I believe I’ve mentioned Claire, our beautiful, stupid cat, before. She is beautiful – or she was until a month ago. She started looking…ratty. Unkempt. She has matting issues in the hair covering her haunches, or as I like to call the gnarled chunks of cat hair bristling out around her tail, butt mats.
“BOTTOM mats,” my mom reminds me primly. She is mocking me. Anyhow.
At first I assumed the butt mats were the result of increased fatness on Claire’s part. She’s been banned from the great outdoors, because I just can’t take the bloodshed anymore. At least, I can’t take the bloodshed in my sunroom or rotting under my actual BED, in which I SLEEP and gah, just thinking about it…excuse me while I boil my brain.
Where was I? Ah yes, the butt mats. I chalked them up to the fact that Claire was growing fatter and more sullen with each night without a dead little mousie. You know, internationally famous author Joshilyn Jackson’s cat has the same problem? It’s true. She gets too fat to groom herself and gets butt mats. The cat, not Joss. Good heavens.
But then, Friday night, Claire peed on the couch. Which was a new behavior, and not a welcome one. I may not know huge amounts about feline behavior, but I DO know that “inappropriate urination” can be a sign of illness.
So the next day I left the boys with a benevolant friend, and stuffed Claire and her mats into a cat-carrier. She hates that thing. She yowled as though there were vengeful mice with cat-prods locked up in there with her. I got alarmed looks in the parking lot; she was so loud and mournful.
I took her to the local “PetConglomeration”, where they sell food, supplies, grooming services, veterinary services, and provide disapproving looks free of charge. Claire and I were ushered right into an exam room, where we were given the opportunity to wait until the will to live had drained right out of us and lay on the floor in a heap with pounds of Claire’s hair. She was nervous and emitting yowls and hair at regular intervals. It was fun! My FAVORITE part was how there was nothing to read except “The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds.” Wheee! I read! I drank a Coke Zero with cat hair in it! This is how I spent my Saturday!
Anyhow, the vet DID finally come in and look at Claire. She peered in her ears, listened to her belly, and stuck a thermometer in an entirely inappropriate place. I (being premenstrual and covered in cat hair), stood there, with tears pricking my eyes, waiting to hear how short our time with our beloved cat would be.
“Well…I think Claire’s problem is that she’s fat,” announced the vet. I blinked.
“Um…we prefer ‘big boned’.”
“Right. But she IS fat, and that’s making it difficult for her to bend around and groom herself.”
“What about the peeing?”
“Being fat can cause bladder inflammation in cats.”
“So…you’re saying she’s fat?”
“What…do we do?”
It turns out that what we do for a fat cat is we buy her exorbitantly expensive food, and dole it out in tiny portions. The vet offered to groom her, to relieve her of her mats, but I allowed as how I could take care of that myself. I thanked her, paid the bill, and went out to find the right food, shampoo, and toys (exercise, doncha know). As I was looking at rows of catnip mice, a woman walked by. Claire yowled, and the woman peered in the cat carrier.
“Ohhh, she’s so BEAUTIFUL!”
“Yeah, but apparently she’s fat,” I sighed.
“Well…haven’t we all struggled with that?” She smiled at me.
“Maybe, but I always managed to groom my butt,” I muttered. She sort of stared, and backed away.
I took her home and shampooed her. Have you ever shampooed a cat? It would be funny if you didn’t have a heart. Poor thing. Eventually, when she’d fully dried out, and I could catch her again, I brushed her thoroughly. I removed at least another cat worth of hair from her.
Looking at the great wads of hair, I toyed with the idea of taking her in for another weighing. “She’s not fat,” I’d tell the vet, “she’s just big-haired!”
Nah, maybe not. But I’m totally using that defense at my next doctor’s appointment.