While I was cleaning out the garage several days ago, I came across an old box of SAT vocabulary flashcards, still pretty much intact despite being used by both of my daughters. I decided to take a few minutes and peruse through it hoping to come across some words I actually recognized. When the majority of your day used to be spent with fourth graders, it is easy to lose familiarity with “grown up” words.
I came across the word “paradox” about halfway through the box. The moment I read the definition I thought of my cats, Gracie and Benjamin Bunny. In my opinion, their behavior towards grooming fits the definition of paradox perfectly. A paradox is something apparently contradictory in nature. My cats are obsessive groomers. They groom themselves, each other, and occasionally my face at 4:30 in the morning. Yet, the moment I come near them with a brush their attitude towards grooming changes drastically. Neither of them wants anything to do with it.
Every cat “caregiver’s” manual I have suggests that a cat “caregiver” should groom their cat at least once a week. Apparently, no one told my cats this important piece of information. I have already discussed my views on giving my cats a bath in a previous post. Body armor of some sort is a necessity when attempting such a task. But I never imagined I would need track shoes if I wanted to comb the litter bits out of my cats’ fur.
Let’s start with Benjamin Bunny. His fur is much denser and longer than Gracie’s although both are considered short hair cats. He does groom himself from time to time. But mostly, he relies on Gracie to meet the majority of his grooming needs. Even she, however, cannot seem to remove the enormous amount of litter bits that seem to attach themselves to Bunny’s fur.
That is where I come in. When you really think about it, it would seem logical that a cat would welcome grooming help since the goal of grooming is to improve physical appearance and maintain health. Nope! Not according to my cats’ way of thinking. To them it is viewed as an insult, and therefore must be avoided at all costs.
The only way that I can even attempt to groom either of my cats is to use the “sneak attack” method. I wait until their bellies are full, they are relaxing in a stretched out position, and they are completely unaware that I am holding a fur brush. I usually go for Bunny first since he is the fastest runner.
The moment he feels the brush against his fur he will pop up to standing position and begin whining. If I continue to try to brush him, he will emit a louder whining sound and start moving quickly towards the first tunnel toy he can find.
A pause by me will sometimes give him enough time to become distracted with a toy. The moment he appears pooped from playing I try again. The goal is to remove as many litter bits as possible with my brush before he makes a run for the tunnel toy again.
Unfortunately, the result is the same every time. More litter bits stay on than are removed, and Bunny inevitably escapes to the safety of a tunnel toy from which it is virtually impossible to remove him without suffering physical pain.
Gracie likes to torment me when I try to provide some grooming assistance. The sneak attack method is also necessary when approaching Gracie with a fur brush of any kind. But unlike Bunny, she does not immediately jump up when the initial brushing begins.
She will act like she doesn’t mind at first, lulling you into a sense of victory. At that precise moment, Gracie will suddenly rise up, stretch, walk several steps away, and plop back down on the floor. This process continues over and over again. We cover as much of the house as Gracie feels necessary to ensure that I wear a little more of the tread down on my running shoes.
I am not sure why I just don’t stop and walk away when this happens. Maybe it is because I always have a glimmer of hope that the next “plop down session” will be the one in which she caves in and lets me groom her. Or, maybe I do not take defeat lightly. I don’t know. But a growing voice inside me hints that Gracie enjoys our weekly routine a little too much.
My unsuccessful attempts to groom Gracie always end when the brush is ceremoniously bitten, indicating this is not an activity she is going to tolerate any longer. Fortunately, I have learned how to hold the brush so that my fingers never come in contact with her teeth.
Despite everything I have described, I know that I will attempt to groom my cats again next week. I may need to invest in better running shoes first though.
Until next time, remember…
One is never sure, watching two cats washing each other, whether it’s affection,
the taste or a trial run for the jugular.
- Helen Thomson