In many industries, common misconceptions about the necessity of certain services and products can often doom a company before it even gets started.
But Lisa Menze, owner of a number of pet grooming businesses in the Largo area, has never been one to let misconceptions get in her way.
So when people laughed and told her she would never succeed with a cats-only grooming and boarding business, she disregarded their doubts and went ahead with her plan anyway.
One year later, the owner of the extremely successful Cattitude, a feline exclusive resort on West Bay Drive, is glad she did.
“People told me I was going to be bankrupt. They were waiting for us to fail,” she recalls. “But I spend a lot of time listening to the voices in my head.”
From Horses to Dogs to Cats
Menze, a nationally certified master dog groomer who also worked in the show horse industry, is singlehandedly trying to change perceptions about cat care.
The Virginia native, who recently made news for helping a dozen dogs rescued from a Sarasota hoarder, has been in the grooming business for over 20 years.
After opening her latest business, , in 2008, Menze decided to delve into a field that relatively few people in the United States have explored: cat grooming.
“In 2011 I attended the National Cat Groomers Institution of America in South Carolina — it’s the only school in the world devoted 100 percent to cat grooming,” she explains.
“Since I was already a nationally certified master dog groomer, I wanted to be the same for cats. Anything I’ve ever done with animals I wanted to do the right way, so this was no different.”
Following her schooling and after passing stringent certification exams, Menze is now the only certified feline master groomer in the Tampa Bay area and one of fewer than 100 in the entire country.
Cats Need Love, Too
While dog owners notoriously pamper their beloved pets, cats are often left to fend for themselves when it comes to care and grooming.
“In the grooming world, cats are second-class citizens,” Menze said.
The reasons for the neglect range from misinformation to myths.
“People think cats clean themselves. They don’t clean themselves, they lick themselves,” Menze said. “I’ve never seen a cat clip its own nails, I’ve never seen a cat comb its own fur.
“The idea that cats are clean because they groom themselves is a myth.”
Since most cats are never properly groomed, dirt, oils and dander build on their fur from the time they are kittens until adulthood.
This buildup can lead to a number of health problems, both for the owners and the animals, and that often causes people to falsely believe they are allergic to cats when they are really allergic to their filthy fur.
“People think they’re allergic to cats, and often it’s not true. It’s all in the dander,” Menze explains.
By utilizing techniques she learned in school and equipment specifically designed for cats, Menze is able to completely and correctly groom all breeds of cats.
And that includes putting felines in water.
“It’s not true that cats are afraid of water. You can’t treat a cat like a dog, you can’t stand them in water, but you absolutely can bathe a cat.”
Menze is so confident of her services she has offered a money-back guarantee ever since she opened Cattitude.
“We will give money back if people are not satisfied with our services," she said.
"Ask me how much money I’ve given back," she adds. "None.”
Address: 1931 West Bay Dr.
Hours: Mon - Sat, 7:30am - 5:30pm