Gruesome grooming facts

Loup-Garou is slowly discovering one of the major drawbacks of growing old for a kitty: he’s having more and more difficulty grooming himself. For a cat, this is disaster ! From his earliest days, when Momma Cat spent hours and hours grooming her tiny tykes to immaculate perfection whilst they were doing anything they could to become immaculate, then during his prime, when he would wash and scratch and shake himself into a masterpiece of feline sartorial splendour, he has now entered his waning years and finds himself stymied by his ageing bones and shrinking tendons. And so his once lustrous and glorious pelt has become more dishevelled by the day, losing the usual glimmer and costing him his glamour. With ugly tufts of hair sticking out at random and quickly threatening to felt up he’s not a happy kitty.

Enter The Brush.

Despite his initial misgivings, that this strange contraption wielded by The Mistress would actually harm his most prized looks, our black-and-slightly-white feline companion didn’t waste much time in starting to fall in love with The Brush. The first strokes were… well… tolerated. Then, sensuous pleasure jumped in.
You should understand that a cat is a most sensitive animal, with oodles and oodles of nerve-endings scattered generously all over his body. And likewise that the act of grooming which was first begun by his dam and spoke of comfort, warmth, a loving home, will during the rest of his life ever remain the most effective way of calming himself down and at the same time allowing him to just luxuriate in the sheer pleasure of rasping tongue over soon-to-be clean pelt.
The stiff hairs of The Brush have the same effect. Loup-Garou was initially intending to undulate his way around me for treats, as usual, but soon learned that just standing still would allow The Mistress to reach all of the difficult spots and relieve the pressures of all this down and hairs which had started to clot together.

When a cat can’t groom his pelt it becomes a serious problem. For one thing, the down under the upper layer of hair can entangle. Strands of hair that have for some reason become loose can add to these entanglements. As this process goes on in the end the poor animal is covered with ugly threads of matted fibres and this is called “felt”. There are some breeds of dogs where this is actually a desired feature as the matted fur is quite waterproof and insulating which for a working dog in some climates can be a great boon. There are even some simians who regard it as a certain statement in human grooming or even don this kind of fur-feature because of religious feelings. Go figure.
But for the average domesticated feline it’s plain bad for their health and for the feral feline even a death sentence.

Because the entanglements also contain hair that is still firmly stuck to the skin this can cause a constant tugging feeling which can be rather unpleasant. All kinds of parasites will find these matted regions nice and comfortable because the tongue and claws of the kitty can’t reach the deepest spots there. Likewise a seemingly innocuous irritation or scratch can cause infection. Add a generous sprinkling of dirt, moisture, all kinds of organic matter like twigs and decaying leaves, and couple this with the poor animal’s natural body heat and you have the prefect breeding ground for bacteria and parasites. In the end our poor feline friend may harbour all kinds of nasty health-threatening conditions under all that felted fur and succumb to the effects.

Luckily Loup-Garou has The Mistress and The Brush to help avoid this grisly fate. And now that he has grown to know and love The Brush grooming him has become a real pleasure indeed ! You can see the expression on his little furry face just starting at joy, going from sensuous pleasure to sheer bliss, and then soaring straight into all-out Nirvana. The unseemly tufts slowly disappear and once again his shiny pelt is a sight to behold and adore. There reclines a distinguished ageing gentleman, and don’t you know it !

Picture below:
Loup-Garou in Halloween mode. He just loves the attention…
You can clearly see the tufts on his hindquarters. He’s in need of The Brush again !!

Loup-Garou in Halloween mode, clearly he's enjoying the attention !!!

PS. We must however impart some very sad news… since the latest posting our gorgeous sweet little Gorgor has disappeared and never been seen again. As some other lovely cats have disappeared in the neighbourhood around the same period I fear he has been taken by strangers for some reason. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. We miss you, Gorgor !!

