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Huge grooming problem

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
This is my first post. My good friend has a black long haired persian who liked being groomed when he was a kitten. Unfortunately he developed a very bad cancer and had to have a portion of his jaw and some other teeth removed. He was at the vets for 6 weeks. He is doing very well now and with his hair grown back you can't really see his deformity - however he does NOT want to be held and does not want to be touched except on his head and back. Because of his surgery he has difficulty grooming himself - but I guess they all have difficulty with the long hair. He has bitten the groomer and now they are reluctant to groom him. He recently was shaved at a cost of $350 including the cost of anesthesia. He is now constantly grooming but his his hair is growing back in. My friend's concern is that she cannot afford to have him anesthetized everytime he needs to be groomed.
So the question is, what can she do to condition Zhivago to be able to tolerate her grooming him, and then be able to get him shaved without anesthetizing him? Any clues, hints, links, resources, advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much,
post #2 of 4
Welcome to the site, Russ.

I would think the only thing she can do is work with him very slowly to make him comfortable with grooming again. Poor Zhivago went through a very traumatic experience, and it will probably take a while to get him back to the way he was, if ever. Take baby steps, don't push him beyond what he feels comfortable with. Praise him when he does good, give him treats if he's treat motivated. If he isn't in the mood, just walk away and let him have his space. I would start with just being able to touch him, pet him, little bits at a time, all over. Again, he will let her know when it's too much with his body language. Watch for dilating pupils, tail flicking, skin crawling, just being a bit testy. When you see these signals, stop petting, tell him he's a good boy for letting you do it, and leave him alone. Don't let it get to the point where he is biting.

Hope this helps!
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hello Heidi-
Thanks for the reply. From the little bit that I am finding online, you are right on target. Is there a book or pamphlet that you know about that details this process? From my limited knowledge of behavioral psychology, I know this can be done, but it has to be done with rewarding small behaviors in the right sequences to get the desired behavior. I am sure that somebody must have this written down somewhere. Isn't the internet great? By the way- what kind of "treats" would you use? (obviously I don't give my cat treats - does that make me a bad cat dad?)
Thanks again,
post #4 of 4
I don't know of an article that explains steps. The thing with training cats is that you have to be consistent. When conditioning them to trust and accept things they are initially uncomfortable with, the key is to go on their schedule not yours. If he accepts pets on the head and back, every so often pet his side. Then praise, praise, praise! Most cats are so attuned to positive reinforcement, that this can be enough.

As for treats, if you don't want to give Zhivago food treats like Pounce or Whisker Lickin's (those are the two my cats LOVE), treat him in whatever thing he enjoys the most. When he lets you pet him more, bring out his favorite toy, something like that. Anything that he likes a whole lot, so that when you are pushing his comfort zone he knows something good is going to happen. More positive reinforcement. Once he is comfortable with getting pets all over, bring in a soft brush and go through the same process. By the time you get to the brush he should have the program down that if he allows it, he gets rewarded with praise and "treats" (see below).

No, it does not make you a bad cat dad if you don't give your cats treats. Some do, some don't. No big deal.
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