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New look for old pet brings smiles

Catherine Minolli image
by Catherine Minolli

Once a year I get a new cat.

Well, not a brand new cat, but a cat that looks and feels new. Seems new, too.

How's that? Well, it's because every spring I take him to Kelly's Pet Grooming to get shaved.

Yes. Shaved. Like a dog...except he's a cat.

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I learn about this phenomenon from my friend Lois—animal lover, avowed cat lady (who takes the term as a compliment) and retired Seven Ponds Nature Center naturalist.

A couple of summers ago Lois was at the homestead, petting Tino the Great (also known as ToTo as in Dorothy's familiar in the Wizard of Oz). Lois feels the mats that are getting out of control on Tino's broad back near his hind quarters. A Maine Coon-type cat, Tino has three layers of fur. When he starts to shed in the spring, the inner layer starts to mat up as it releases.

"You can get him shaved, you know," Lois says. "You can get a 'lion cut.'"

Really? A 'lion cut?' I love the sounds of it but I have never, ever heard of anyone ever, ever getting their cat shaved.

"I bet they'd do it at Kelly's," Lois says. "You should find out. It's so much better for the cat!"

The next day at work I google 'cats with lion cut' and am blown away by what I find. The photos are amazing and hilarious. Some of the cats really do look like lions...others look like...well...shaved cats who know they've been shaved. They have a certain bored-but-annoyed look in their eyes, unmistakable for anyone who's ever had a cat for a pet.

I decide to go for it and I call Kelly's and make an appointment. I'm nervous dropping off the 18-pounder at the groomers for the first time, but when it's time to pick him up, I'm thrilled.

He looks so cute. So different. And quite hilarious, too. I get a huge kick out of it.

When I pet him, what's left of his fur feels like suede. Truly. Velvety and smooth.

Losing all the thick fur (the vet tells me his likely weighs at least a pound) makes Tino very happy too. He becomes kitten-like as he races down the hallway when I throw his toys, or leaps into the air when I tease him with a brightly colored ribbon.

This is how I get a "new cat" every year. In more ways than one.

It takes about three months for the fur to grow back in, and this year I may get him shaved twice before winter hits.

A cat who spent the first three years of his life at Paradise Animal Rescue, Tino, now 8, is mild and mellow, and because he never learned any differently at Paradise, trusts human beings and doesn't put up much of a fight about anything. He even lets me put him in a harness with a lead to take him outside.

So maybe it's right that he gets shaved at a dog groomer's place, considering he's a lot like a dog. Except he's a cat. Which makes me one very lucky human.

Official cat lady here. And I, too, take that as a compliment.