Zen and the Art of Shaving a Cat

Lambing is all done, I’ve done my author ‘thing’ in Atlanta, so now it’s time to get down to the really important business of spring: shaving our barn cat Pumpkin.

Pumpkin has long, thick hair that mats badly over the winter; by spring it’s formed tight weaves that pull at his skin and make it hard for him to scratch or clean himself. Last spring our friend Amelia helped shave the cat, but she’s crewing on an 80-ft sailboat off the coast of Maine…some excuse.

Since Melissa is skilled with the clippers, she needed unskilled labor (me) to hold the cat. I was afraid, very afraid. While he’s friendly, Pumpkin is a barn cat, and doesn’t take kindly to being told what to do, or to being restrained.

I dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, found a thick towel, and opened a can of nummy cat food (as a bribe for the cat, obviously.)

I was ready.

We sat on the front step and the first side went well as I held and Melissa shaved. But the novelty soon wore off, and Pumpkin wanted to leave. There was much cat wriggling, wrapping of cat in towel, more cat wriggling, more wrapping, more cat wriggling, and several near-escapes. When his efforts to escape didn’t work, he started growling low in his throat, not a friendly sound.

Somehow, we finished the job without any bites or scratches, and ended up shaving off mats so large they could have doubled as a redhaired man’s toupee.

I was so proud of myself. Look at me–I’m a farmer and I shaved the cat. I’m brave and fearless in the face of sharp claws and a growling feline.

But then I realized that all I did was face something that scared me, and people do this every day. People confront bosses or neighbors or deliver bad news or give speeches or just do something that’s outside their comfort zone. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for all the scary things we do.

People ‘shave the cat’ every day; there just may not be an actual cat, or actual shaving involved.

7 thoughts on “

  1. Very stylish cut and much more comfortable. Do you think she might need sunscreen? RP (Rachel’s puppy) is our red, psychotic, schizophrenic toy poodle, who attacks only me…I am determined to have a relationship with this pup, We actually have to have him tranqed in order to be buzzed. Glad to hear the lambing went well. Debbie

  2. I just finished the “lambing” section of your book-youmust be relieved. I have never seen a cat shaved with the exception of having an area shaved for medical reasons-interesting-now what ya gonna do with the fur?

  3. Our kitties have to get crew cuts every summer. They are Manx and without a tail its apparently hard for them to pass hairballs — so no hair, no hairballs. But they are very flighty cats — so they have to be drugged before they get their hair cuts — we talking $$$ at the vet’s! One cats thinks she is hot stuff after her cut, the other sulks around the house, hissing at her.
    I take my hat off to your courage! I wouldn’t try it with these two!

  4. Tranquilizers! We gotta get us some of those. Yes, the vet is WAY expensive, which is why Melissa has become our ‘vet.’

    Pumpkin’s much happier half-nekkid because now he can actually lick and clean himself. As for sunscreen, come on down! I’ll stand back and you can put it on him!

    Doesn’t he look like a miniature lion?

  5. a very good lion cut to say the least. whether or not Pumpkin appreciates it is really not what we are talking about here. i think he will be much happier though. I used to shave the dogs and cats when I lived in Chicago.

  6. I honestly don’t know if I’d have the guts to undertake such an endeavor.

    My Punkin is an elderly gent now (about 18), and I’m afraid that if I gave him a haircut like that he’d die of offended dignity.

    Since I have six cats, I would also have to perform the same delicate procedure on the others. More likely, they would go off somewhere and hide for months.

    Catwoman is especially proud of her tortoiseshell coat, and wouldn’t be caught dead without it. And Mister Huggins, a “Halloween” kitty, would certainly not look very scary without his luxurious dark locks.

    I’ll be at the Second Annual Minnesota Garlic Festival in mid-August. As you know my cousin Marienne and uncle Willard very well, I hope to see you there.

    This year, maybe they’ll have garlic ice cream.

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