. Just that control of the water, to your point, something’s going to give if you’ve only got two hands and you’ve got to do three things.

Danelle German: Absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: We talked about in a previous episode, of respecting the abilities of these creatures. If you become complacent at any point during this process, the cat could make you pay for it.

Danelle German: Yes, and they will.

Joe Zuccarello: One way or the other, yeah. I love the idea of, listen, if you only have two hands, you can only be doing two things at the same time.

Danelle German: People may be going, “Okay, already she’s mentioning two things plus space. This is going to cost me something, even if it’s 50 bucks for the table, or a hundred bucks for the table and $10 for the spray.” This is cost. I’m going to talk about training too here in a minute, which is going to be even more costly, but there’s a reason for that, and there’s a benefit on this… There’s a return on this investment. That’s the thing we always have to look at. If I’m going to spend a couple hundred bucks or a thousand bucks or what have you on this to make this environment, get this training, is it going to pay off? Of course, we just talked about that in a recent episode, that overview, to do or not do cat grooming. I talked a little bit about the financial opportunities there, and I will delve deeper into how to make that a reality in another episode we’ve got coming up. The answer to that is yes, if you do this correctly, the return on the investment is mind-blowing.

Joe Zuccarello: Again, for dog groomers out there, we’re seeking the best clippers. We’re seeking the best shears. We’re seeking the best tables and all of that other, all of the other tools necessary. In this industry, I would bet that folks can really appreciate having the right tools for the job.

Danelle German: Absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: One of the things I’ve seen you use, I saw you doing a demonstration at a trade show, and it looked like an astronaut’s helmet.

Danelle German: Yes, that was next on my list.

Joe Zuccarello: I had the pleasure of seeing this thing in action, which was super cool, but tell the Hey Joe listener audience about the astronaut helmet. I’m sure you call it something else, but I call it an astronaut helmet.

Danelle German: The official name is the air muzzle but also otherwise known as the space helmet or the party hat or the ball, or whatever people want to call it. That’s what we usually say to the cat, “Oh, do we need to wear the space helmet?”

This invention, created by a veterinarian who is one of my personal heroes, he came up with this. It’s just a simple idea, but it’s ingenious. I groomed cats back in the day before the air muzzle was invented, and let me tell you that sucked, okay? I got bit. I used the mesh muzzles, and you know what? Those things, they give you a false sense of security, because I’ve had so many cats get their teeth out, their bottom teeth out from under that, and chomp down on my arm, when I thought I was safe because they were wearing this mesh muzzle.

When the air muzzle came out, man, it was worth its weight in gold. This thing simply goes right on over the head. The neck size pivots and adjusts to the neck size and Velcros right into place, super quick and easy. Because it’s plastic, you can wash the cat, dry the cat, do all these different things, with the air muzzle on. Yes, I have groomed some cats that must wear the air muzzle the entirety of the groom, they are that incredibly aggressive.

But this is the only way they can get groomed, and oftentimes, these cats are actually sent to my place of business from veterinarians locally, because the cat is no longer a candidate for anesthesia shave-downs, which is what it’s been getting, which is a terrible way for a cat to live, let me tell you. But to go through this cycle where we get really matted or pelted, so there’s the buildup to the pelt where I can hardly walk, and I have sores on my skin. Then we go to the vet. We get knocked out with anesthesia, which is very expensive and risky, get shaved down by the vet tech. No offense to you vet techs listening, but vet techs generally didn’t want to be cat groomers when they grew up, so they’re used to doing surgical shaves, so those lion cut shave-downs don’t always end up looking really pretty. Then the cat goes home to repeat this process over the next eight to 12 months. What a way to live life, right?

Joe Zuccarello: Oh, boy.

Danelle German: The air muzzle changed that.

