It’s no secret that presentation is crucial and you cannot present your cat well if it is not properly groomed. I'd like to share with you my grooming and bathing routine when showing my Silver or Golden Persians...
Preparation - Gather Your Supplies
Before you get the cat, it’s important to have all your tools, shampoos, towels, etc. in place and ready to work with.
A sample supply list includes:
Towels & Face cloths
You must be in a relaxed mode or else the cat may sense your nervousness and become nervous too.
Learn to follow the same grooming procedures and routine each session. By doing this, you are less likely to forget completing a specific task while accustoming the cats to the procedures. As your grooming skills sharpen, you will begin to work faster and more efficiently - a great asset when working with cats!
Kittens often get “hiney” baths early on, but it’s important to get them accustomed to a complete bath by 8 to 10 weeks of age. Make those first sessions short and sweet with quickie maintenance baths. As the kitten becomes more accustomed to bathing, advance to additional grooming procedures which we will cover in this article.
Show cats/kittens should usually be bathed at least weekly when being shown. However, I have owned cats that require a bath on Monday and then again on Friday for a Saturday show. Some exhibitors get up at 3 a.m. to bathe their cats on the morning of the show. Personally I prefer to bathe on the Thursday night before a show. I like the looks of the coat better a few days after the bath.
Use your best judgment, according to your cat’s coat and skin. If the cat isn’t going to a show, it’s easy to get by with a weekly “maintenance bath,” which doesn’t include the little extras we do for a show bath, yet will keep the coat clean and brushed out well. This is quite necessary otherwise the coat may mat.
Preparation For The Bath
Before bathing your cat, the coat must be prepared. Your cat should be laid on his stomach while on the grooming table. (Cats are less likely to be as active in this position).
Begin by brushing the coat out well with a gentle slicker brush. Ideally, the coat is mat free. Any mats must be removed; otherwise, they will only worsen with the bath.
If there are any stained areas on the white part of the coat, now is the time to apply the stain remover/shampoo so that it may soak while you are doing other grooming procedures.
If the coat is greasy or the cat has stud tail, apply “Goop” (or a degreaser especially for cats) to the effected area of the coat while it’s dry. Leave on and allow setting until the cat goes to the tub. Do not use any color enhancing or stain removal shampoos on the tipped part of a silvers’ coat.
Trimming The Nose and Around The Eyes
There are certain procedures done only with silvers and goldens and one of those is trimming above the nose leather in order to reveal the nose liner. While the stain remover/shampoo is soaking, and perhaps the Goop, apply a small amount of shaving cream to the nose liner area with your finger or a cotton swab.
Using a sharp razor blade (or bikini razor), gently shave with the edge of the blade, left to right, right to left (if you are right-handed). Do not dig into the skin, but gently shave. (A dull or jagged blade is more likely to nick the nose leather).
Newbies should practice on cats that aren’t going to the show! A small straight and even line is preferred. Don’t shave the nose up too high.
Using hemostats or tweezers, gently remove any black whiskers from the face. They are a distraction. Remember that showing is a beauty contest. Be careful to pull only one whisker at a time and to grasp close to the roots without grabbing other hairs.
While standing behind and to the side of the cat, hold the cat’s head with one hand and carefully trim around the eyes, using 5" straight scissors, removing longer strands of hairs and eyelashes. This makes the eyes appear more open.
Do not do this while standing in front of the cat. You may feel more comfortable using the blunt nose scissors.You may like using small curved scissors for this.
Last of all; clean the inside of the cat’s ears. This is done last since the cat will most likely shake his head afterwards and you wouldn’t want that going on while using scissors or a razor near a cats face, ears and eyes.
Note: If you are concerned that soap may get into kitties eyes, place a tiny drop of plain, unscented mineral oil into each eye prior to the bathing. You are now ready for the actual bathing of your cat.
We refer to giving the cat a bath, but in actuality we will be giving him/her a "shower." Place your cat in the tub or sink area. Face the cat away from you to the left or to the right or directly in front, but not facing you. Otherwise, you are giving opportunity for the cat to escape while jumping onto you. By starting your kitty out early and always handling your cats carefully, yet with authority, your cats will learn to tolerate baths and trust you to do the job without causing injury to them. It’s up to you to build that trust. I have bathed many cats that no one else was able to bathe. With practice, you can too.
I sometimes use a small, soft toothbrush on the face with a tearless shampoo made especially for cats. Using a small, soft cloth or baby washcloth on the face works well too.
With one hand on the back of the cat, run the water in the hose until you get a comfortable luke-warm temperature, suitable for bathing an infant child (body temp). Test the temperature of the water on your arm and not your hand) prior to putting the hose head on the cat. Our hands are able to tolerate much warmer water. Notice that I said, "Putting the hose head ON the cat". This cuts down on the noise of the spraying water, which is what usually annoys the cats most. If the sound of the water still annoys the cat, cover the hose with a small towel or sponge while it's running and let the cat hear the sounds and see them, but at a lesser level. (Most definitely do this on the first baths).
This is about the time when a cat that will become nervous and beg you to stop! Don’t let this make you nervous and upset too. Stay calm and soothe the cat with sweet talk and gentle touch while continuing your work. A cat will only become more nervous if he/she senses your apprehension. If a cat is extra edgy, scruff and put down a wet towel for the cat to stand on and grasp his nails into. Cut the bathing session short this time. As cat calms, decrease the amount of restraint you are using.
