Being retired means I get to spend a lot more time with our delightful dog, Zoey who I dearly love and, unfortunately, our cranky cat, Bandit who I can barely tolerate. 

Allow me to explain.

Among the many qualities I dislike about cats, in general, is the fact that they don’t have normal illnesses like other animals. Every time our cat has come down with some kind of disgusting ailment, her symptoms have been accompanied by soul-crushing drama.

Personally, I think the wide assortment of afflictions endured by the common house cat partially stem from the repulsive, stench riddled food they eat. Fish bait looks more appetizing than what my wife feeds the cat.

With that in mind, please consider the following story. 

Early one afternoon, my wife decided, out of the blue, that the cat seemed “moody and lethargic”. Since that was the cat’s normal state of being, I did not understand how she could possibly make that determination, but, despite my skepticism, she decided that a trip to the vet was in order.

The usual fun of trying to get the spitting screeching cat into the pet carrier commenced and soon they were off. Meanwhile, me and our little terrier, Zoey, having the house to ourselves, decided to take a well-deserved nap. We were awakened an hour later by the return of my wife and the still hysterical cat.

With her voice choked in sadness, my spouse announced, “I knew the poor kitty was sick.”

Struggling to show even the slightest amount of interest, I asked, “What’s wrong with her this time?”

My wife’s face clouded with heart-wrenching emotion, and then in a shaking voice, she delivered a diagnosis so shocking that I could scarcely believe I heard her say it. “Our poor baby has an acute infection in one of her anal glands!”

 “Say what?”

“You heard me! The cat has a nasty infection in the anal gland on the left side.”

“Left side of what?” I dared to ask.

“What do you think, Einstein?!”

“Oh, that……Well, I can see how that could make you moody.”

“This is serious, and I don’t want to hear any of your sophomoric jokes!”

That was unfortunate because that was the only kind of jokes I had.

Convinced that she had put me in my place, my wife plunged ahead. “The vet gave me some medicine to give to the kitty twice a day. Morning and evening.”

“Okay. So, give her a pill.”

“It’s not a pill. The vet gave me an antibiotic that has to be applied to the infected area.”

“You’re kidding?!” In my mind I was thinking, there are not enough rubber gloves in the world……

Searching for the words to continue a conversation I never thought I would have, I made a halfhearted effort to understand what the treatment procedure was while trying to avoid a lot of complicated medical jargon. “So, you just smear a glob on there?”

I watched as my wife’s shoulders slumped, and then I made things worse by helpfully pointing out the obvious. “The cat is not going to like that.”

My wife shook her head at me. “Are you through?”

Actually, I was just getting warmed up, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. So, I respectfully responded, “That’s all for now. But don’t worry, I’ll have more later.”

I watched in silence (I’m not a complete fool) as my wife carefully opened a bag, reached in and produced an apparatus that, I swear, resembled nasal spray.

Now completely bewildered, I asked, “What on earth is that?”

“The applicator.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, those two words sound like the title of a cool action film about a high paid mafia hitman. Imagine a booming male voice exclaiming, “Don’t you dare miss the return of THE APPLICATOR!! Coming soon to a theater near you!

As always, my wife read my mind, something she is adept at doing after forty-five years of marriage. “There is nothing funny about this!”

“Wanna bet?”

My spouse took a moment to gather her strength in an admirable effort to refrain from verbally lashing out and instead, softly said, “It is going to take both of us to give her the medicine.”

Suddenly, my blood ran cold as I realized our funny little conversation was taking an ominous turn.

Then very calmly, my wife said, “We have to infuse the antibiotic into the infected gland.”

This was sounding worse by the second, but it was the word infuse that really caught my attention.

“Don’t worry.” My wife said reassuringly. “Giving her the medicine will not be an issue. The real problem is what we have to do first.”

I admit I was desperately curious about the horrible fate that awaited my mortal enemy, but I was also afraid to ask. What in the world could be worse than infusing medicine into an animal’s anal gland?

My wife promptly provided the answer. “The first thing we have to do is shave the kitty’s hairy tiny hiney.”

Now let’s pause for a second…… Have you ever experienced one of those moments when you were in a delicate situation where the worst possible thing you could do is laugh? You know, like at a wedding or a funeral. (Basically, anytime you’re in a church.) And you know you shouldn’t do it, and you try not to do it. I mean with all the strength you can humanly muster; you try not to do it– but you can’t resist, right?

My unfortunate reaction happened in the blink of an eye, leaving me with no chance to stop myself. It was the moment when I did the unthinkable. The inexcusable. The unforgiveable. I laughed out loud.

I just couldn’t help it. The cat is so chubby that there is nothing remotely tiny about her “hiney”, and when I pictured in my mind just exactly what a grisly sight the cat’s shaved butt was going to be, I completely lost it. Within thirty seconds, I was gasping for air, and big salty tears began to stream down my face as I continued to be convulsed in a raucous rib rattling fit of laughter.

But, after so many decades of wedded bliss, my lovely bride instinctively knows how to make me hit the brakes when I’ve lost all control. In this case, she simply said, “We’re going to need to use your electric razor.”

In an instant, my exuberant laughter came to a skidding halt.

The grim reality of what I was facing slowly began to sink in, and suddenly I realized just how the applicator was to be used. The very thought of it made me shiver.

In the essence of time, I’ll spare you the brutal details of the conversation that followed – but in the end, (no pun intended – but you knew that was coming sooner or later) I was able to cleverly employ a powerful one, two combination of pleading and whining, that wore my wife down until she finally relented and agreed that for the shaving procedure, I would be the one to immobilize the cat. I was to hold the beast perfectly still while my wife gently defiled my razor forever.  

