Razor Burned

One of my cats, Big Jim, is having issues.

Ten years ago, I got my first apartment, which I was sharing with Mr. Furious. Mr. Furious did not want a cat, but I did. The law was laid down: I could not get a cat unless I named it Pussy Po-Po. I admit, it was a pretty stiff requirement. I didn’t particularly want a cat named Pussy Po-Po.

One weekend while visiting my parents, I went down to the local animal shelter. There was a huge cage full of kittens right inside the front door, one more adorable than the next. One was all white except for a black tail. One was all black except for a little white moustache. Fourteen of them—thirteen of which mewed and pawed out through the bars of the cage for my attention, purring and doing their best to look cute. The other one, ugly as sin, all ears and completely pathetic, sat in the food dish, looking miserable. “I’ll take him,” I said. The animal shelter volunteer looked at me like I was nuts. “The one in the food dish?” I nodded. “Yep.” She gave me a look that tells me they probably still tell the tale of the girl who adopted the antisocial food dish cat a decade later. My rationale was that all the others were so cute, they’d be adopted in no time. But who would take the ugly little sod who made no attempt at affection? He was definitely the one.

I took him to the vet for his first check-up and was asked to give his name. “Jimmy Pussy Po-Po,” I wrote on the form. Surely, a middle name had to count. Mr. Furious kindly let it slide.

Within two years, Jim had been diagnosed with epilepsy. He twitches. Not a lot; never has he had a full-blown seizure, but he occasionally has twitchy spells. A good belly-rubbing seems to relax them.

Then, two years ago, Jim was diagnosed with diabetes. We have to shoot him up twice a day with 2 ccs of insulin, such a little amount that the tiny jar lasts forever, but I show up fairly regularly at the local drugstore asking for needles, feeling guilty at their suspicious looks and wanting to declare, “If I were a heroin addict, I wouldn’t have such a fat ass!” The needles have calloused his scruff, so we need to use a new one every time.

So Jim, while only 10, is prematurely aging a bit, and he now suffers from a touch of arthritis. It makes it difficult for him to clean himself properly, and being part Maine Coon, he has a thick, oily coat, prone to matting. Recently, he’s developed mats so severe, I can’t get them out with a brush. I tried scissors, but he didn’t really like that, and so I tried Mr. Shakes’ electric razor. Jim, ever the sport, who takes his shots twice a day without a complaint, has done okay with the razor. In two sessions, I’ve managed to rid him of approximately three tons of hair.

The past couple days, I’ve noticed he’s been more mobile again. He’s put up with so much, and he hates all the fuss, but he always seems a bit grateful, too. When we’re done with a shaving session, I take him to the bathroom and fill his personal mug with fresh tap water, and we hang out for a bit—this ugly little kitten, who has grown into quite the handsome and wonderful beast, and I.

He currently has what can only be described as a mohawk. Straight down the middle of his back is a thick shock of black hair, and on either side, from his tail to his shoulder, baldness. I’ve taken to calling him Mr. T, and I pity the fool who dares to tell him he’s anything but gorgeous.

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