Moving in with your partner often means duplicate things: CDs, books, kitchen gadgets, and even living creatures. But unlike having an extra toaster, you can’t just give your extra feline friends to the Salvation Army. And so it came to pass that Kristyna and I shared our living space with not one, not two, but four, count ‘em, four long haired cats.
Not only do we have four long haired cats, combined, they pretty much cover the entire visible spectrum of fur. Alex is black and white, Simon is “shaded” silver. Stella is a tortie, and Emily is a calico. Black, white, grey, silver, brown, red. There is no surface in our house nor clothes in our closet which do not bear visible cat hair of some kind.
Last summer, we had heard of a technique which could not only help eliminated stray hair, but also those hairballs that are so pleasant to step on in the wee hours of the morning on a bathroom run. As a bonus, it would also help the cats cool down. That technique is the “Lion Cut”. Now, if you haven’t seen a formerly long haired cat who has been “Lion Cut” let me assure you, it will inspire fits of laughter. The poor cat is shaved pretty much to the skin all over, but with some hair left on the lower portion of their legs, a tuft of hair at the end of their tail, and of course, their “mane”. Needless to say, three of our cats hated their new do, and one (Stella) loved it.
Well, humor aside, the other benefits of a shaved pussy quickly became apparent; we did indeed see fewer hairballs, and magically, only some of the surfaces in our house still showed cat hair! Clearly, the Lion Cut was worth the $50 per cat we had spent.
Summer past and winter came. We let the cats keep their natural hair during the colder months, but then spring came, and in Chicago, lasted about 3 days before we plunged into summer heat. It was time: shave the cats.
This time, however, the economy wasn’t do well (it still isn’t, as the time of this writing, may your reading find you in better times). So money was tight, and the cats needed to be shaved again… so I announced to my fiancé “You know, $50 per cat seems awfully steep. How hard can it be to shave a cat? I have some good clippers, and it would save us a ton of money.”
My fiancé looked up from her computer and said, “What?”
“I’m going to shave the cats myself. It’ll save us $200!”
She responded with hysterical laughter.
A little miffed by her lack of confidence, to the bathroom I went and set up my little cutting station in the bathtub. I had my clippers, my kitty shampoo, my towels, etc. all ready to go. Now for the cats.
The first cat was our oldest, and our grumpiest. Surely, I thought, she will be the worst. So I started with her. She growled and whined, but overall, was a pretty copacetic kitty. I was able to do her underside, and even the dreaded “potty cut” without too much trouble. When I was done, I washed her, dried her, and sent her on her way.
Thinking the worst was over, I grabbed my little angel, Alex. Okay, he’s hardly a little angel. He’s a co-dependent, jealous beast who pees on my bed if I come home smelling of another cat. But he also likes to play in the shower when I get out and takes a bath okay, so I figured he would be easier.
I got Alex when he was a kitten and, because I don’t believe in it, I had never had him de-clawed. Normally, I put Soft Paws on him, but he had a few missing as I started to shave. Big mistake. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Alex was going to be trouble. It might have been the growling, but I suspect it was the blood coming from my arms that really clued me in. I tried to reason with him, “It will be over sooner if you cooperate. It doesn’t hurt, see? When we’re done, I’ll give you a treat.” But Alex was having none of it. What took me half an hour with Emily was taking well over an hour with Alex. But I persevered. Soon he was shaved and we moved on to the bath. By this time, I was about as wet as he was, drenched in sweat from all the kitty wrasslin’
I though the worst was surely over. After all, Simon and Stella were both much smaller than Emily or Alex, and they were pretty good natured cats. I think the heat was making me delirious, because it slipped my mind that one of our nicknames for Stella is “Squirmy Girl”.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Hell Hounds? The beasts that guard the gates of Hades? Well, let me introduce you to one in disguise, she takes the earthly form of a cat, and her name is Stella.
She growled, she hissed, and worse, she bit. And she did this all while writhing and squirming. Greased pigs are easier to hold than this cat. She would alternate between trying to bite me and bite the clippers. After an *hour* of wrestling and clipping, wrestling and clipping, I had her one-half shaved… trying to hold her was like trying to hold a ten-pound water snake… she’s lucky I didn’t have a bench clamp handy. And I was extremely lucky that she had been de-clawed. Had she not come into my life minus claws, she would have surely eviscerated me there in the bathroom.
I was more determined than ever to complete the job. I was soaking in sweat in our hot little bathroom, I was bleeding from many scratches, hair was *everywhere* and she was only 3/4 shaved. She was howling, twisting, and snapping. Beware the Jabberwocky? With jaws that bite and claws that catch? Fuck the Jabberwocky. Beware Stella. It was a standoff. She finally escaped my grasp and stood at the door, staring me down with the fires of hell illuminating her eyes.
Well, she’s still only 3/4 shaved. I just had to give up. She was the last. Our youngest kitty escaped the ordeal altogether. I had not the strength to go on. And I still had to give her a bath.
Licking my wounds, I managed to give her a bath. Or at least to wet her hair down and get rid of the clippings. When she was done, she shot out the door and I collapsed on the bathroom floor.
Never, never, never ever again will I bitch about paying someone else to groom the cats.