Published on Aug 22, 2012
When Alfred at the beginning of his career told people that he was a pet groomer no one understood what he actually did.
But years later his clients list sounds like a roll-call of Russian celebrities - Moscow's who's who and their pets. At not a whisker short of a couple of hundred dollars for a standard dry-cut, this service is more than a snip, transforming mere moggies into their owners' cutting-edge feline fantasies To those who say his craft is a needless luxury his response is cutting.
"The foremost purpose of what I do is to make it easier for the owner to look after his cat or dog. Also, it is for the pet's own health," he says.
Twenty minutes later -- the job is done and another customer is fit for the catwalk.
Pet grooming is becoming evermore elaborate. But one owner here in Novosibirsk has taken it in a radical direction, causing a lot of controversy.
Today is a big day for Mickey and his owner Oksana. He is getting his first tattoo.
"We live in interesting times and this is a tattoo just for such times," explains Oksana.
It takes three hours on a general anesthetic being a sphinx cat. The owner and tattoo -- or should it be a cattoo artist - thought of going down to the Egyptian past.
"Look! I have a tattoo that looks exactly the same that I'm giving to cat. It is a Tutankhamun's mask!" says tattooist Anatoly
But not everyone is so enthusiastic.
"The ethical thinking of animals in Russia lags behind the West. People here mostly buy animals for selfish reasons and everything that happens to them afterwards is the consequence of that," says animal rights advocate Elena Novozhilova.
In statistical terms, pet grooming in its extreme forms is still very rare. But the industry is expanding rapidly and remains unregulated. As the anesthetic wears off, Mickey is waking up. Whatever he may think about his new look when he sees it, his owner and tattooist seem happy.
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