Book Review – ‘Claws: Confessions of Professional Cat Groomer’


The image of a typical cat groomer is one of an aproned individual, armed with combs and clippers and a compliant kitty on the table.

Talk to Anita Kelsey and you’ll learn that nothing is further from the truth. And she has the scars to prove it.

In her new book, “Claws: Confessions of a Professional Cat Groomer,” Kelsey introduces us to her feline challenges. Her grooming expertise, combined with her designation as a cat behavior consultant, are key to her success. She approaches her charges with a cool eye and sizes them up thoroughly before laying her hands on them. Of course, they size her up as well, after they’ve exhausted the patience of their owners.

Kelsey is one of a small group of holistic, low-stress cat groomers in the UK; she is the only one with a degree in cat behavior. She takes into account the mind, body, and spirit of the cat.

What the owners and cats have in common is that they’re both at their wits’ end – the owners with the difficulty in grooming and the cats with their long matted coats.

Although she’s armed with her leather arm gaiters, it’s often the catnip toy or Da Bird that works the best. And patience and creativity with both the cats and their owners.

Chubby Tubbs was too fat for his cat flap (cat door, keep in mind that Kelsey is British), but Kelsey took advantage of that to trim his nethers region when he got stuck.

To groom Tilly, the scream queen, Kelsey required back-up from her husband and they got through the process amid Tilly’s ear-splitting shrieks.

Harry, “the four-pawed assassin,” was so combative he required grooming under serious sedation.

Sammy was just the opposite. He appeared to pass out while being groomed, and Kelsey thought he had died!

And then there was Felicity, who screamed and chased Kelsey down the street. Felicity was not a cat. She was Denzel’s owner and her controlling behavior made grooming Denzel impossible.

Amid the 20 stories, Kelsey provides information about various cat breeds, tips on grooming (start early, she recommends), nutrition, and various aspects of cat care. She also looks to educate the owners, leaving behind tip sheets to make life easier.

Returning to Kelsey’s scars, a bite from “Kitty” to her hand resulted in an infection that led to surgery and six days in the hospital. It shows just how quickly a cat can react, despite all precautions – catnip distraction, Elizabethan collar, towel wrap… Kelsey acknowledges that a groomer must pay attention to each warning “rumble in the jungle.”

But regardless of how recalcitrant the kitty, Kelsey approaches him or her with patience, determination, and humor.

Who doesn’t love the image of a longhaired fluffy kitten? But who is prepared for the challenges of grooming that kitten when he is fully fanged and clawed… and that fluffy coat has become matted.

“Claws” is a great gift for just that person, some who just got their first kitten, or their first longhaired kitten after a history of shorthairs. But for everyone else, it’s a fun read and offers insight into the challenges behind the combs and clippers.

Order through Amazon.

For a signed copy, check out Kelsey’s Esty shop.

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About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

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