Last week, we had our first few days of record heat. Traditionally, I’ve kicked off the unofficial beginning of summer with the shaving of the Sasquatch.
Sasquatch is my massive 9 year old Maine Coon cat. In addition to lots of fur, he’s also carrying some extra weight, so the heat makes him pretty miserable. He always feels better after he gets shaved and he doesn’t care if others think he looks silly. A few years back I found this very unpretentious grooming salon that would groom cats. Previously, I had taken him to a fancier salon, but I could tell they were more interested in their show dog clientele than my big kitty. Anyway, I was happy with the results of his grooming at the less fancy place, and the groomer/owner really seemed to like “the big Squatch”. When I called to book his annual appointment she would always say “Ohhh. I remember the big Squatch!” Yes, he is indeed memorable. Thirty pounds and 24 toes of Maine Coon usually makes an impression.
Last year around this time, I dropped him off in the morning and the owner/groomer greeted him with her usual enthusiasm. “Oh, look at the big Squatch! He’s such a sweet boy!” After we pried Sasquatch off of me (he gets transported using a harness and leash since he’s too big for my kitty carrier), I left him in their capable and loving hands.
When I returned around closing time, they were only just finishing up his bath and hadn’t even shaved him yet. So, the owner/groomer let me back into the grooming area to help hold and comfort him while he got shaved. She was able to get it done pretty quickly because he was being very cooperative. He really is such a sweet dispositioned boy. After she had finished with him, she wanted to carry him out to the car herself – I guess she just wanted that one last hit of the big Squatch. “Uh, OK” I said even though she had already started walking out of the shop with him. Big mistake.
It’s one thing to have 90 lb, 5’0″ woman handle your very strong 30 lb cat when the cat is behind closed doors. It’s quite another to take him outside and walk him towards the one thing he hates worse than water – the car. So, he freaked out. And while she struggled admirably, he escaped her arms and started running around the parking lot in a panic. We blocked him against going towards the street and got him cornered. The groomer/owner seemed to be dead set on being the one to capture him, because, no doubt, she felt responsible. Even though I asked her to let me handle this, she lunged for Sasquatch, and again, he freaked and dashed. Now I’m yelling at her to leave him alone and let me handle this, but she had lost her ability to understand or speak English and starts yelling back at me in Chinese. Her assistant, a large African-American fellow, hearing the brou-ha-ha comes out of the shop and gets into the act.
Again, we get Sasquatch cornered, this time behind a planter in front of a grocery store. And again, I’m yelling at them to let me try to calm him down and for them to cover the escape routes. Nope. The assistant goes after Sasquatch and grabs his tail. Next thing we know, Sasquatch turned around and latched his very large jaws in the assistant’s thigh. The groomer/owner then grabs Sasquatch tail, so now you have 30 lbs of shaved Maine Coon suspended by tail and teeth. The assistant is now screaming at a pitch I didn’t think possible for a man his size, the groomer/owner is shouting something in Chinese, and me, the fat white broad, I’m yelling at all of them to “STOP GRABBING MY GODDAMN CAT’S FUCKING TAIL!” In all this mayhem, I look up and see a family come out of the grocery store, and then with a look of abject fear, the father quickly leads his brood back into the store and they watch the drama unfold from behind the automatic doors.
Sasquatch once again makes a break for it and this time he heads for the back of the grocery store. As he is being chased by a bleeding African-American man, a foul-mouthed, pissed off fat white chick and a tiny Chinese woman, as you can imagine, we make quite an impression. A local redneck (and yes, there are rednecks in the Bay Area, and El Sobrante is a hotbed for them) asks the assistant what is going on. “There’s a cat on the loose.” To which the redneck drawled with a laugh,” you want me to go get my gun?” I turned around and screamed with all my might “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE, ASSHOLE”, which probably wasn’t the best idea to yell at someone with ready access to firearms.
Sasquatch had taken refuge under a car. I take a deep breath, try to compose myself and nicely ask everyone to step back so I can please try and calm my cat down. Too late. The owner/groomer is reaching under the car and grabs -what else? – his tail. The assistant, noticing his torn pants and bleeding leg, got fed up and went back to man the shop. Since the owner/groomer seemed to have a good grip on him, and Squatch looked like he wasn’t going anywhere, I decided to get my car and pull it right next to the car he was under, so that one of his escape routes would be straight into my car. When I got back with the car, the owner/groomer had trapped Sasquatch under one of those plastic milk crates you find behind grocery stores. I moved my car right next to his make-shift cage, she lifted it and he jumped right into my car.
The aftermath: Sasquatch stayed under the bed for several hours after we got home, but eventually he forgave me. I discovered that at some point in all the melee I had also been bitten pretty badly, but fortunately it never got infected. The next day I went back to the salon to pay them for the grooming and to check in on the assistant. There didn’t appear to be any bad feelings, nor were the assistant’s bites infected. But, as I left there wasn’t the usual, cheerful “bye bye! See you next year!”
I got the hint. Anyone know a good groomer in the East Bay who does cats?