Zen and the Art of Shaving a Cat
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.