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Cat Maintenance, or If I Die In My Sleep, You’ll Know Why

It is a sad fact of pet ownership that sometimes you must do things to them in the name of their health that they find unpleasant. This includes, in my household, nail trims, baths, and ear cleaning. Unfortunately I’m the only one here to do them, so the Usual Suspects have learned that when I head toward them with a certain determined gleam in my eye, it’s time to scatter. You haven’t seen hilarious until you’ve seen two Dobermans and a German Shepherd trying to disappear into the futon.

The dogs are pretty easy. They give me sad reproachful looks while I carry on with routine maintenance, and when I’m done they claim they’ll hate me forever but two minutes later have forgotten all about it. The cats, though.

The cats.

Aida needs her nails trimmed periodically. I did it last night. This is a huge production because Aida also hates me. I’m not sure why, she’s lived with me since she was 12 weeks old and it’s not like I beat her. When guests come over she hovers around them, telling them lengthy stories of neglect and abuse. But if I want to get near her to, say, trim her nails because the time has come when she is sticking to the upholstery in the house every time she tries to move, I have to sneak up on her while she’s asleep and towel her. Then, under a stream of loud Siamese abuse and threats, I must carefully fish each individual glossy brown paw out of the towel ball, taking care to keep the other three scythe-tipped paws and also her teeth safely sequestered, and clip the nails.

You know what they say, right? If you’re going to grab a tiger by the tail, don’t let go. I’m here to tell you, gentle reader, that if you must wrap a Siamese cat in a towel and carefully trim all 18 of her pointy as hell claws, you had better find a way to be five miles away before she gets out of that towel. What’s even worse than the whole set the towel down veeery carefully at arm’s length and then back rapidly away in the hopes that I will be long gone before she escapes thing is the part where she stalks me afterward. For a preference, she hovers at the edge of any light, the better to have her eyes reflect the fires of hell. She’s doing it now, and the nail trimming was more than 24 hours ago. She will not be swayed by processed cheese slices, which she normally devours, or cooked hamburger, or even cooked hamburger with a processed cheese slice melted on it. Nope. Nothing less than my fresh blood will do.

Meanwhile, because I have a death wish, I have cleaned Roo’s ears. You might not expect that the fine hairs that grow in cat ears serve any useful purpose, unless you own a Cornish Rex cat like Roo who doesn’t have them. Then you realize that those hairs are actually blocking a LOT of dirt which you must now gently and painstakingly clean from the cat’s ears. Roo does not like this. While normally his ears are large enough to pick up Radio Free Europe and you can look straight down the canals and see his tiny little walnut-sized cat brain, when he sees the ear cleaner and the cottonballs come out, he somehow manages to origami his ears into something the approximate size of a spitwad. Then I must wrangle him into my lap, pin him down, carefully unfold each ear, which is a two-handed job right there, and then somehow manage to swab it out with a moistened cottonball before he can refold it and suck it back into his head. In the meantime, he protests by falling over and playing dead and occasionally viciously gumming me. He’d get toweled for this if he had any teeth, but since he doesn’t and I don’t come out of it bloody but rather covered in cat spit, he is unrestrained and I get the full effect of his hateful gaze. It’s something like this.

Which is nothing to the hateful gaze I get from him when it’s bath time, because occasionally he needs a scrub down, being (like some C-Rexen) prone to being a little oily and yeasty on occasion. Bathtime gets me first stared at angrily, then cursed inventively and loudly, and finally he comes for my face.[1] Still, ear-cleaning is not far behind baths on the List Of Things That Cause Roo to Plot Murder.

That’s two out of three cats plotting my death. I made a move toward Braxton earlier with the nail clippers and the towel and he laughed at me in a menacing fashion, so I’m leaving it for now. If I’m still on his good side, I just might survive the weekend.