One for All at All Fur Paws
Why cats need grooming just like dogs
BY LEAH BACKSTROM
Oh, no! Ms. Feline Fluffy wreaked havoc over the house — again. That chair you swear you took a lint roller to twice yesterday is coated again in a layer of fur. Kitty litter has been spread over your floors. What did you just step in? The latest hairball blending in with the carpet. All the while Fluffy is perched atop her cat tree, licking her paws and blessing you with her presence. With a sigh and a shrug you go to grab your broom and vacuum.
Cats are notoriously known for their self-grooming abilities. They know just what to do to keep their coats looking paw-fect. But as with all pets, they still need that extra help to keep themselves handsome, happy and healthy.
Located by the Northern Pacific train tracks on Broadway is a small but unique pet salon called All Fur Paws. New to downtown, All Fur Paws opened its doors Oct. 9. There is one for all at All Fur Paws. Truly, owner Rhiana Gallagher does it all: full-service grooming for cats and dogs of all sizes. Gallagher began her business eight years ago near Fosston, Minnesota, before moving to downtown Fargo.
Gallagher understands the concern and questions pet owners might have about taking their cat to be professionally groomed.
“Our pets are our babies, and it’s scary to leave them in the hands of a stranger,” Gallagher said.
While grooming Twitch, an orange tabby cat with a spunky personality, she also shares her experience and a few important benefits of professional grooming.
Groomed Cats = Cleaner House
The first thing most pet owners find problems with is cleaning up after the massive amounts of shedding. Shedding throughout the year is a natural process of cat hygiene. Instead of having Fluffy’s furs cascading over your furniture and clothing, regular brushing helps keep hair in the brush and off of you.
“The more that you brush, the less there is for them to lick up so it helps to reduce hairballs,” Gallagher said.
Pesky fur between their paws carries extra litter out of the box to around your house. Regular grooming also reduces cat dander, which is especially helpful for owners with allergies.
Brushing Improves Pet’s Health
Brushing does more than just remove old hair. It also removes dirt, dead skin cells, stimulates blood circulation, and distributes the natural oils that help maintain a healthy skin and coat. Grooming is not all about the fur. Eyes, ears, teeth cleaning, skin, and nails are important things professional groomers care for.
“(Cats) are prone to ear mites, they are prone to wax build-up and different things and when those happen you end up with a vet bill, so those are easy things to prevent,” Gallagher said. “You can also get those hard-to-reach places. When their coat is clean it prevents fleas and ticks, discomfort, ear infections …”
Even beyond all that, Gallagher says grooming allows for professionals to check for abnormalities and gauge what is normal for the individual pet.
“It’s good to do at-home grooming or to bring them in because it can help … detect different health issues or skin problems and most cats go their whole life without that,” Gallagher said.
“And it’s the same with dogs, if a mat gets too tight it can cause wounds, it can fester, or actually tear (skin).” Gallagher says one of the worst things owners can do is to try to wash the matted fur out at home. Water can cause the area to tighten.
Nail Trimming Can Save Your Furniture
Claws are also an area that needs special attention. Nail trimming is beneficial not only for the cat but for the home as well. Cats in the wild scratch and climb trees that naturally wear down claws. For an indoor cat, having a scratching post helps to file down the nails as well as build muscles.
“One of the things I learned at the vet clinic, not only is (scratching posts) good for your furniture so your furniture doesn’t get scratched up, but they build those back leg muscles because when they’re scratching the post, they are using those back legs as leverage.” she said.
It may seem like the only answer to keep claw marks off your couch is to de-claw the cat. One alternative to declawing is nail caps. These caps are rounded off and don’t interfere with the retraction of the claws.
“You Super Glue them with a special adhesive that is safe for animals,” Gallagher said. “You put a little glue on there and just snug it onto their paws. They’re soft and rubbery. Generally you only put them on the front. You can get them in all sorts of colors. They should last ideally for four to six weeks and then they fall off with the natural shedding of the claws,” Gallagher said.
Help Socialize Fluffy With Grooming
When putting your pet’s paws in someone else’s hands, you expect the best care and service, especially if your fur baby has a serious “cattitude.” Regular brushing at home improves the bond between you and your cat. It also familiarizes the cat with grooming tools, which reduces the stress that can come when interacting with an unfamiliar professional groomer.
“If they have grooming experience when they come to a new person that’s the best, but something that if they are particularly temperamental … sometimes it is best to make arrangements with a veterinarian,” said Gallagher. “I do hope that coming to a place like this is nice because I do try to keep them here without dogs. It’s pretty much one-on-one grooming. The only other animal here is my dog so I try to keep it really low stress and really quiet.”
Pros May Notice Old Age, Sickness, or Depression
Cats have built-in grooming tools of their own: tongue and teeth. When a cat ages it can lose the ability to groom and clean itself, possibly causing greasy fur and matting.
Cats that experience illness or arthritis can become unmotivated and stop grooming all together. A cat can also exhibit behaviors that mirror depression. Dr. Lynn Hendrix is the owner of Beloved Pet Mobile Vet in Davis, California, and a palliative care expert. Hendrix explains in an article “Can Cats Get Depressed?” that what an owner might see as depression is likely a cat feeling stressed or uncomfortable due to illness.
At-home grooming, whether it is daily, weekly or monthly, will depend on your individual pet’s needs. From the bottom of her paws, Fluffy will thank you for leaving her feline purr-fect.
(Leah Backstrom is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism at MSUM. She is the chapter vice president of the National Society of Leadership and Success as well as a producer for MSUM’s Campus New’s program. She aspires to work in the video production industry after she graduates.)
Contact her at email@example.com.