Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Of cats and haircuts

Disclaimer: we would never, ever intentionally hurt any of our animals.

We are torturing our cat. We are drugging him and holding him down and threatening him with sharp implements. And yet, with all of that, we are still no match for an angry cat with flexibility, teeth, and claws on his side.

What we are actually doing is trying to cut the mats out of Aspen's hair, hence the sharp implements (although the razor we are using is actually a pet grooming tool and there is no danger of cutting Aspen with it.) The drugging is a veterinarian prescribed sedative designed to calm him down, and the holding him down is largely ineffectual. We were attempting to save Aspen the stress of traveling in the car and going to the vet's office to be groomed – and us the $150 (minimum) expense – by grooming him ourselves at home. When our vet gave us the sedative, we were told to give Aspen half of a pill and then wait for thirty minutes or so for the drug to take effect. If he was not drowsy enough after that time, we could give him the other half of the pill, but no more than that in one day. After both halves of the pill and one hour, there was no noticeable effect on Aspen. It was only once we called the vet for advice that we learned that the medication does not always have the desired effect on every cat. In fact, some cats actually have the opposite reaction and become more hyper with the medication. Just our luck, Aspen seems to fall into the second category. We tried two different medications and several different times to get rid of Aspen's mats but were eventually forced to give up and take him in to be groomed. (His belly area, where many of the mats were located, was thoroughly protected by eighteen razor sharp claws which he had no qualms about using against the hands that feed him.) We knew that he would not be happy about being groomed but we hoped that he would come to see the necessity of it and at least accept it. Knowing Aspen, we should have known better. The first thing Aspen did when I looked in his carrier at him and told him how cute he looked with his new haircut was to let out a loud noise that was some combination of a growl/hiss/high pitched yowl. Once home he promptly ran downstairs and hid under my brothers bed, refusing to come out for the next five hours. It did not help, I suspect, that when my mom saw him as he slunk out of his carrier she burst out laughing and exclaimed, “he looks so scrawny!” Granted, he did look much smaller than his usual self which is bulked up considerably by his thick coat, but I wouldn't say he looked scrawny, exactly. He was given a lion cut, which means that his body was shaved down but the hair was left on his head, tail, and arms from the elbow down.

He has had a few weeks now to recover from his ordeal and I think that, while he would prefer to have his normal hair, he has gotten used to his new look and it doesn't bother him much anymore. This change in attitude is due partly, I think, to the fact that we have been telling him over and over again how much he looks like a lion. A “big, fearsome, gorgeous lion,” and “aren't we lucky to get to live with such a handsome lion?” The copious amounts of half & half and tuna we gave him didn't hurt either. All the same, I think that everyone involved - humans and cats alike - would rather not have to go through this again any time soon.

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