Sunday, March 18, 2018

I TOLD You He Was Chill!

Seeing as how I promised to write about Smokey’s experience at the vet’s “tomorrow” on the 1st of March, and it is now the 18th, perhaps I will live up to my promise. 

As all who know the-cat-who-would-be-king are aware, he has a very long dense coat. His guard hairs are very coarse and he has such a thick undercoat that it’s difficult to get a comb through it. I groom him from 45 minutes to an hour a day, which he loves, but he is hot, winter and summer, and he loves to go out on the balcony and lie in the snow. So he sheds, and sheds and sheds and sheds. I get a compacted fist-sized ball of hair off of him every day. 

And, sorry if this is TMI, but he has always had a bit of a delicate digestive system. Feed him two different flavours of food on the same day and he gets the runs. Accidentally leave Hobbes’ dry food so Smokey can steal a few bites and I’m cleaning cat poo off of everything in the house, including him. He’s very intolerant of having any poo at all on himself, so he will stand at the bathroom door and yell until I let him in the bathroom, where he jumps on the bath bench and gets a wash, and a dry, though a certain amount of snarling goes along with the drying. Clean we like, yes, but he sees no point in the towelling when the sofa would soak up the water just fine.  

After the fourth time in a single day I’ve had to clean him, and the floors, doors, walls, bath bench, and anything else he swiped his poopy tail on because some people (mostly Papa but sometimes me!) have walked off and left Baby Cat’s bowl unattended a little irritated Mama gets yes, she does. 

So, when we got to the vets I asked her if they would please shave Mr. Smokey from his neck to his tail. Leave the head and legs hairy, shave the rest, especially around his rear end. She said they certainly would do a “hygiene clip”, but do not normally shave cats because they freak out and require sedation, and they don’t do that. 

I tossed what little self esteem I possess to the winds, threw myself on her mercy and begged until she said she’d ask the girls to “try”, but if they could do it usually takes about 20 minutes and costs $120. However, if he was uncooperative they’d stop at the hygiene clip. I said, "He's a pretty chill cat, please, just give it a try." 

She took him to the back and when she returned we extricated Hobbes from the crate he couldn’t stand half an hour earlier and she began his exam. 

Five minutes into Hobbes’ exam she leaned in the direction of the door to the back room and said, “The clippers are still going.” On with Hobbes’ exam. Another couple of minutes, “The clippers are still going.” Another couple of minutes, “The clippers are still going - and they are laughing. I’ve got to see what’s going on.” And she went out the back door of the room. 

When she came back a couple of minutes later she was roaring with laughter. “They started with the hygiene clip,” she said, “Then one held him while the other came up front and started to shave his chest. As soon as he realized what they were doing he shook off the gal holding him and lifted his head up so they could shave his neck. Then they shaved his back. Now he’s rolled over, lying on his back, and they're shaving his belly, he’s even held out his front legs to be shaved. They’re not even having to hold him, he’s stayed absolutely still the entire time, and he's purring like mad. He’s loving it! He’s got to be the most laid back cat we’ve ever seen. They’ve never shaved a cat they didn’t have to hold down!” 

He was so chill it only took them 10 minutes to shave him, and cost $60. Well worth the money. Admittedly he looks like a bulldog, with a big head, blocky body with four square corners, a big broad chest and little short legs, but the haircut looks pretty good. I'm not complaining. 

My guess is he was kept shaved as a kitten, and remembered the routine. He’s much happier since he was shaved, no chasing Hobbes around and beating the living spit out of him. His hair is now about 1/2” long, and we’ve decided we’ll keep him shaved from now on. He’s much easier to keep clean. Both of us are happy about that. 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

He "sings" like a pig caught under the farm gate

Yesterday was “the day”, the one we mark on the calendar and look forward to with trepidation and fear. Yesterday was booster shot and annual exam day for 'the boys’. The moment the crates are brought down from their perches in the closets the boys’ devil-may-care attitudes vanish and they slither like two furred snakes under the beds.

I drop a big towel in each crate, along with a generous tablespoon of catnip. They may not do any good, from the cats’ point of view, but they make me feel better. Of course we can’t just open the crate doors and issue invitations. But fortunately our boys tend to panic and run from bed to bed, and thus can be scooped up during a transit.

In turn each one’s crate is stood on end. Hobbes has to be put in head first, Smokey back feet first. Doors secured, crates loaded on the cart, winter layers on, pocketbook in hand, trusty cane in hand and we are ready for our driver, Gail. While we wait for her to arrive, Hobbes begins to warm-up for the performance, because Hobbes is not *just* the quirky orange tabby who loves strawberry yogurt, steals plastic bags and destroys cardboard boxes, Hobbes is a Felis silvestris catus with ambitions. 

Hobbes resting after his performance 
Hobbes wants to go on the musical stage, and not just to sing in Jubilee Auditorium productions of “Cats” or “The Lion King”. Hobbes aspires to sing on the stages of the Great Opera Houses of the World; The Metropolitan, Vienna Staatsoper, La Scala Milan, The Liceu in Barcelona, Teatro di San Carlo, The Royal Opera House in London. I could go on, but you get the drift.

For this trip, as far as I could determine, he chose as his performance piece an intensely dramatic aria from Verdi’s 'Otello', loosely translated as “God, how could you?”. Verdi used Shakespeare's tale of Othello as his libretto, so of course you know the story; the insecure older man, an African general, marries the young and beautiful blonde Desdemona, who is devoted to him. But his wicked, jealous and bigoted second-in-command, Iago, manages to convince Otello that his wife is unfaithful. Otello, heartbroken and maddened by grief, kills her, and then himself. But just before he dies he realizes he has been tricked and kills Iago as well.

You may see Placido Domingo’s incredible performance of this piece, taken from the film produced and directed by Franco Zeffirelli, here, though the audio seems to have been tampered with and Domingo's magnificent tenor has been dropped into a decidedly baritone range. Still gorgeous.

Sadly Hobbes has yet to attain Domingo’s command of melody or tempo or… to have exhibited any musical talent whatsoever, and as a result his interpretation lost a good deal in execution. However, if enthusiasm counts he cannot be faulted. He went into full throttle when our front door opened and his performance continued unabated until his crate door was opened at the vet’s. How so many decibels can emerge from a 6.5 kilo (14 pound) cat is a mystery to everyone who hears him.

Once out of the crate and on the exam table he was the proverbial pussy cat, docile and friendly, never even flinched when he got his needle. And he was eager and delighted to get back in his crate for the ride home. He sang a less onerous aria on the way back, possibly something from Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘HMS Pinafore’.

Smokey is not a G&S fan and grumbled at him the entire way home. There were sharp words between them afterwards. But Smokey was fine with the ride. As long as Smokey can see I’m in the car he’s chill. Smokey’s outing was extraordinary for an entirely different reason. Tomorrow, I hope, I’ll have time to write about that.