SUN CITY CENTER -
People who live or work around felines might think Diane LaPierre is a little bit crazy. After all, who in their right mind would willingly trim any cat's claws?
Someone with a lot of guts, most would say - someone like Diane LaPierre, aka the Kitty Cat Groomer. Undaunted by even the most persnickety cats, this native Canadian spruces up felines for a living using her mobile grooming van.
"Cats need to be handled so differently than dogs. There's no comparison," she said. "You don't just plop them on the table and start working.
"Everything's on their terms. You have to have lots of patience and compassion."
Although LaPierre lives in Plant City, she takes her fully equipped van to wherever her furry clients are. Her service area is all of Hillsborough County and the city of St. Petersburg.
"The mobile unit is less stressful for cats because I come to the owner and the pet," she said. "There are no cages, no restraints, no car rides and no long hours in a salon or rush-hour traffic to deal with."
Originally from Quebec, LaPierre lived in Port Charlotte and worked as a real estate agent until three years ago. After moving to Plant City, she decided to start a pet-sitting business and found herself grooming many of the cats she cared for. LaPierre said she learned the skills from her sister, Marianne, a pet groomer in Canada.
"She taught me to groom my own cats," she said. "I have four."
Six months into pet sitting, she bought a van and had it converted into what she calls a mobile spa.
"It's fully equipped, just like a salon," LaPierre said. "Basically, it is a salon - on wheels.
Now a sole proprietor, she keeps up with the latest techniques and tools of the trade by taking annual training courses and attending grooming conferences. Licensed and insured, LaPierre is certified in pet CPR and first aid. She hosts a 26-member monthly cat-lovers group at various locations in Tampa, teaching about cat training, health and psychology.
LaPierre specializes in elderly, frail and matted cats. Her services include lion and teddy bear cuts, face grooming on Persians and Himalayans, baths and hand-fluff drying, belly and sanitary shaves, de-shedding, facials, soft claws application, toe tuft shaving, flea protection, ear cleaning and nail trimming.
Prices are based on the cat's hair length, coat condition and behavior. The minimum cost is $45.
For an appointment, call (813) 732-7783, e-mail [email protected]
.com or visit www.kittycatgroomer .com.