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#Wijvenweek 6 and 7: Multitasking Superbroad

Since it is Wijvenweek this week The Mistress will try to blog the entire week. Not with the goal of putting the simian Lady of the House in the spotlight, oh no, but the feline Lady of the House ! Because face it, although this week is for simian women our furry sisters need some attention too…

This day’s theme is: Multitasking Superbroad.

I didn’t post yesterday because we had a celebration going on, I -The Mistress- have finally managed to acquire an Infinite Term Contract as Associate Accounts Payable. After 10 years of illness, unemployment, contractor employment and limited employment I finally have the security of a more permanent employment (albeit part-time because of my still lingering illness). YAY ! Kibbles and Tuna Cocktails for all ! And fortunately the last day of Wijvenweek did allow for a kind of catch-up day on Sunday. Which is today. And it’s all about being the kind of Superwoman that everyone takes for granted and nobody ever recognizes… the Supberbroad.

Freya truly excels at multitasking. For one thing, a Queen must needs keep a wary and weary eye out for any possible attackers whilst nursing her young ones. Freya, though immensely enjoying the close contact with her offspring, never truly relaxed whenever Isegrim was nursing with her. Not even at then end when he had already grown bigger than herself. Ever vigilant, ever ready to explode into the kind of multi-limbed multi-clawed meat grinder that is the hallmark of Felis Cattus Queens when defending her kitten.

When Isegrim was finally completely on solids the next hard task fell to her of teaching him the fine art of stalking and pouncing, passing on her knowledge of hunting and scavenging. But even during those days, despite the numerous times her boisterous kitten would try to attract her attention, her eyes would still rove and wander, some part of her attention always set aside for the ambush, the sudden danger. We simians may have immortalized a Queens care for her kits in many sayings and expressions, all fade in the presence of the real thing. And even when teaching and simultaneously defending her son our Freya would also be on the constant look-out for food. Add to that the constant keeping up of a perfectly groomed appearance…

Now that Isegrim is more than weaned, and despite having her new charges Gorgor and Rikishi to care for, it is time for Freya to finally let her hair and guard down a bit and relax, you’d think. But oh no !  Even when soaking up the first Spring Sun rays which will provide her with much needed Vitamins-D afterwards our Feline Lady of the House cannot help but multi-task even here… sun-bathing, yes, but also an exercise in Yoga, and an exhibition of herself at her most lovely and cute.

Freya multitasking, Sunbathing, yoga AND exhibitionism ? Yep, multitasking !

Look how cute I am. How lovely. How… hungry… see the paw at the brow ? I’m fainting from starvation !
Uh… Freykins, that’s usually done with a front paw…
Front ? Schmont ! Feed me NOW.

#Wijvenweek 5: We are not amused

Since it is Wijvenweek this week The Mistress will try to blog the entire week. Not with the goal of putting the simian Lady of the House in the spotlight, oh no, but the feline Lady of the House ! Because face it, although this week is for simian women our furry sisters need some attention too…

This day’s theme is: Self Censure

Freya is usual very open about herself, coming up at you with a questioning chirrup whenever she wants something or simply butting her adorable little head against your legs in silent entreaty for a treat or just a cuddle. She will not hesitate to claim your lap and your attention. The keyboard in front of your computer is fair game really, when it comes to attention-grabbing.

Then there are her young ones. Freya has never been shy about nursing her son Isegrim, even when he had grown bigger than herself and positively loomed over her prone form with his muzzle snugly tucked against her lovely belly. Having been neutered in the meantime doesn’t keep her from mothering the two orange kittens ever since they came to live in the House of Chaos to within an inch of their tiny lives… and I really mean that because mothering also involves teaching the youngsters the fine art of battle and hunting which is not always done with gentleness and consideration for their feelings or their health.

Freya has a secret though. The one thing she really hates and would rather NOT have her sensitive paws in is… snow. But she won’t ever admit it openly. Because you never know with the kittens you’re doing such a terrific job raising… they might just find out your one little weakness and exploit it unmercifully. Like ambushing you with a wicked gleam in their eyes and the evil intention to push you into that cold wet white stuff !