Remember that cats do not like to be restrained so only do this when absolutely necessary. You may increase time spent on each bathing session as cat/kitten adjusts. Once the water is the correct temperature, begin wetting the cat with the hose in one hand and working the water in with the other hand while rubbing the cat and gently talking with him/her. Once the coat is completely wet, turn the water hose off.
Apply your favorite shampoo. There are many shampoos to choose from---human & cat—so try them and see which ones work best for your cats with your water. I like to use slightly diluted "Dawn" dish detergent or a degreasing shampoo such as “Pure Pet”, for the first lather or two, then mix with a Delimonene cat safe professional quality shampoo. These shampoos are meant to be diluted or else they are too thick and difficult to rinse out. They are organic and have the correct PH balance for cats. Citrus is a natural degreaser so it works great on cat coats.
I like to use a small sponge to work the shampoos in, but don’t do a lot of scrubbing. With the exception of the foot pads and toe nails, since they absorb odors. Simply bring the shampoo to a good lather all over and then rinse.
Always start at the head and work back whether you are bathing or rinsing. While rinsing, use one hand to constantly work the shampoo in and out until the coat is completely rinsed. Apply shampoos again and repeat the same procedure. You will usually get a better lathering the second time. Then rinse again and lather one last time. Rinse, rinse and rinse some more. You will actually be spending more time rinsing than bathing the coat with the sponge. This is the actual bathing and cleansing of the coat.
After the third and final bathing and lathering, (unless you have used a conditioning shampoo), massage conditioner onto the entire coat, then rinse, rinse, rinse. Conditioner will not only condition the coat, but it will also cut down on the static electricity created from the dryers. Again, gently working the coat with your hands until the coat rinses clean. Rinse, rinse and rinse some more. It’s impossible to over rinse! Once the coat is rinsed completely clean, it should feel squeaky clean. Turn the water off. With your hands, rub off excess water from the coat, in the direction of the growth of the hair. Then apply a towel to the cat in the tub and pat the coat. Do not rub.
Trimming the Ears and Nails
Pick your cat up in a towel (it has a calming effect like bunting a baby) and take him/her to the grooming table. Wipe the eyes and face and ears with the damp towel or a baby wash cloth.
While the cat is wrapped in the towel, check around the eyes for any straggly hairs that were missed and clip with the scissors. Separate the ear tufts from the ears and gently trim around the top of the ears, removing access feathering and making them round.
(Note: Doing this while the ears are wet, you can easily see the ear leather and are less likely to cut them.) Sliced ears do not regenerate and they will also bleed quite heavily! Be careful!
Again, having the cat wrapped in the towel and wet usually makes for less squirming. The more seasoned cat, as shown above, will not require any restraining.
The most opportune time to clip the nails is while the cat is wet and bunted because it’s easier to find and see the nails on longhaired cats; consequently, less likely for accidents to occur. Also, wet nails are softer and easier to clip.
Do not clip down to the pink quick! Remove only the white part of the nail just below the curve. If the nails are extremely long and the cat is expected to be uneasy, you may prefer to clip the nails prior to the bath. Wet the feet first so the nails are easier to see. This may help save you from a few scratches.
It's not so much the nail cutting that cats object to as it's having their paws held and "pinched" enough to extend the claw. Don’t forget to clip the dew claws.
Another method for easily clipping the nails is to have someone hold the cat against their body with both arms under the cat’s legs. All four paws can be easily clipped from this position, standing in front of the person holding the cat, without ever moving the cat.
NOTE: All trimming and nail cutting should be done at home in a relaxed atmosphere and not in the show hall! There are too many distractions adding to a higher risk for an accident.
Cage and Fluff Drying in the Cage
Carry the cat to the vented holding pen for some drying time and well deserved rest time. DO NOT USE A PET CARRIER! They are plastic and there is not enough ventilation in those crates and a cat can become overheated. Do NOT use people dryers either as they get too hot, too loud since they are not designed for use with animals.
In the meantime, clean and vacuum your grooming area to remove any loses hairs, etc. from the table, preparing it for use during the fluff dry.
Place your cat on the table and begin fluff drying the coat.
You may want to use a grooming sleeve to protect your arms from the heat of the fluff dryer while it rests on your arm.
Use a gentle slicker brush and continuously brush the coat in all directions until every hair is completely dry. The cat will most likely turn around and walk around, that’s fine- just work with the cat as he/she moves. Have plenty of patience! Stand the cat up on back feet to get the stomach area brushed and fluffed. Practice makes for perfection.
Once the coat is completely dried and fluffed out, you may hand scissor the face with thinning shears or hand pluck to give a rounded, natural looking appearance.
You want the face and head to look well kept and neat -- not untidy or over-plucked but just natural looking. Personally, I don’t like extremely long ear tuffs -- longer than half the length of the face.
I think it is a distraction to the face; however, don’t clip them too short and don’t clip them any sooner than a month before the show.
If there is heavy coat growth around the rectal area, clip some away. At the show, you can brush it around.
Remember that use of a wire slicker will give you more volume than a steel comb. A steel comb will remove more coat than a slicker and add static electricity.
Best of luck at the show with your beautifully groomed cat!
About The Author: Pamela R. Martin has owned a grooming & pet supply shop in South Carolina since the mid-80's. She has been breeding silvers since 1996. Grooming partime, she now enjoys vending at shows with her hubby. She makes all sorts of handmade cat items, such as beds, litterpan covers, cage curtains, dresses, jackets & vests, stud pants, crate covers and cat nip pillows.