Joe Zuccarello: Groomers don’t pretend to be vet techs, and vet techs don’t necessarily, even like you said, they don’t necessarily want to, but, again, because they don’t do it every day, I’m sure they don’t master it, and they’re dealing with a knocked-out cat. They’re dealing with essentially a limp noodle.

Danelle German: Yeah.

Joe Zuccarello: I would imagine that the pet in a healthy comfort position that you talked about earlier is the most important.

To the Hey Joe listener audience out there, this air muzzle, it kind of does look like a hamster ball that goes over the top of the cat’s head, and it completely covers the cat’s head. It has air holes in it where the cat can easily breathe. I’ve seen the cats totally relax, because they have that kind of peace of mind, and they’re not shrouded or blindfolded like a lot of other muzzles do.

One thing you had mentioned before, Danelle, was the methods in which we handle cats. Again, the Hey Joe listener audience out there, just a quick reminder to the audience out there, again, we’re talking to Danelle German. She’s with the National Cat Groomers Institute. Follow along. Take a peek at her website while we’re talking to you. Look at NationalCatGroomers.com, so take a peek at that website. Poke your head around and look around that website, lots of free information as well. We’re talking about cat grooming and staying safe.

One of the things, and I know you’re just really, really adamant about this, is the methods in which dog groomers groom cats.

Danelle German: Yeah. Because they’re different creatures, their reactive nature is very different. They respond of course to different methods of handling. In addition, their anatomy is very different. An example of that would be the full leg extension on the rear leg on a dog, dog groomers are used to having a dog stand up, like a poodle, for instance, stand up all nice and stacked on the table. They’ve got pretty full extension on that rear leg, and that’s a comfortable position for that dog. They’re going to stand there and let you do the clipping or combing or whatever it is you’re doing with that leg in that position.

Now, let’s take a cat. If you look at a cat that is just standing up, walking around the house, standing up, it does not ever have its leg, its rear leg, in that full extension. That is not a normal position for a cat to have its leg in. In fact, it can be very uncomfortable for a cat. If the cat is arthritic, which many of the elderly cats are, then it can be downright painful. Yet, if we’ve got to shave that rear leg, it must be in full extension. Otherwise, we will cut the skin. If we have wrinkles that we’re shaving, we’ll cut them.

You’ve got to have that skin pulled taut, and in order to do so, that leg must be in full extension. Well, if this is painful or uncomfortable, at a bare minimum for a cat, or just unnatural for a cat, if we’re making it do that for a long period of time… and when I say long, I mean more than 90 seconds at a time, then we’re taking too long, and we’re aggravating the cat. We’re going to get a bad response from the cat. Yet, the reality is, that many groomers attempting to groom cats without proper training and knowledge, will need to pull that leg out in full extension for 10, 15, 20 minutes at a time, and they’ve got to do this on both rear legs. So, you see, this is just again another setup for failure. If we can learn some real practical handling techniques that help us actually groom during that 90 seconds of leg extension rather than wrestle and knock out a really pretty rear leg line that’s symmetrical and even on both, they match, then, hey, why not do that.

Joe Zuccarello: I know one of the methods that you had talked about also, and I’m picturing every cat I’ve ever seen walk around a house, or a family’s cats, or our own cats when I was a kid, you’re right. They don’t have that full rear leg extension. It just is such a great observation that in the grooming world I don’t know it gets remembered.

Danelle German: Right.

Joe Zuccarello: One of the things that you had talked about before, and, again, obviously there’s no way that in this particular podcast episode we could even scratch the surface of all of the techniques and training. We’re going to have an episode coming up in a Hey Joe Podcast where we talk a little bit deeper about training and techniques, but one of the things that you had talked about is just how dangerous it may be or how unsavory, if you would, the use of other tools, like a grooming loop, or those things can be for cat grooming. Can you just touch on that?

Danelle German: Yes, absolutely. I’m so glad you brought that up, because I want everyone to take this away from this episode if they don’t remember anything else. Do not use a grooming loop or a leash, collar-type setup of any kind around a cat’s neck. That is a really good way to end up with a dead cat somewhere along the way, so don’t do that.

