Katie Gwilt is founder of The Kat Lady and in this episode she shares how she set up her business as a holistic cat groomer and behaviourist.
Katie always loved cats, and found herself running her dream business of working with her feline friends after a terrifying experience with her health and several sets of surgery.
After taking time to recover, she set her heart on supporting cats and their humans, helping cats in need and discovering ways to make their lives happy and healthy.
Katie is such an inspiring lady and is doing incredible things in the cat care space and it is so exciting to be able to share them with you in this In The Spotlight episode.
You can listen in on the player link below or read the key topics as a blog post.
Hi Katie, can you tell me about your background?
I’m Katie, The Kat Lady, and I’m a mobile cat groomer, and I’m based in Liverpool but I cover all of the North West from Stoke on Trent to Lancaster, Bolton and Yorkshire.
I’m also trained in microchip implantation, and do animal reiki, and Zoopharmacognosy using botanicals, herbs and essential oils with cats.
How did you come to start your business?
I went to University in Sussex and studied Biochemistry and Neurobiology and went into scientific sales, selling products and services into laboratories.
It was never a passion of mine and towards the end of my working in sales, I’d started to get really disillusioned and I wanted to do something else.
But I was tied to quite a nice salary. I was living down in Croydon and went to Cambridge for work and I was walking with my client to his office when I suddenly collapsed.
I was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, and had lots of tests done and found out I had really severe endometriosis.
This is where the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus and it had formed all around my kidney, around my bowel, and I had cysts on my ovaries and in my abdomen.
So I had to stop working. I had seven surgeries over two years and had to sell my flat, and move back to my mum’s in Liverpool.
Then, as I began to recover, I managed to get Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia which is chronic pain.
I was also made redundant, lost my grandmother and got divorced, and I thought, ‘Well I can do anything I want now.’
I saw an advert for a cat sitter and thought, ‘I’ll do that.’
How did your business grow from there?
After a few years cat sitting and easing myself back to work, I realised I was still as ambitious as I was before I was ill.
I realised it was time to set up my own business and it was so fab to realise you could set up a business, work with cats, do what you have always dreamed of.
Now I can work with cats full time and while it was a horrible way to get here but it was worth it.
I was getting better, doing more and more cat sitting and I wanted to have more control over what I do, and be in charge of my diary with my health.
So I looked into cat grooming and went to the Cat Grooming School in London, rang them in December 2019 and booked to train in January 2020.
I studied cat behaviour, then Zoopharmacognosy and began using herb kits for cats, first on my own cats then my grooming clients.
I’ve also studied self selection, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupressure and Animal Reiki. There are so many things you can learn!
How did you get the word out there about your cat business?
I started out on Instagram first, then Facebook, then LinkedIn and also blogging.
I wasn’t ready to approach the press for a while, but I did your blogging course, writing one a week, and that helped.
The blogs would be stories about the cats I’ve worked with, showing the grooming process and sharing their background stories.
Once a month is cat story who may not have had the best start in life. One was Barry who found himself in rescue and who wasn’t very well.
He had dementia and had got lost, he hadn’t been abandoned. (Read Barry’s story on Katie’s website here.)
He had very sore eyes and a matted coat, so I did my best to help, then his owner was traced.
I was able to write about the reunion, which was very emotional.
I was able to carry on working with him and his family as his groomer, and stories like that, it just moves me so much.
How do you get the most from your blogs?
I make sure the titles are searchable and what your regular cat parent would put into Google, so ‘My cat’s fur is matted,’ or ‘How do I make my cat happy?’
I made up fliers as well. I set up during Covid so I didn’t have access to vets and pet shops, a lot of it was online.
But now that’s possible, and I do collaborations where I can, and work with local rescue centres who put my fliers in their adoption packs.
How did you build up your confidence when it came to being visible?
I do struggle with imposter syndrome and think, ‘Who am I to say I’m an expert,’ but people come to me for advice and I want to help.
I think it’s taking time, building your experience doing what you’re doing and the more you have, the more stories you have to draw on, the easier it becomes.
Can you tell me about some of the media opportunities you’ve had?
Yes, I was in Your Cat magazine recently and the journalist approached me via LinkedIn for a feature on hopes for cats in 2022.
I had the chance to write about educating cat guardians so we could make our cats the happiest they could be.
It went in the January edition and iPet Network contacted me as they have started an Ofqual registered qualification in cat grooming.
They have a salon in the North West and their cat tutor was stepping down and they approached me about being their Head Cat Grooming Tutor and I said yes!
What will that mean for you?
I can potentially open a salon in Liverpool so they students can come in more days and come out and shadow me when I’m doing the mobile grooming.
So they get to see the two different sides of grooming because mobile home grooming is so different from grooming in a salon so it will give them a really nice rounded education.
There’s also the opportunity to write some editorial content for them, and to be involved in helping shape the curriculum for the course. I’m so excited.
What’s your advice for anyone feeling worried about putting themselves out there?
We’re in this industry to do the best we can for the animals, so put yourself out there and be yourself.
My work is about helping people understand their cats and their behaviour, so they are healthy and happy.
It’s thinking about what’s best for the cats, rather than thinking about me!
Want to find out more about Katie and her awesome work?
Visit Katie’s Website: https://thekatlady.co.uk/
Follow Katie on LinkedIn
Follow Katie on Facebook
Follow Katie on Instagram
And if you’d like to work with me like Katie has since September 2021, check out my Pets Get Visible mini-membership which is just £20 a month!
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read In The Spotlight with Karen Rhodes from Luxury Dog Hampers or From blog to award winning pet brand with Michelle Burgess from Scruffy Little Terrier.