Grooming Time

Since The Confinement★ the cats and I have been getting better acquainted. They connect me to Nature, sentient beings to love and to study, to observe. They tell me when to take a nap, when to eat (I rarely know that, so win-win).

I am an apprentice in the craft of trimming their claws. The essential factor in not hurting them is to have the strongest possible light so you can see where the quick ends.† Since I’m here every day and have no scheduled “temporal obligations”‡ other than Yoga Wednesdays it’s easy to check paws daily, trimming claws when necessary, combining that with grooming (tight flea comb followed by nubbly brush). One paw per cat per day in clockwise rotation. They don’t have to endure too much at once. A groomer or vet would have tighter time constraints. This is a luxury.

The strongest possible light available to me, here, is late afternoon sun from the West window. When that floods the salon it’s Grooming Time. Always followed by Food Puzzle Time. They know what’s coming next, I think they do know that. They act like they do, so Behavioral Modification and all that stuff. It’s what I want anyway.

Luna is the most averse, I try to do her first. Now she only half-heartedly hides. If I return to the couch and wait, doing something else, she eventually returns from under the bed to be captured. She benefits from bundling, a technique recommended by a local friend. You calm a cat by wrapping it in something you’re wearing that opens in front. They all benefit from that.★★ Luna’s claws are the thickest.

Next up is Lilou, quite compliant now (she is the smart one, knows the score). Her claws require only minimal clipping, she’s a more diligent scratcher. Finally Henri Cat wobbles into my arms, purring. He purrs during the clipping and then during the grooming. He purrs a lot. Now that it’s warmer we comb and brush daily, and as the sole longhair he’s the most sheddy. It feels good to lose excess hair, and grooming is what their mother did, which they now do with each other (and, rarely, with me).

CAST OF CHARACTERS: Les Trois Mousquetaires (NTS insert picture of the trio)

Luna, The Mystic

Plain Jane tabby, forlorn nondescript member of the Three Mouseketeers I encountered in a parking lot near Condom. I wanted two cats, because one cat is just sad, and besides I am an old cat myself now, not interested in active play (my previous pair, as kittens, used to wake me up from my cancer recovery drug-induced slumbers by running across my head at 2am, but that’s another blog).

Was I going to separate three kittens who knew only themselves and their missing mother and their missing brother and now these strange large creatures offering food?

She was first out of the cat carrier when I opened it in the bedroom. I tried to feed her cat baby formula from an eyedropper. She had one taste then jumped out of my hand to go exploring. Later that evening she fell asleep in that hand. Glad I didn’t reject her for being less photogenic than the other two. I call her The Mystic because she stares for hours at something I cannot, try as I might, see. A good match for Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter. She studied a light switch for days and I could see that. Clumsy. Rotund. Emits little “mew!”s. Hides under the couch. Used to do that thing where a cat pretends your shirt is a nipple. She’s outgrown that now. My favorite.

(NTS picture of Luna)

Henri Cat, The Lover

Like his namesake Henri IV he relishes his quotidian pleasures. (His name was a no-brainer given my address.) If he had balls, and if he were allowed outside, he would have as many Official Mistresses as the original. First of the trio to venture forth from the safety of the under-bed to cuddle up to the new Mommy-Daddy. There is only one orange and white male cat, and I love them all (Henri, my sister’s Finbot, my childhood companion Eric the Red). Large but not overweight. Explores more than the girls. More social than the girls. Less cautious than the girls. Stare-downer of a small foofy dog. Frequent lap-user. Doesn’t hide at all. Makes odd loud vocalizations that alarm me, but doesn’t seem to be in any pain so who knows? My favorite cat.

Lilou, the Huntress-Thinker

Named by the mother of the woman who posted the availability of motherless barn cats. I didn’t have a name for her and am aware of the French aversion to giving human names to pets so was glad for advice about what a normal cat name in France might be. It reminded me of LeeLoo from The Fifth Element and Futurama (NTS are these right?). Has mad skills and is scary smart. Has a Lilou-only hiding place on the top shelf of the bedroom closet among the rags. She gets there by leaping from the water table at the end of the bed to the cat-width cat-walk that defines the old kitchen area, then creeping around to the closet. Drew my attention to the fact that the cat-screen in the window had weathered, allowing a resourceful cat to get out and perilously perch on the slippery old slate tiles. She gazed at me from the wrong side of the screen and calmly waited to be returned to the family. I replaced the plastic screen with metal mesh. Lithe body, high metabolism (a tri-color characteristic, they have abnormal chromosomes and are said to be feisty). Talks a lot, usually says, “Now is the time we eat crunchy food.” Lilou is my favorite cat of all time.

CAST OF CHARACTERS: The Dynamic Duo (to be continued)

★ Not satisfied with that term but cannot think of a better one. I admire the collector of oddities (misprinted dice and such like) who, when interviewed on Atlas (NTS link) Obscura manned up, faced the facts, and blandly said, “Well, since The Apocalypse…” 🙂 but that doesn’t work for me, yet.

† Earlier we had two incidents where there was blood (Lilou). Odd that she didn’t even flinch. Blood vessels must extend farther than nerves. I discarded some fancy clippers with depth-setting shields. None of the cats tolerated them. Must have pulled at the claws. Now I use a pair of the heaviest simple ones I could find at Jardiland, the most expensive pair they sell. Sharpness is all.

‡ NTS song title, Dead Can Dance, then link

★★ Previous cats D.J. and Little J. did well with a swaddling type of cat harness. Cats prefer them to the strap type. The first time they wore them they dropped into the “I am hugging the Earth, I am safe here” cat position.

ps This is a direct-to-blog article (no Journal entry), in a calmer state of mind than the last one. The calm is from the grooming.

pps This article may an antidote to the previous one (link), which I think of as being in the stream-of-consciousness/chaos genre. This one was edited on screen and on paper until it was deemed sufficiently carved up to be servable. I think it a passable piece of writing that I would hand in as ready to be graded. It still has too many words.

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