Freya in the snow

Yuck. Cold. Wet. Can I go now ?

#Wijvenweek 4: Dreaming Diva

Since it is Wijvenweek this week The Mistress willl try to blog the entire week. Not with the goal of putting the simian Lady of the House in the spotlight, oh no, but the feline Lady of the House ! Because face it, although this week is for simian women our furry sisters need some attention too…

This day’s theme is: Dreamday

Scientists often scold us for our habit to anthropomorphise our furred friends: we are wont to ascribe to them the same feelings and emotions that we possess ourselves, and the scientists feel that animals don’t have these. Anyone who ever caught a dog red-pawed with his nose in the cookie-jar or who came home to a shredded settee and the very innocent-looking feline sitting next to it pointedly ignoring said settee would certainly disagree. As would anyone who has ever scolded a canine friend or cried hot tears in the vicinity of a cat. I can assure you that our feline friend Zorro mourned the passing of woofie Critter for 6 months. Nothing else could explain his sudden sad demeanour, his sudden lack of appetite, the hair loss (tummy and buttocks almost completely bald in the middle of winter !) and the uncharacteristic displays of affection towards his simian housemates. Animals do have feelings.

Another bone of contention with the scientists is whether animals could dream, or have an idea of what is awaiting them in the future. Do our 4-pawed companions dream ? I’m not talking about the kind of dream one experiences when in deep slumber, but about expectations, hopes, ambition perhaps…

Was Freya simply following her instincts when she reared her offspring Isegrim ? Is she doing this again now that she has 2 feisty kittens to take care of ? Or does she have the ambition to turn them into expert hunters – like she has done with Isegrim, the only fat yet successful hunter I know ? Is she anticipating no further than the next occasion for food ? Or is she actively planning to ambush Loup-Garou the next time I pour him his special food, or planning an attack on Gorgor the next time he receives his extra food of cooked carrots and chicken livers ? Does she expect to have a quality moment with me tonight after dinner ? I’m not sure.

I am sure however that whenever she is lying in the health-giving rays of the Spring sun in the Garden of Chaos she is closing her eyes not just in boundless bliss, but may even be dreaming some wacky grandiose dream in which she -of course, that goes without saying- plays the lead role…

Imagine…

Freya going back to her first home, ambushing the feckless creature who had so cruelly banished her from this home and towards the horrible fate of starvation. Attacking this person with grim ferocity. Punishing the doer for the cruel deed. Leaving a shivering bleeding wreck behind as she returns in triumph to the House of Chaos, with just the one or two artfully left specks of tell-tale blood on her immaculately groomed pelt…

Freya sitting in the Kitchen of Chaos, ogling the enormous slab of Côte-à-l’Os (T-bone beefsteak) and suddenly snatching it from under the Mistress’ flashing kitchen knife, then dashing off with her prize to that spot under the antique cupboard where The Mistress can’t reach her.

Freya taking a much needed sun-bath and her simians coming out towards her august prone form bearing trays of yummy tidbits and tasty morsels, offering her bit after bit of gastronomical delight, whilst the other feline members of the tribe of the House of Chaos drag their freshly caught preys over to her so she can have a bite were she feeling peckish.

Freya sitting in the middle of the road, the cars stopping with their drivers getting out and continuing to stare at her with hapless admiration and abject veneration. Heh, Bean-Sidhe tried that and he got hit by that white car didn’t he ?

I could go on and on trying to imagine my female feline friend’s dreams and ambitions, but I can be fairly sure of one thing…She’s the Number 1 Queen at the House of Chaos because there is none other !

Freya op de freesmachine

Ehrm… no… I don’t think she dreams of becoming a metalworker like Grumpy Man but she sure loves the swarf coming from the machines !

