Every so often a list comes out with the world's most dangerous jobs: Logging, deep-sea fishing, installing power lines, security at Justin Bieber concerts.
Cat grooming hasn't made the list… yet.
It can only be a matter of time. Anyone whose work regularly includes bathing cats should be eligible for hazard pay. Even so, some fearless groomers are not content to let Fluffy go with a wash-and-clip. The new rage in pet beautification is "creative grooming" - using clippers and non-toxic hair dye to create artful designs in the fur of our four-legged friends. Usually practised on dogs, mostly poodles, the art form has recently spread to cats.
"I think it's cute and it's fun," said Danelle German, founder and president of the three-year-old National Cat Groomers Institute of America. "They've been doing that stuff on dogs for a very long time. I thought, 'Why can't I do that on a cat?'"
Why not? An array of sharp claws comes to mindcoloured pom-poms on their tails. "If they're up for it," Ms. Mckenzie qualifies in an e-mail. "If they're relaxed and calm, and only if!!"
Many cats, as you might suspect, do not find grooming to be a relaxing experience. Ms. German says some breeds take to it better than others - pure-bred Persians, for instance, "are coming from many, many generations of pets used to being handled and pampered by their humans." Another predictor of grooming ease, Ms. German says, is whether a cat has grown up with children and thus has experience being "handled," as the euphemism goes.
Cat groomers insist what they do is not cruel. "We never use any harmful products, never push any pet past what they can handle - that goes for basic grooming or creative grooming," Ms. Mckenzie says.
"We're there to make them feel pampered and loved. They get very excited when their owners come back and make a fuss over how good they look and smell."
Despite these stories of happy cats, feline groomers caution that - much like installing power lines - cat grooming is not something that amateurs should try.
"I don't recommend do-it-yourself cat grooming," Ms. German advises, and she's not just saying that to beef up enrolment at her school.
"You really do need to know what you're doing. I've seen people come in with bite wounds and scratch marks."
Rebecca Dube blogs about pets at http://www.paws.ly.