He seemed entirely unperturbed that where once he’d had a L’Oreal glow, now he resembled Swampy. There was no other solution: we booked an appointment with the vet.
Our cat has a relationship with the vet that resembles the state of affairs between most ex-husbands and ex-wives. Nah. Scratch that. It’s worse. As he enters his cat box, a feeling of dread weighs heavily on his 6kg cat shoulders. He crouches down. He knows what’s coming. That’s what happens when you’re an omniscient feline.
She Who Must Be Obeyed drives him and he starts to hiss. When the welcoming doors to the vet’s swing open, he goes into full-on cat mania. How dare we take him to a place worse than hell? How dare the vet try to assist his recover from whatever malady he may have? He didn’t ask for this and he won’t stand for it. Hiss. Hiss. Hiss. And Scowl.
This time, they tried to remedy the rasta cat look. A short trim here. A swift clip there.
The cat wasn’t having it. He protested sufficiently for them to give up.
They sent him – and She Who Must Be Obeyed – back home. Come again another time, they said, and then they’d get serious. The only way to solve it was general anaesthetic
In truth, I’ve always thought a general anaesthetic was the nuclear option when it came to a haircut. I thought back to the barber’s I’ve loved and loathed. Even a trainee at Sale, near Manchester, who went at me like a decorator with a paint scraper wasn’t so bad that I needed to go under.
Although, on that occasion, I complained, politely, that his use of the clippers was causing considerable discomfort.
His boss looked at me and told me if I didn’t like it I could get out of the chair and leave the barber’s with a half-cut. Thanks, chief. I won’t be back.
The cat, poor thing, was experiencing something similar. It had a few putative dreadlocks beneath its arm pits – do cats have arm pits? – while others had been cut off. He looked straggly, though his priority seemed to be the avoidance of the vet.
He was blissfully unaware of the impending anaesthetic – a course of action that we’d always imagined was reserved for those having heart transplants, or reparative surgery rather than a cut and blow. But what do we know? We’re creatives who think a hard day’s work is gazing at a thesaurus, rather than attending to an unhappy cat who doesn’t want to go to the vet’s.
The day arrived. The cat box was summoned. The hiss, hiss, hiss routine began and our cat was taken to the place that he calls hell.
He was extracted from the box and within minutes was fast asleep. His unexpected acquiescence meant the vet could get on with the job of extracting the remaining dreads, though the vet decided to go further, and shave him all over – just leaving hair on his head, neck, tail and legs. When he returned home, he had morphed into puss in boots – quite literally. There were fluffy tufts all the way to his knees, a fantastic cape of fur, a tail that would dazzle a mink and then… an oasis, where hair used to be.
The dreads had gone, and so had his fur.
He walked around, dazed like a drunk. And so we bought him a cat pullover, fitting him into it like some prep school first-dayer.
He hissed, taking himself off to remove it dexterously.
We put it back on. He took it back off. We put it back on. He took it back off. We gave up. And he smiled, I think, having scored a victory against knitwear.
It’ll be a while before his fur is restored. Though he appears to be enjoying his new look. Two weeks ago, he was a cat rasta. Now, he’s a cat skinhead. Life is weird.