Cats have died at cat and dog groomers although it is very rare and there are no regulations with respect to the standards that cat groomers have to attain and finally it is better that we groom our cat ourselves. However, this is a personal choice and I am not criticizing pet groomers. This page is about having your cat groomed commercially. It is different for dogs.
Cat Grooming Deaths
I have reported on this before. On one occasion a cat was killed by a dog at a commercial pet grooming parlour. On another occasion a much loved cat died of unknown circumstances at a pet grooming facility – please read this poignant and emotional story. Note: On one occasion many years ago I asked my vet to remove some matting in my cat’s fur. I felt that she was traumatized by the experience. These are strange places with strangers doing something which can be scary to a cat such as using a noisy fan dryer. There is lots of handling. A cat has to be very confident to put up with this without complaint.
The reason why am writing this short article is because today on the WPRI.com website there is a report that a cat died while being groomed at Petco in Providence, Rhode Island. It is an interesting story because initially a Facebook post by relative of the cat’s owner said that the cat (who incidentally was an office cat) had suffered from hypothermia and had died hours later with a cardiac arrest at a local animal hospital.
Hypothermia is a medical emergency during which the body loses heat faster than it can produce it resulting in a dangerously low body temperature. This, on the face of it, seemed highly unlikely. How could a cat lose body heat to such an extent that she died in a commercial establishment? The only possible answer was that the cat, whose name incidentally is ‘Cloudy’, had been shampooed and then rinsed with cold water which had been left on her sufficiently long for her body to chill down.
However, it is impossible to envisage a domestic cat freezing to death in a pet grooming parlour.
The alternative theory suggested by a Rhode Island State veterinarian, Scott Marshall, is that Cloudy died from hyperthermia, which is when the body overheats. This condition can be far more easily explained for the simple reason that in commercial pet grooming parlors they use cages with heaters attached to them and the animal is surrounded by fans which dries them. If they are left in these confined spaces with the drying fans left on for too long they overheat.
Overheating in a commercial grooming facility has been reported before as a cause of death for an animal. Cats don’t sweat as humans do and therefore they cannot lower their temperature through the latent heat of evaporation which is the way sweat cools bodies. If a cat’s core temperature is elevated over 105°F it can be life-threatening. This can happen with the application of a drying machine.
As far as I’m aware, there are no regulations governing commercial dog and cat groomers in Providence. The same I think would apply to nearly every other place in America and the UK. And indeed this state of affairs would apply to most other countries.
It is up to the cat owner to ensure that they are satisfied with the expertise and the facilities of a commercial pet groomer. This puts the onus on the cat owner. Regulations would put the onus on the cat grooming establishment to maintain standards. Not every cat and dog owner wants to be bothered asking questions and checking the expertise of the person who will groom their cat.
There are qualifications, certainly in the UK, that a pet groomer can work towards and of course there are the standard animal welfare laws which govern everybody in their dealings with animals. However, it would be welcome if there were specific regulations regarding grooming establishments. This would sharpen up those working in this sector.
In this instance the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) conducted an investigation and found no criminal wrongdoing. I will assume that they decided it was an accident. If, of course, the cat died of overheating. There may be another cause of of death that we had not heard about.
Other Grooming Accidents
We are told that Cloudy is the third Rhode Island pet who has died while being groomed in the past year according to the RISPCA. We see therefore that there is a certain risk involved when you hand over your pet to people you don’t really know doing something which looks inherently safe and benign but which can lead to complications and on three occasions death. One dog in fact died after he hanged herself while being tethered to a grooming table. I guess they mean that the dog strangled himself accidentally perhaps in a panic.
This concerns regulations and, apparently, commercial pet grooming facilities don’t need to be licensed in the state of Rhode Island but a Bill is being introduced to change this state of affairs. If the law was enacted it would place an obligation on pet groomers to obtain certification based on standards approved by the Rhode Island Professional Pet Groomers’ Association.
Certainly with respect to domestic cats there are many advantages to grooming your cat yourself. It can help generate that close bond and friendship with your cat which you desire because cats love to be groomed provided it is done gently and respectfully. It is not difficult to do and it is also pleasurable for the cat’s owner. And there is no charge. Bearing in mind the slight inherent risk of using a commercial establishment, for me, it is a no-brainer to do it yourself.
P.S. The 2 reasons referred to in the title are (1) lack of regulations and (2) a very small chance of injury or death. There is a third: possible trauma due to the overall experience for a cat.