We aren't a grooming parlor, but we DO get involved in feline grooming issues when a groomer can't or won't tackle it. Sometimes this is because a cat is simply too fractious (I like that term - it sounds so much less judgemental than "nasty") to be combed or shaved, and sometimes it is because the groomer sees something scary about the cat's condition and alerts the owner that medical attention is needed, not simply grooming.
Either way, when a cat comes to us with grooming issues, we always start with an EXAMINATION. By the DOCTOR. In the EXAM room. And yes, we do charge for this exam. It's part of what I consider appropriate medical care, and is essential so that we can do a thorough evaluation of the cat's overall needs (we don't treat fur - we treat PATIENTS) and give an accurate fee estimate.
You'd be surprised at the vast number of phone calls we get from people demanding a bath and combout or shave WITHOUT my ever examining the patient. It would be funny if it weren't so sad, because this demand is usually AFTER the receptionist has already explained the need for an EXAM.
And no, we can't tell you how expensive it will be to combout or shave your cat, who we have never seen before, without having a good look at it. We don't have a magic crystal ball to intuit the concomitant kidney failure, or out-of-control hyperthyroidism, or advanced oral cancer that we sometimes see in cats presented for "grooming".
I try not to get frustrated by these things, but it's hard. Especially when it's clear the owner doesn't care nearly as much about their cat's medical well-being as they do their own personal convenience or entertainment budget.
We had a cat come in recently that was old and decrepit, and badly matted. When we got done shaving her, it was hard to tell which was the pile of fur and which was the cat. It ended well - she went home feeling much better than when she came in. But it was scary - and she isn't the worst I've ever seen.
So, which is the cat? And which is the fur? You decide.
Disclaimer: The cat depicted is alive. No cats were harmed in the production of this blog post.
Helpful suggestion: Grooming implements