Systematic desensitisation and counter-conditioning (DS/CC) are the main techniques that behaviour professionals use to change a cat's response to a specific triggers (stimuli eg. water) in a variety of situations.
In the Grooming salon these triggers include water, clipping, blow-drying, other cats and nail clipping.
If done properly and slowly over period of time, these techniques can have a desirable effect on a cats reactions and behaviour to grooming. The goal is to replace the unwanted emotional reaction (fear, anxiety or aggression arousal) to trigger with a more relaxed, calmer reaction.
To be successful, there techniques must be done every day by the Cat Owner, in order for the cat to accept the Grooming stimuli that it is fearful of.
If a Cat is scared of the blow-dryer to the point of stressful flight and fright reactions, we can work on slowly having the cat accept the dryer but starting the dryer in a separate room, giving the cat treats or positive rewards, and over a few days having the dryer in the room (with wide distance) keeping the cat calm with a sock over the ears and positive reinforcement, to over weeks, or even more, the cat accepting the dryer on the coat. (Some cats require drying to prevent matting and hairballs)
I am of course, not a behaviour professional, always work in conjunction with a Veterinarian or Feline Behaviourist.
Here is a video of a cat that has been doing desensitisation in my salon, at home.
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