#Wijvenweek 2: guilty pleasures

Since it is Wijvenweek this week The Mistress willl try to blog the entire week. Not with the goal of putting the simian Lady of the House in the spotlight, oh no, but the feline Lady of the House ! Because face it, although this week is for simian women our furry sisters need some attention too…

This day’s theme is: Guilty Pleasures

It’s really difficult to be a cat. The simians you live with have so many and dumb expectations of you, it’s become a day’s work to try and live up to them… really really difficult !

Freya knows this well. From the earliest stirrings of her simian caretakers in the morning to late in the evening when the last of them finally succumbs to the beckoning arms of Morpheus she has to make sure that we never, ever, look strangely at her because she’s doing something unexpected and weird. She is well aware that we expect her to groom herself to pristine feline perfection, to lounge about lazily yet regally in a random ray of sunlight, to playfully yet elegantly chase after the hapless mouse that has somehow escaped Isegrim or any other of the House of Chaos’ regular hunters, to sit at the empty food bowls and meow imploringly to us…

But now and then she surprises us with her wacky little guilty pleasure and leaves us wondering what had happened to Her Impeccably-Mannered Ladyness…

She is the Typing Machine-Cardboard Muncher.

Freya chomp

Nomnomnomnom *TCHING* Nomnomnomnom *TCHING*

#Wijvenweek 1: the Lady of the Feline Tribe ruffled

Since it is Wijvenweek this week The Mistress willl try to blog the entire week. Not with the goal of putting the simian Lady of the House in the spotlight, oh no, but the feline Lady of the House ! Because face it, although this week is for simian women our furry sisters need some attention too…

This day’s theme is …“Beauty queen in the deepest of my thoughts” !

Freya is always spotless. Always at her best. No matter how hard it rains outside, or how terrible the little ones have been romping about with her, she always has her lovely pelt firmly in order, every hair in place. Her pelt is always pristine and groomed to perfection. She is truly beautiful and knows it.

Cats are very fastidious animals. They have a nifty little tool to help them with the daily task of grooming their luscious pelts: the tongue. It’s covered with little stubs that work like barbs. When they are licking themselves they are actually going over everything with a tiny flexible rasp. All kinds of impurities and dirt are removed, as well as loose hairs, and in the meantime the body itself is given a wholesome massage. Moreover, when the feline furr-ball is lying in the sun, the pelt somehow creates vitamin D and this is licked up later by the grooming kitty. So there you have it: comb, washing cloth, vitamin pill – all in one !

Their extreme agility allows them to reach nearly every possible spot on their bodies. Yet the spots that they can’t reach by twisting themselves into purring pretzels must be dealt with by using a tool… the paw. It is moistened and then brushed over the neck, head and ears. Not as thorough as the tongue perhaps, but certainly a useful substitute. And the best substitute of all is of course another kitty’s tongue. If your kitty were to accept another one that close to her august being that is. Which Freya does. She is not adverse to asking either Hrimnir or the kittens for a little extra attention, but the product of her loins Isegrim is no longer welcome. He has become so big that his own mommy is now afraid of him.

When there are simians about in the House of Chaos it’s not unusual for our 7 feline friends to vie for these simians’ attention. Freya is a past mistress of the artful begging and will contort her lovely shape into something akin to a starving wreck whenever there’s the possibility of food to be had. An immaculately groomed starving wreck of course ! One should never lower one’s standards you know !

Except when the first Spring Sun is discovered and she couldn’t wait to dash out into the garden to be the first to sample it…

Freya

*GASP* Le horror ! Ruffled pelt !

Affected affections ?

A recent study has found that cats don’t only like us for the food and shelter we give them, but that they actually appreciate us for the company we provide as well. Contrary to what many thought so far, but in line with what every cat-lover already knows with solid certainty, is that a feline companion doesn’t stay with you because you give her the right brand of kibbles and that the occasional dead mouse she proudly presents to you does not solely mean that she sees you as the main food provider and tries to do her part as member of the household. She actually does like you for the snuggles.

Cats are not truly solitary creatures. They can perfectly live on their own, but do need the occasional social contact with either neighbours belonging to their own species, or anything else they can meet and greet without a automatic fight being involved. The challenge of finding out who is friend and who is foe keeps them on their toes, of course, but it is also the friendship and companionship that counts. Basically, a cat is happy with a buddy now and then.

