The Tortie & The Beauty Shop

BY PAUL SANDEL
Imagine Cattery

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Given that The Tortie has finally calmed down and decided I might be allowed to die by natural causes as opposed to death-by-tortie, it was time to address a problem that was way overdue.

As one might expect, after several months living behind a dresser, The Tortie was less than well-coifed. She wasn't dirty... no, for The Tortie tends to her daily hygiene, thank you very much. And The Tortie didn't smell bad - at least not that I could tell from a safe distance. I wasn't about to stick my nose too close. Otherwise, I might have ended up trying to read the Braille instructions on drive-through ATM machines. No, The Tortie's coat had simply molded itself into one giant mass.

Those of us who have Persians know how important daily combing is. Become distracted for a day or two and their coats quickly get matted. Well, The Tortie had not seen a comb in several months. It was if she was attacked by crazed, blue haired ladies wielding knitting needles who had crocheted her coat into a large oven mitt.

The Tortie needed grooming. Badly.

The Decision

Now I'm a mature and, at least I like to think, fairly strong-willed kind of guy. But the thought of tackling that coat made my bottom lip tremble. This was a job for a professional. Actually, two professionals - the vet with the sedative and the groomer with the sharp clippers. Appointments were made with both and I looked forward to a sleek, low-maintenance Tortie!

At The Vets

Grooming day arrived and The Tortie and I prepared for our adventure! She didn't mind going into the carrier at all. The only pause on our trip to the car was for her to mention to our dog, Billy Bob, that she would deal with him later (whatever that meant). We drove to the vet's office with me singing along to the radio and The Tortie keeping the beat with her tail. A good time was being had by all!

At the vet's office The Tortie grew more apprehensive. Perhaps she had lingering hostilities with some not so nice vet in the past. Perhaps it was the strange smells. Perhaps it was the outrageous prices on the Science Diet dry food. I don't know, but she was getting nervous fast and I feared a mental set-back.

Inside the exam room, I petted and reassured The Tortie as best I could. The vet assistant came in to administer the sedative that would ensure the groomer would not sue me. I expected some new and expensive miracle tranquilizer and was surprised to see she simply had a Valium tablet. In my experience, tablets must be given orally. Unless this lady had an ingenious plan, we were going to be here for a while.

I held The Tortie by the nape of the neck while the assistant stuck the Valium tablet in The Tortie's mouth and began to massage her throat. Satisfied with her efforts, the nice lady began to leave the room. I took this opportunity to point out that the Valium tablet was now attached to her cheek, just where The Tortie had aimed it when she shot it from her mouth. The nice lady went to get another tablet and we tried again, this time successfully.

At The Groomers

Off to the groomer's we go! The Tortie will soon succumb to the effects of the tranquilizer and all will be well. Oddly though, The Tortie seems to be energized by the Valium! She's pacing and talking and a bit wild-eyed.

At the groomer's, I warn them it has been only been a short time since the Valium was administered. They seem unconcerned and cart her off to the back. Pleased with their self-confidence and trusting in their experience, I return home with visions of carefree Torties dancing in my head.

Oh-Oh

When I arrive home I notice the answering machine is blinking. I press the button and hear "Hi, this is Lynn at the groomer's. (Insert smile). Your cat got loose and disappeared under the bathing tub. Could you come get her out?"

It is a thirty minute drive from my house to the groomer's. I made it in twenty.

It's all quite simple, the groomer explains. The Tortie simply jumped off the table and ran under the tub. Fine, I say, as I crawl under the tub to reclaim my wayward Tortie. The tub is elevated about two feet from the floor to keep the groomer's body from assuming an L-shape before she's forty. However, where the tub is mounted to the wall there is a six inch gap between tub and wall. This gap extends about ten feet to the ceiling. The Tortie is only about five feet from the ceiling.

Oh, oh.

I spend the next few hours laying on the floor under the tub. First I cooed to The Tortie, then I demanded The Tortie come to me, then I begged The Tortie to come to me. I offered ear scratches. I offered food. I offered my soul to the devil. The tortie simply climbed higher.

Finally, with my back aching, covered in the hair of 32 different breeds of dogs, I admit defeat. We will just have to try again later. The groomer suggests we wait until she gets hungry and then she'll come out.

Yeah, right. She didn't wait three months for this cat to come out from behind the dresser.

The Second Message

I return home dejected and beating myself for getting The Tortie and myself in this situation. The answering machine is blinking again.

"Hi, this is Lynn from the groomer's. (Insert smile). My friend stopped by and he's a plumber. He stuck his snake behind the wall to try to get your cat out. She shot out in a flash and ran right into her carrier. Want me to try to groom her now?"

This time I made the thirty minute trip in ten minutes.

All's Well That Ends...

Apparently, The Tortie does not want to repeat that adventure. Over the course of the next several days she slowly removed clumps of hair from her body and deposited them throughout the house. She even took care where to place them. Most often they were dropped where they would evoke the most reaction. Her personal favorite was the one on the bathroom floor at three A.M. I stumbled into the bathroom bleary eyed and spotted what appeared to be a rabid wombat. I ran back to bed
and just let my bladder complain until morning.

In the end, The Tortie managed to shave herself and enjoys our evening grooming sessions to stay mat free. I'm just glad not to have any more surprises waiting in the bathroom in the wee hours of the night.

More articles following the (mis) adventures of the author and his recalcitrant tortoiseshell Persian include:

About The Author:

Paul Sandel caught the cat show bug in 1973 at a young age. Shortly after that he saw a Black Smoke Persian at a show and was hooked. He states, "I was so excited when I finally purchased my first smoke, I felt the urge to lie back against the headboard and have a cigarette. Unfortunately, I was only 13."

Paul stayed with the fancy into adulthood, eventually becoming an ACFA judge. He was forced to retire from cats to care for his mother when she became ill with Alzheimer’s disease.

Late last year, Paul was able to return to the show hall and is currently working on rebuilding the Smoke Persian breeding program of Imagine cattery. He remains under 24 hour psychiatric monitoring.

Editor's Note: The Tortie Saga is a work in progress. It records Paul's experiences with a tortoiseshell Persian he purchased...

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