Sweety Pie Kajal Goes Under 

It’s the 5% of cat types that all groomers dread. A deadly combination of:

1: Aggression

2. Severe stress and

3. A heavily pelted coat.

Entering my clients home, one evening, I was greeted by a huge silver coloured Persian with a face like a large moon and as hairy as a bear. His name was Kajal and he seemed really sweet natured…Well, he was until….

A beautiful moon face greeted me

A beautiful moon face greeted me

I took a deep breath. I knew that it would take me a while to comb out the dead hair from K’s coat, and to shave out several ‘assumed’ matts, but I only understood the severity of his coat condition once I picked him up in my arms. This was one rare time whereby I had failed to actually ask the client how matted their cats’ coat was!

Kajal’s coat was matted all over under the top layer of grey fluff. From his neck down to his paws Kajal was heavily pelted. (A pelt is a matt that has been left to gather more hair to the point whereby it becomes too tight to the skin to comb out. It causes bruising to the skin and can cause a lot of  discomfort and pain). Only the central fur along his back was clear of matts due to the fact that this was the only place on his body he allowed his owners to comb. I was already warned that he hated being groomed but entered the home with confidence that my expertise in handling cats like this would shine through and Kajal would be manageable.

It all started off fine as Kajals’ dinner, a tasty bowl of tuna, was placed on the grooming table to distract and relax him whilst I started shaving his sides. This seemed to go quite well. I told the client to keep him hungry until I arrived and the plan seemed to work…. For a short while! 😉

The howling started after dinner was finished which was fine. I am used to cats using their vocal chords to intimidate the groomer. I knew I wasn’t hurting him and the client could see that very clearly too. Sometimes Kajal howled and I wasn’t even doing anything at that precise moment. All this is learned behaviour and most likely stems from a bad grooming experience connected with pain. Cats have extremely good memories. As time passed, and I was going as gently as I could, Kajal became more and more stressed. Even the catnip mouse I had bought for him did little to change his mood. His crying became louder each time. Having to move him in various positions, to get to the matts, was not going down well at all but I had little choice. He must have felt like a pancake being flipped over and over. I hate leaving a cat with so many tight pelts so I continued to shave, taking small 5 mins breaks for Kajal whenever I could.

When Kajal’s stress levels became too much (heavy panting and heart going faster than a racing car) I knew time was very limited. I had managed to get most of the coat off but there were still some serious matting on his arms, chest and feet. I decided enough was enough. Kajal would have to be finished, by me, under anesthetic at the vets, a decision I do not take lightly due to certain ‘minimal’ but risks all the same, involved.

Once I start a job I hate to let my clients down. I do all I can to help them as I know too well, with cats like Kajal, Clients are left in a quandary as to how to move forward with the grooming of them. Other groomers had refused to handle Kajal due to his stress levels and their local vets would not groom him under sedation. Not sure why?

Dr Carmichael

Dr Carmichael

At this stage I would like to introduce you to a lovely, local to me, old school vet called Dr Carmichael.

Dr Carmichael is an honest gentle man. I knew that straight away from several things that made me smile after my first visit to him with my own cats Kiki and Zaza.

1. The reception area in his practise is full of bottles of olive oil, on sale, made from his own olive grove in Crete. Beside the bottles of olive oil are beautifully crafted wooden utensils and salad bowls. Something you never expect to see in a vets practice ;-). It made me smile. Here is his olive oil web site: 😉

dr carmichael in crete

Dr Carmichael in Crete

Dr Carmichael's assisitant

Dr Carmichael’s assisitant

The second thing to put a smile on my face is his old black moggie who ‘helps’ him on every consultation. His cat sits on the side and watches everything going on. You almost think the cat is going to pass a stethoscope to Dr Carmichael as he slots in like a vets assistant and looks so wise with it too. I bet he has seen everything imaginable.

The third and final moment that put a smile across my heart is his words “You don’t need that. Save your money” after I asked him to do some unnecessary boosters on Kiki and Zaza. It’s not often you come across a genuine person who is not obsessed with making a quick buck.

I spoke to Dr Carmichael, after telling him I was a cat groomer/behaviorist, about difficulties with certain aggressive cats and he immediately offered a solution “Why not bring them here and you can use one of the rooms downstairs to complete the groom under sedation”. I asked how much he would charge me but he just smiled and said ” nothing to you but I would have to charge the client for the anaesthetic”. I couldn’t believe he would be so generous and thoughtful and I said yes straight away – and thank you of course!!

And so, back to Kajal.

A day later, and unfortunately for my clients, the day of the tube strike, Kajal and daddy made their way to Holland Park for the final part of the groom. Kajal was going to get a lion cut. Under normal circumstances I hate this kind of cut, especially when clients do this for fashion purposes, but when I or them, have no further options the lion cut has to be performed.

Kajal was checked over and his heart listened to intensely before the needle with the sedative was injected. Before that Kajal was hissing at the vet who was trying to gently touch his feet. I sat with Kajal for 20 minutes as he slowly dozed off in his carrier.

