“Cat grooming is a real thing.”
So says Greenpoint resident Carolyn Ayala, who lays claim to being the first certified cat groomer in New York City.
“So many people think cats groom themselves and they go maybe once or twice a year to have their mats shaved at the vet’s office,” she continued. “Most cats can be groomed and bathed, and they should be. Shaving down your cat twice a year is not cat grooming.”
Working as a dog groomer, Ayala sympathized with cat owners whose pets were being treated by dog groomers using canine equipment. In June 2013, she earned her certification as a Certified Feline Master Groomer (CFMG) from South Carolina’s National Cat Groomers Institute of America and launched Kitty Pride, her traveling cat grooming business. Six months later, Kitty Pride has nearly 100 clients and Ayala is booked almost every night.
Ayala recommends grooming cats should every six weeks, or so, to prevent matting problems, skin conditions, ingrown nails and a variety of other problems that, if ignored, can cause irreversible damage. In addition, she noted, regular grooming cuts down on shedding, eliminates hairballs and reduces allergy problems for owners.
“By the time a lot of our clients call us, they’re desperate,” Ayala said. “There are so many cats in shelters because people don’t know how to care for them. We offer them solutions.”
Because cats tend to be reactive, many groomers are afraid to handle them, Ayala explained. She overcomes much of that anxiety by making house calls. Owners are happier that way too, she said, because it allows them to witness the entire grooming process. Among her services, Ayala shaves, bathes, combs, degreases and de-sheds the cats. She also keeps report cards on all her cats to help strategize for return visits.
“Cat people love their cats and are really protective of them,” Ayala said. “They want to know that I’m legit, that I’m gentle, that everything I do is safe and clean and even that I give some emotional comfort to their cats.”
An appointment with Ayala lasts around two hours and runs $65 – $75 for full service. Additional services are also available. The cost is slightly higher than for other groomers, but Ayala points out that her customers are getting house calls from the City’s only certified cat groomer.
So far entrepreneurship agrees with Ayala who found an unexpected benefit to business ownership. “I’ve lost like 30 pounds and built up the muscles in my arms from lugging around all our equipment on the subway,” she said.
For now, Ayala still has her day job at Long Island City Veterinary Center, but sees a future with Kitty Pride as her full time career. “This city is full of cats with mats,” she said.
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