I was good with that.

All things considered, I was more than willing to deal with the end that bites rather than the end that…… well, I don’t need to explain that to you.

My wife disappeared down the hallway and soon returned with my beloved electric razor and a pillowcase. The razor had been a lovely Father’s Day gift, two years earlier, but now, sadly, it was to become an instrument of humiliation.

Innocently I asked, “What’s the pillowcase for?” 

My wife looked at me incredulously, not understanding why I was incapable of grasping such a simple concept.

With what little patience she had left, she explained, “We’re going to put the kitty into the pillowcase head first and leave her backside sticking out so I can shave it. I think not being able to see and having you hold her will keep her calm.”

I began to chew on my lip in a painful effort to keep from snorting derisively in the face of the one I love. To say that I had grave doubts about this plan was the grossest form of understatement.

I did not see how shoving a cat headfirst into a pillowcase while the other end was attacked by a noisy vibrating machine yanking and pulling ultra-sensitive hair from an area where no man had gone before, was going to be calming.

Of course, before we could give the cat a trim, we had to catch her. However, because she was still stressed out from all the poking, prodding, and probing she had endured at the vet, she was in no mood to be caught.

My wife called out in a deceptively upbeat perky voice, “Here kitty, kitty. Come here kitty, kitty.”

The cat was having none of it. She stuck her head around the corner, eyed us for a moment and then took off. The chase was on.

For the next few minutes, my wife and I futilely pursued the cat throughout the house until the flummoxed feline finally dove under the couch. Actually, because of her enormous girth, it was mostly a lot of wiggling and writhing that got her under there – but she made it.

Safely ensconced in her hiding place, she began to wail in the delightful manner that only a cat is capable of as she expressed her profound displeasure with the current circumstances of her life.

“Now what do we do?” I asked cluelessly.

My wife did not think such a witless question deserved a verbal response. She ignored me, left the room and headed for the kitchen. A minute later she reappeared with an open can of hideous cat food, the smell of which made me wish I had not been cursed with such a big nose.

Of course, my wife’s brilliant idea worked. (However, I wondered if she’s so smart why didn’t she didn’t do that to start with so we could’ve avoided the track meet in the house – but I digress.)

Even in the cat’s depressed state, she could not resist the nauseating aroma that was filling our living room. Before long, her plaintiff wails ceased and a few moments later, grunting and struggling, she managed to extricate herself from under the couch.

My wife and I watched in silence as the enormous cat devoured the putrid food, blissfully unaware of her impending fate. As she was nearing the last bite, my wife whispered, “Get ready.”

I carefully shifted my feet so I would be in position to make the lunge on my wife’s signal. You could feel the tension in the air, as our senses were heightened in preparation for the big moment.

Finally, as the last morsel was being consumed, my wife yelled, “Grab her!!”

Like a coiled tiger who had been waiting to pounce, I made my move. With stunning agility, I sprang at the feline who was caught completely off guard by the cunning trap my spouse had set. The cat resisted with all her might, not to mention her teeth and claws, however, I was finally able to wrestle her into submission. But, unfortunately, I received several nasty scratches which prompted me to unleash an explosion of bad language that I’m not particularly proud of.

Once I had the beast under control, my bride opened up the pillowcase, and I dropped the cat in headfirst. My wife deftly grabbed the back legs that were protruding out and instructed me to hold the kitty perfectly still.

Apparently, the cat had been traumatized enough for one day because she just didn’t have much fight left in her. It didn’t take long until we had her in the proper position for her haircut.

My wife, who is all business when it comes to this kind of thing, lifted the cat’s tail and did a quick inspection of the troubled area so she knew exactly what she was up against. At this point, I’m ashamed to admit, I took the coward’s way out and averted my eyes. Whatever was about to transpire, I didn’t want to see it.

A second later I heard the electric razor come alive and then the authoritative voice of my wife said, “Get a good grip and hang on. I’m going in!!”

As the blades struck the first tufts of feline fur, the hypnotic hum of the razor immediately changed into a horrifying mulching sound resembling a lawnmower hitting a large clump of soggy grass after a heavy rain. However, that disturbing noise was quickly drowned out by the piercing shrieks of a gigantic cat being violated from behind by an invader she could neither see nor comprehend.

Although I tried to resist, I knew (with any luck at all) this opportunity was unlikely to ever present itself again, so against my better judgment, I gave in to the overpowering temptation to sneak a quick peek, and believe me, it was not a pretty sight. You’ve no doubt heard the quaint expression, when the fur flies……Trust me, it was flying – in every direction.

Meanwhile, my wife remained stoic as she methodically went about her business with grim determination. Only me and the cat seemed to be suffering.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably no more than ninety seconds, the deed was done.

My wife switched off the razor and sternly said, “Don’t let her go.” I watched with genuine admiration as she picked up the applicator and effortlessly positioned it in the appropriate spot and infused the gland on the first try. It was a thing of beauty to behold. Sort of.

“Okay, let the poor baby go.” On her command, I released the pillowcase and in a heartbeat the cat vanished.

I looked at my spouse and smiled warmly. “Wow! You did a great job!”

She nodded. “Well, thankfully, we will only have to put the kitty in the pillowcase and infuse her twice a day for TWO WEEKS.”

Her words hit me like a Mack truck. I really didn’t think anything could me feel worse……and then I looked down at my still smoldering razor.

That was the moment I made the decision to grow a beard – and I haven’t shaved since.

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