P1060388Once Kajal was out for the count I made my way down the stairs and laid him out on one of the tables. It’s a really odd feeling grooming a cat that doesn’t move or make a sound. If I’m brutally honest it’s heaven LOL. I had, roughly, 25 minutes before the sedative would start to wear off so I quickly got to work and within 15 mins I was finished shaving, including combing out the matts on his feet, and his paws, tidying him up with some scissor work, and cleaning all around his chops, his eyes and his ears. He was a little lion and looked so sweet despite the fact I was still nursing the wound from one of his bites the day before. P1060391

I called the vets assistant to let her know I had finished and she injected Kajal with a serum to wake him up again. I stayed by his side stroking his body until, 15 mins later, he started twitching and opening his eyes.

He was carried in a blanket to one of their cages and left to come around peacefully and securely. Even though it’s a quick  safe procedure I was still happy to see Kajal open his eyes and start to move around again. I couldn’t wait to call his daddy to tell him how well it all went and that Kojak was ready to be collected.

What a grumpy cross patch was looking out at me but he sure as hell was going to feel so much better after some din dins, cuddles in a nice warm house and a small catnip mouse waiting for those nails and teeth to rip it apart that little bit more!!


A couple of days later I was sent some lovely photo’s of a much happier Kajal along with a lovely testimonial from his owners……

“Kajal is my blue Persian cat. He’s over 5 years old now and I always had problems with his coat.

His hair gets so long and he doesn’t  like when I brush him on his belly or chest. I try my best but sometimes his screaming gets over me and I just stop brushing him. I used to take him to a Cat Grooming Shop but the last time I did, they called me to come and pick him up earlier because he was getting too stressed and they refused to finish him.

Difficult? who me?

Difficult? who me?

He’s usually very sweet and very affectionate but he cannot stand being groomed. It’s really frustrating because I know I cannot do it myself but also I cannot find someone that was willing to do it so his hair gets quite matted.

I found Anita searching the web, and after reading the whole website I thought I would give it a try. “Maybe she can help me” I thought. I sent her an email, explained about the situation and she agreed to come over.

She came, brought toys for him, her own grooming table, different brushes and clippers. She was so patient,  calming and explained to me the best way to brush him.  Kajal behaved much better than I expected. She had to pause a few times but not even once thought about giving up! professional-cat-behaviorist

When it came to do his legs, we both realised he would get over stressed and she suggested I took him over to the Vets in Notting Hill to finish him off under sedation. She took time to go there and finish Kajal herself instead of having the Vet do it.

Now he looks like a little Lion! He’s so cute!!! I absolutely loved the passion Anita put into her work and the way she acted with Kajal and his whole situation.  I would recommend her 110% ! Thank You Very Much Anita, from me and Kajal J  x 

If you would like to enquire about my grooming services or have a problem with a ‘hard to handle cat’ then please don’t hesitate to email me on

Thanks for reading!


About Anita Kelsey - Cat Behaviour Consultant

Anita Kelsey holds a first class honours degree in Feline Behaviour and Psychology (work based BA Hons) and runs a vet referral service dedicated strictly to the diagnosis and treatment of behaviour problems in cats. She is also a qualified cat groomer and specialises in grooming aggressive or phobic cats. Anita writes for Your Cat Magazine and is on their experts panel answering readers questions on cat grooming. She also advises on feline behaviour for the CFBA (Canine and Feline Behaviour) magazine as well as being a full member. Anita is based in Notting Hill, London but consults all over the UK as well as international requests. She lives with her husband, a music producer, and two Norwegian Forest cats, Kiki and Zaza. Anita's debut book, Claws, Confessions Of A Cat Groomer is published by John Blake Publishers and is out on 7th September 2017 (available for pre-orders on Amazon UK)
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  1. marketaz says:

    Lovely tale. Hope he can be now kept matt free. He does look cute with the lion cut! 🙂


  2. Kathy says:

    Aw♡ How sweet! I am taking my Maine Coon mix for the first time for some pelting under his arms/legs/neck…I’m very upset, as I thought I was doing a great job.His coat is otherwise gorgeous. Poor guy, and my fault. Wish I was in the UK, I would call you!! So caring!! Keep up the wonderful work!! 🙂


  3. Angela says:

    Wish I lived near to you. My Maine coon cross is heading to the vets tomorrow to have his matted fur removed. I’ve been told it’s not a ‘cosmetic cut’ so he won’t be pretty! Vets nurse just cutting out the matts so he will look patchy. It’s a job that needs to be done but I’m sad that he won’t look even ( he has more matted fur on one side)


  4. Nancy says:

    Glad you showed pictures! I just had our cat, who was a stray, groomed. I told them she WILL need to be sedated. I called t see how she was doing and I was told she did great. Then I get a phone call saying that she was nicked when she was being trimmed. The tech told me that Callie was curled up in a ball. I thought hmm how can that be when you can “stretch” them out to trim them and by looking at your photo my thinking was right. Now I’m so upset I will definitely have to find a new groomer and vet as her vet also is a groomer. I’m so upset and sad for my furbaby!!!!!!


  5. Oh man. If I were closer! Our main coon cross is badly matted. We’ve been calling all of our local groomers in the area and none will groom an aggressive cat. We had him shaved (lion cut) last year at a groomers and they swore they’d never do him again based on his behavior and the stress it put him through. After reading this, and not being able to find any local (San Diego, California) groomers who want to cooperate, I fear we’ll be calling our vet. Do you have any thoughts on using like Benadryl or CBD Oil to calm the cat before a grooming visit? Several friends have recommended both, but hubby and I are worried about the side effects, dosage, etc. Thanks~ Lisa


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