Dharma came home from the groomers Tuesday a much silkier and sweet-smelling kitty. However. She thinks we stink and should be taken to the groomers. AND SHAVED.
It’s a funny thing, cat-stink. Cats are self-cleaning, by and large. Sure, the longer-haired cats need our opposable thumbs and a brush to prevent ugly matting…and sometimes a sick cat will just stop grooming and need more frequent bathing…and outdoor cats, well. They get into all kinds of nasty things no amount of licking (ew! ew! ew!) can remove entirely.
But indoor, short-haired cats like Dharma tend to (ahem) offend far less than their outdoor cousins, because they don’t get to roll around in, erm, stuff.
But still…eventually…It Happens. Bath time!
Might take months and months. The average around here for our previous cats was six months or even a year for Silverfish (short haired, fastidious), versus about every three months for Briana (long hair, not a bit vain) (unfortunately) if we were brushing her religiously…MONTHLY if we got lazy.
It wasn’t smell with Bree, though – it was mats, which would get bad no matter what we did eventually. If we stayed 110% on top of it, we could keep them at bay enough that a professional could tease out what we couldn’t handle.
If we didn’t (and I’m ashamed to confess that ‘didn’t’ happened an awful lot), that poor girl would get mats so bad that the groomer would have to shave her…she came home looking like natasha’s cat Pasha, only Briana was a lovely silver-gray all over. (You have to read this. Seriously. I about died laughing, it reminded me sooooo much of Briana – who also hated being brushed, especially in the way you had to brush her to prevent the dreaded mats.)
Anyway, with the short-haired, indoor cats who are only bathed / groomed because of the smell…well, it’s the darnedest things. One day, she’s in your lap purring and you’re stroking her sweet, silky fur and all is well with the world…the next day, she jumps into your lap and she smells like a poop-and-tuna sandwich with mud dressing, and her fur feels kind of rough. WTF?!
With an outdoor cat, you can understand this. They get out there in the big bad world, they roll in stuff, they chase down woodland creatures and eat them (which can be a very messy business, believe me), they play in fertilized rose beds (grrrrr…), etc. etc. etc.
No surprise that an outdoor cat might come home smelling like low tide at the sewage treatment plant.
But something I really don’t get is the suddenness with which our indoor cats will tip from “I don’t smell anything” to “holy @*&^@, what have you gotten into?!?!”
Dharma spends 85% of her daylight hours asleep on one of the six beds in this house. 10% she spends sitting on a convenient lap, and 5% on sunny ledges throughout the Den – especially in the early morning, when a very convenient ledge in a relatively quiet part of the Den receives the first warm rays of the sun. She has trained her human slave (that’s me) to leave that shade up enough for her to lounge full-length with her head and ears alertly raised.
It took some doing to get the point across, though…one morning she stood next to me yowling as I made coffee, making short dashes out the kitchen door toward (I thought, silly me) her food dish. I kept going out and shaking the dish. She kept yowling. Finally, she went over and showed me what she wanted: She stretched out and pawed at the heavy wooden blinds blocking her sunny ledge, HELLO!!!!, then turned, looked me in the eye, and let out the most piteous yowl you ever heard. My sun! My beautiful Suuuuuuuun! Let it in! LET IT IN!!!
But she doesn’t like the shade all the way up. That’s too much light, and furthermore makes it hard to skulk on the ledge. Denizens are attracted to the window when the blinds are all the way up. No. They should be up just enough for Her Most Royal Self to stretch out full length, head and ears up, without brushing the tips of her ears on the blinds. No more, no less. Or there shall be yowling, and repeated dashing from between my legs to the ledge at @*^&@ o’clock in the morning.
She is a real character, this cat.
But anyway, that’s her life in a nutshell. Beds, laps or ledges, that’s about it. The occasional brief romp with a rubber band somebody accidentally left on the floor (I’m nervous about the cat playing with a rubber band…I have visions of her swallowing it and then having it do Very Bad Things to her innards) or the yarn I’m working with (but never, you know, a cat-toy-on-a-string, PLEASE! How crass! Common, cheap, commercially-made thing, for ME? ‘Tis to laugh! Ha! Ha! Ha! Now, about that cashmere you were working with yesterday…)…running away from That Horrid Boy…trying to kill the humans by running between their legs on the stairs…but as far as I know, she spends none of her time digging through the trash looking for a nasty Pull-Up to roll in, or sneaking out into the garage to have a frolic in the worm composter. She doesn’t play in her litter box or deposit her goods anywhere else and then roll in it.
And yet, after six months of sweetness…PEEEEEEEE-YEW! Dude, what’s in your FUR?!
Now, it is entirely possible that changing poopy diapers for going on eleven years straight may have dulled my senses a bit, such that I don’t notice a slowly growing odor coming from the cat. Maybe I don’t smell anything until it gets to the point of actually being a visible aura around the animal. What’s what wavering line all around her body? Wait…is that…STINK?!
And then there is the undignified process of confirmation, where I pick up the cat, shove her under my husband’s nose and demand, “Does she stink?!”
And then upon confirmation, well. Bath time, princess!
And then we have a most displeased cat stalking through the house plotting revenge.
Well. She’s going to be even more annoyed with me soon. I just got the reminder in the mail today that she’s due for her six month checkup. Given her age and medical history, she’s going to be seeing her vet Johnny On The Spot for these, too. With a kitten or a young, healthy adult cat? Nah, we’ll see the vet annually, that’s fine.
For her twelve year old self with her bladder issues and her tummy issues and an owner who abruptly lost one of her last fur-babies (Briana) to renal failure and I mean it was like one day I noticed she was maybe getting a little skinny and within a month she was dead?
Sorry kiddo. You’re seeing TED* every six months, whether you like it or not.
You’ll thank me in the end.
(No, no she won’t. In the end she will probably leave me a nice slug of poo in my sneakers. But that’s OK, because she will be as healthy and happy as we poor humans can arrange for however much more time we get to have with her, hallelujah, amen.)
*TED: The Evil Doctor
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