Cats do not respond the same way to that tug of a collar or leash around the neck like a dog does, and so a cat that is driven by fear of the unknown or being startled or just attempting to get away from something, will take a flying leap off a table and break its neck. I know groomers that this has happened to. It’s of course not something you ever want to deal with, so don’t do it.

Joe Zuccarello: Yep. No, I know that when we were talking about tables, I made a note during our prep to talk about the grooming loop, because specific to that little micro environment you’re building, if you’re taking the time to do a slick tabletop and you’re trying to do everything by the book, and you go and you create a quiet environment and all the things you talked about, using the air muzzle, you’re doing all of those things, but if you make that one critical mistake of using a grooming loop, it could prove to be a big problem.

Danelle German: Absolutely, yeah.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, I made a big note of that. Obviously, we’re going to have a lot more to cover in future episodes with Danelle as far as training and techniques of safe cat grooming, but hopefully during this episode you, the listeners out there in Hey Joe Podcast world, kind of got a hint as to just the bountiful amount of education and information that you can find with Danelle German and her team at National Cat Groomers Institute. Again, you can visit the website at NationalCatGroomers.com, but before we let you go, Danelle, we owe the listeners an opportunity to hear what it is that you’re providing to them exclusive for just being Hey Joe Podcast subscribers. Do you mind letting us know what you brought to them today?

Danelle German: Oh, yeah. I’m so excited to share this. We are offering to all of the podcast listeners here a coupon code called HEY JOE. That’s all capital letters for $200 off of our complete cat groomer training syllabus, which includes two books, two books that I have written, and my staff has actually helped write one of them, and five DVDs and 13 online courses. Of course, a lot of this content is geared around these handling techniques and demonstrations of things I’m going to talk about in the next upcoming episode about that topic. These are things that we really have to show people what that looks like and on a variety of cats that have different behavior types and different body types, and they’re getting different types of grooms.

This is all in the complete cat groomer training syllabus. They can use that coupon code by going to NationalCatGroomers.com/Syllabus, and that will give them more details about that training program that they can take from anywhere in the world at their convenience, and they can put that in their shopping cart and then use the coupon code, HEY JOE, to knock $200 off of that. Then we’re also going to ship their books and DVDs to them for free. They’ll have immediate access upon checkout to the 13 online courses, and then we also provide a series of assignments to walk them through all of that content in an order that builds upon itself.

Joe Zuccarello: Danelle, what an incredible offer.

Listeners, if you’ve ever contemplated getting started grooming cats, there’s definitely a right way, and then there’s all other ways, and the right way is-

Danelle German: Yeah, right?

Joe Zuccarello: … jumping on board with Danelle and her experience and the incredible education over at NationalCatGroomers.com/Syllabus. Take advantage of that promo code. You can also jump onto ParagonPetSchool.com, our podcast page, and follow the prompts to also not only bounce around between Danelle’s podcast but also listen to a lot of other subject matter experts’ tutorials and information to help you do what you do even better.

Danelle, thank you very much. I am really, really excited to continue our conversation with other podcasts. I can’t wait to hear how well these podcasts are received and really to hear the success stories of folks that might have learned, or at least been inspired, to maybe consider cat grooming by listening to a Hey Joe Podcast. Thank you for your time.

For the Hey Joe Podcast listeners out there, thank you to all of you for all of your great questions. Remember, this podcast thrives on your questions, so please send those questions to HeyJoeQuestions@ParagonPetSchool.com, and you might just hear your topic discussed with an industry expert in the near future.

Danelle, thank you again very much, and I look forward to future podcasts with you. Take care.

About Joe

Joe Zuccarello is VP of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, leaders in grooming education on campus and online. He possesses more than three decades of experience in the pet grooming, product development and pet business consulting disciplines.

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