As any farmer, or other caretaker of larger feline populations, can tell you they form perfectly good little societies of their own. They quickly sort out who is boss, who is under-boss, and who is under everyone else. The hierarchy may change at the weirdest moments and with the strangest results for the most ridiculous-seeming reasons, but you can be certain that a modus vivendi is always in place or will be soon and that the feline members of the community will usually get along fine give or take the occasional hissing fit. Until milking time. Then it’s a scramble-for-all with the nastiest coming out on top.

Kittens are wont to huddle together for warmth and safety. Full-grown queens may huddle together for warmth, safety and companionship, not to mention to literally share the burden of having litters. Toms usually don’t form part of this picture, but you bet they too may have a buddy somewhere they can spend the occasional and short entente with. Neutered toms are a bit more laid-back and enjoy the occasional close encounter – or rather: lie-in. All cats are capable of forming lasting friendships and do feel a need for physical contact. And they have an extensive range of signs and postures with which to show this appreciation of each other.

Cat-caretakers may or may not stumble across the endearing scene of two or more of their feline overlords snoozing together in a complicated puzzle of limbs, whiskers and tails. And one does have the chance to observe from time to time how two cats will just sit together, maybe even with tails draped over the other’s back. When a kitty is comfortable with another kitty there is much touching about.

So it shouldn’t surprise you -really- that cats can form meaningful bonds with humans or other animals. Anyone who has ever been greeted in the morning by a sweet and happy chirrup from a furry friend knows all too well that the chirrup is a greeting and not a demand for food. The imperious “MEOW” that comes after the chirrup is a demand for food. But the chirrup is to let you know that hey! the kitty is happy to see you, recognizes you, and sends you friendly greetings with the happy expectation that more fun things will follow – like food. More often than not the chirrup is followed up with a head-butt, maybe even a body-rub, but you’ve really hit the jackpot with a tail-by. The tail says it all really: if it gently strokes over any part of your body (usually the ones in reach) it’s a sure and certain sign that you are his beloved friend and companion.

Yet the feline bodylanguage is not limited to the tail-by alone. Just sit somewhere and read something (a newspaper, a book, a computer…) and not before too long you will feel an entreating paw softly tapping your knee. A purr may ensue, emitted with hopeful anticipation. And when you relent with a sigh you suddenly feel 3 kilos of solid affection entering your personal space, occupying your lap, and grabbing all of your attention. Forget what you were just reading. Quality time is in order ! Of course, after the necessary ministrations you may resume whatever activity you were engrossed in. Just take care not to disturb the by now napping kitty… or to continue with the scritchings of the not-napping kitty !

And when night falls and you retire tiredly towards your bed, you may feel the sudden thump! that heralds the imminent arrival of someone hoping to get cuddles. They just love it when you allow them a little space to snuggle up in, close to you, close to your hands with those marvellous appendages which can scritch and scratch all over and take your feline buddy straight up towards Nirwana. Because for the cat cuddling is utter and total bliss. The one moment in the day when she absolutely forgets all instinctive self-preservation, when caution flies out of the window, and when a little furry body is given over completely to unlimited levels of sensuous togetherness with a far far larger one.

If that ain’t love, I don’t know what else is.
It sure implies complete and utter trust.

Picture below: the feline denizens of the House of Chaos rarely snuggle together, but these two (Hrimnir and Isegrim) are the only ones more or less comfortable in each other’s close proximity. When one of the simian denizens (or both) are in the Nest, it’s more a matter of careful distribution of kitties and then the snoring starts.

Hrimnir en Isegrim gezellig in bed

(bad quality of piccie due to low lighting and the use of a mobile phone camera)
Weekend is approaching fast and that means we can start partying again with all of our buddies over at the Friday Ark, the Carnival of the Cats and Weekend Cat Blogging. Please visit them and join the fun !