Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to Shave Your Cat

We used to be good pet-owners. We paid lots of attention to our cats, brushed them often, gave lots of scritchies, and played with them all the time. It is deeply shaming to admit that we kind of suck now. We had kids and they ended up occupying the majority of our thoughts and time. We kept our cats fed and still doled out scritchies, but a lot of other things fell by the wayside. Brushing them is definitely one of them. I'm referring to our cats, plural, but we only have one cat now. Our big fluffy Olaf had a thyroid tumor that was causing him to waste away and we put him down shortly before moving back to Montana. We have Mia. Mia is also referred to as "Princess Prissy Pants" due to her overall personality. Despite the prissiness, however, our Mia is absolute crap when it comes to self-grooming. She's even too high-maintenance for herself. Because we stopped brushing her as often as we once did (and because she turns into a furry cyclone of teeth and claws whenever we tried to), she turned into a mass of matted fur - an absolute mess. For a couple of years now we have tossed around the idea of taking her to a groomer to get her shaved. The other night, though, I decided enough was enough. I declared that Clyde and I were going to shave her and it was going to happen IMMEDIATELY. I grabbed our old pair of clippers and mentally prepared myself for the task at hand.

Cat-shaving is definitely a two-person job. One person needs to hold the cat still and ensure that teeth and claws are not able to be implemented while the second person does the shaving. A third person would be preferable, I think - one person to confine the front end, one for the back. We didn't have a third person. The kids, by the way, were put to bed so as to ensure the fewest number of possible casualties. Clyde restrained our unsuspecting beast. The sound of the clippers sent a tremor of terror through her and I approached with extreme caution. I located the first clot to be removed and fully expected an explosion of furry death when I touched the clippers to Mia's fur. No explosion - just a discontented grumbly noise and a deeply incredulous look. Cats are so good at that look. The clot, though, put up one hell of a fight.

The above image shows how much fur was removed upon the first shaving. I like to think of it as the most raggedy Tribble, ever.

Mia was far more stoic than I ever would have anticipated but that's not to say that there weren't a few moments when I thought I just might end up with a bloody stump where I once had a hand. Clyde's Kung Fu grip proved very effective. We shaved off most of her fur on her back and sides but decided we all needed a reprieve. I put the clippers out of sight and pet Mia to show that there were no hard feelings. "See Mia? It's okay that you were restrained, shaved, and humiliated. Who's a pretty girl? You are!" Shaving would commence on Day 2.

This is Pretty Prissy Princess Mia shortly before Round 2. She knows something's up.

Once again, on Day 2, the children were put safely to bed before all the shenanigans. Mia was located and brought downstairs to the scene of the previous day's torment. She knew that something was fishy, though, and made a couple of bids for escape. Poor baby. This was the round of shaving that Clyde and I were dreading most - her belly. Any cat owner will tell you that Touching Of The Belly is a pretty capricious thing. Some cats love belly rubs while others will swiftly end you should you even try. And then there are cats like Mia who vacillate between those two extremes willy nilly. While belly rubs may be sometimes welcome, clippers on the belly is a clear act of trespass.

Belly shaving involves a more creative restraining method. During the first shaving day, Clyde just held her to the ground, belly down, while holding her head and neck still. It was relatively easy. Do you know why cats usually land on their feet? Because they can twist like a corkscrew in seconds. Cats want their feet on the ground. They need their feet on the ground. So putting Mia in a belly-up position was no easy task. We burrito-wrapped her hind legs so she couldn't strafe us with her claws while Clyde tried to hold her in a way that kept her as still as possible and minimized the bite risk. I imagine that attempting to snuggle a badger would be a wildly similar experience. Mia had a lot more flexibility of movement so the shaving happened in short bursts. The burrito wrapping was, I guess, more effective than nothing at all but only just. We both had quite a few more near-teeth experiences than Day 1.

It's worth noting that the belly is not the only area that inspires The Rage when it is touched. The base of the tail and the area around the legs is also pretty dangerous. Mia was like a fuzzy minefield.

The shame!

"God, I hate you"

Raggedy Tribble #2. My hands are in the Tribble pics to give you some scale.

It was not an immaculate shaving job. Her fur is uneven in a lot of places and she looks pretty ridiculous but the important thing is that she is now CLOT-FREE! I have resolved to keep this from happening ever again. We're starting over. I will groom Mia regularly and she will be soft and lovely again. And in case you're wondering, she doesn't seem to be harboring any resentment. She was back to her usual self this morning - meowing at me insistently as I scurried about to get ready for work. Her need for attention has outweighed her pride. That's my girl!

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