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Lessons Learned from a Feline Specialist: Mercedes's Story

This blog is brought to you by Mercedes Schenk and the MoeGo Community 🧡

A quick Internet search might convince you that cats can groom themselves impeccably. With their agile tongues and meticulous habits, our feline companions seem to have all the tools necessary for maintaining their pristine appearance. Yet, beneath the surface lies something often overlooked – depending on the age, breed, and coat types, a cat's grooming schedule can vary anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks.

That's why we reached out to Mercedes Schenk. For Mercedes, cat grooming goes beyond simply keeping their fur clean and shiny – one of the biggest responsibilities she has as a cat-exclusive groomer is to educate individuals on the proper care and hygiene of these wonderful creatures.

Meet Mercedes

Mercedes Schenk (@the_meow_mobile), the owner of The Meow Mobile, brings her expertise as a Fear Free Certified feline specialist. Currently, she grooms an average of 60 to 80 cats per month as a feline-exclusive in-home groomer in Arizona.

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Debunking Old-School Cat Grooming Myths

CleanShot 2023-08-11 at 13.23.13@2xYou've heard it all before: cats groom themselves, cats are independent in nature, and cats are the perfect low-maintenance starter pet. These age-old beliefs have circulated for years, leading many cat parents to believe that cats require little to no grooming care. When we asked Mercedes about the common mistakes cat parents make, her answers were eye-opening.

📢 Cats Lick Themselves - They Do NOT Groom Themselves

We know our feline friends lick themselves all the time. They do have tongues covered in lots of tiny bristles, but it doesn't mean that they are actually “cleaning” themselves – they are simply distributing saliva all over their fur and ingesting hairballs throughout the process.

“A cat licking themselves and calling it clean is the equivalent of you eating a bag of hot Cheetos,” Mercedes provided an example. “You lick your fingers and decide that it’s good to go.”

🛁 Not All Cats Hate Water

For years, it has been widely believed that cats and water are sworn enemies. We picture them resisting any encounter with a bathtub or body of water, prepared to use their claws and teeth to defend themselves. However, Mercedes's extensive experience in feline grooming told her otherwise – “cats do really well with water, if they are introduced to it properly.” By taking the time to properly introduce cats to grooming procedures, Mercedes ensures a positive response from her feline clients for a smooth and calming grooming experience.

🗓️ Cats Need Regular Grooming Every 4 to 6 Weeks

Like many other animals, cats can develop odors, shed their fur, experience matting, and have nails that desperately need trimming. "Regular maintenance and preventive care are essential in preventing them from getting into these unfortunate conditions," Mercedes noted. "Depending on the age, breed, and coat type, grooming schedule can vary anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks." This includes nail trimming, ear cleaning, and ensuring their coats remain free from knots and tangles. She also said that at-home care is an important factor. "Combing with the right tools is key, but bathing them is essential." 

In addition, regular grooming doesn't just benefit cats; humans can also reap the rewards. “When people have an allergic reaction to cats, it’s actually the proteins in a cat's saliva and urine that they are allergic to,” Mercedes said. "Regular grooming can reduce the allergen that cats distribute throughout their fur when they lick themselves." 

The Essential Expertise of a Feline Specialist

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Cats have a unique way of communicating their needs and preferences, and it takes a skilled and dedicated professional to understand and cater to them. “My reality is that most people don't know cat groomers exist,” Mercedes said, “So by the time they find me, it's because the cat is in such a desperate and unfortunate condition.” Cats often reach her in distressing conditions, with severe matting, ingrown nails, and even wounds from neglected grooming needs.

🧡 Counter Conditioning and Positive Associations: A Gateway to Trust

Mercedes emphasizes that a significant part of her role involves counter-conditioning, dispelling preconceived ideas held by owners, and addressing preexisting traumas in cats. "When you take the time to properly introduce them to something, you're going to condition them to have a positive response to it," she noted. This approach paves the way for a smoother and less stressful grooming experience.

🐱 Understanding Feline Panic: A Dog-Cat Mismatch

"Cats do not like full-body restraints," Mercedes emphasizes. Holding cats in a way that triggers panic can lead to misinterpretations of their behavior. "People subscribe dog-like ideas onto a cat," she explains. Unlike dogs, cats demand a different handling approach due to their distinct species characteristics. While dog groomers may navigate challenges more easily, cat grooming requires specialized techniques.

The Quest for Reliable Information

One of the key challenges that Mercedes faces daily is the significant lack of scientific research dedicated to cats compared to their canine counterparts. “The sad truth is that there are a lot of science journals, research, and clinical studies that are done for dogs, but we just don't see that reflected for cats,” she mentioned, "Anyone can write an article, but you have to look back at the credibility." That’s why she founded The Association of Holistic Feline Specialists, a non-profit organization aimed at disseminating science-based research and education on feline health and handling. Through her dedication and commitment, Mercedes is shaping a future where every cat's purr resonates with comfort, joy, and the promise of a better tomorrow.


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