Grooming Aggressive Cats

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The difficulties involved with grooming aggressive cats and how to move forward

I have been a mobile cat groomer for three years now and can honestly say that 95% of semi/long haired cats either dislike but tolerate the grooming process, are indifferent to it and let the groomer do what is necessary, or are nice and relaxed, used to being combed and bathed and generally seem to outwardly enjoy their time on the grooming table.

Cat grooming typically involves nails being clipped, fur being combed through, maybe some matts shaved out, trimming around problem areas such as around the bottom, and occasionally a bath. A groomer can expect hissing and grumbling from some cats that dislike being handled. However, there are a minority of cats that are extremely aggressive towards their owner and groomer when approached with a view to combing their fur and these are the ones I’d like to talk about.

When confronted with grooming aggressive cats the first thing to determine is what type of aggression it is. In other words, is it fear aggression or wanting to control the situation aggression. It is quite easy to determine. A fear aggressive cat will show different body posturing to a cat who is just feisty and wanting to get its own way.


Alfie was feisty and aggressive but not out of fear.

A fear aggressive cat is dangerous because it will be in fight or flight mode. If this type of cat is badly matted the kindest thing to do is shave the matts under sedation. As a cat behaviourist and groomer I am then equipped to design a behaviour modification plan for the cat’s guardian to work with until we get the cat used to tolerating being combed without being fearful.

A feisty controlling cat also needs to be trained but with this type of cat the groomer can be firm and confident, without using any face muzzles or restraints. By using towel techniques and continuing the groom safely but without allowing the cat to control the situation the groom can usually be completed. In some cases the cat will give up trying to control the outcome of the groom. It has been used to getting its own way with its owners by hissing and vocalising. This type of cat is not stressed just angry. They usually eat or play straight away once of off the table. The former cat, the fear aggressive one, will not eat, play, or stay close by. They would hide, start panting, show signs of stress and occasionally still be extremely aggressive to the groomer once off of the table.

Knowing the difference and the correct handling techniques for different feline personalities is vital. Experience is the key.

Every situation is different. Make sure you book a cat groomer who is experienced with grooming aggressive cats in a holistic low stress manner.

If you wish to discuss anything in this post or have a cat that is difficult to handle please EMAIL Anita Kelsey – an expert mobile cat groomer. Your email will be answered within 24 hours.

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