Remember how BB and I were going to take our newest cat, Vincent, to a highly-recommended cat groomer, to get rid of the mats that the vets didn't see fit to try to get rid of (because, as they said quite truthfully, "We're not actually groomers.")?
We did, on Saturday. I was full of hope. I was also filled with an inchoate, slight, but very unshakable, nervousness.
That's because when I made the appointment, and mentioned that "your group" had been recommended, she said, "Oh, there's no group. There's just me." That didn't jibe with what her website said; "we" was the operative term all over it, not "just me." I worried that "just me" might not be able to handle Vincent. Vincent spent much of his life being a tom and, despite his almost preternatural chill, he has an adult tom's build: bull neck, massive shoulders, and very large frame. He's also quietly stubborn; when he wants to climb into the refrigerator because It's Interesting, Damn It, it's all I can do to move him out of the way of the fridge door.
Would "just me" be able to hold him when it came to getting rid of mats? I warned her that he was big, very big, that he was strong, that he had extremely sensitive areas where the mats seemed to be right on his skin. She didn't seem fazed in the least.
She did give off weird-ass vibes over the phone. but I assured myself that I was just nervous. This woman had been recommended by people I trust. Plus Yelp gives her all kinds of kudos for being calm and patient with problem cats. And her website said specifically they (pardon me, "just me") care enough to be patient with problem cats.
So off we go on Saturday. We don't arrive until 9:15, because she warned me "I don't always get there at 9 a.m., you should come at 9:15."
She isn't there. We stand outside the shop, in the snow, an unhappy and undoubtedly chilly cat yowling softly in the carrier between us.
Just as I am about to tell Bob we are heading home, she arrives, and in we go.
The weird-ass vibes get stronger and stronger as she takes our carrier apart to get at Vincent, rather than simply opening the door - we watched in shock. Thank god I was able to put it back together in time for the return trip; it was obviously made to be taken apart, possibly for cleaning. but why the hell did she need to do that?
She announces to us that Vincent sure is fat (which may or may not be true; it's something BB believes, but I'm not sure), immediately slaps a cone of shame around his neck (which I can see, because that might protect her from teeth, but still, would have been nice for her to have warned us), and hauls him into the back. Bob and I sit down in the little front area. and look at each other, worried.
Still ... another man comes in with his cat. He asks us where we're from. Rogers Park, we say. He tells us he's from Lakeview, a Chicago neighborhood even farther from Cat Lady's studio than our neighborhood. This guy brings his cat all the way here ... that must speak highly of Cat Lady, right?
There commences, from the back:
"Come back here!"
"Come on - sit up!"
Lather, rinse repeat, I kid you not, even the crash.
Rather more quickly than "careful and patient" might suggest, but not soon enough for Vincent's two alarmed humans, Cat Lady comes out with him. He's pretty obviously in shock. He's been clipped where he needs to be clipped, around the back end; that's good. He seems smoother, and fluffier. OK, as far as that goes. She shows us the comb she uses; I make a note of it, but I admit that learning from her "I just yank at the mats and out they come, no use in trying to pussy-foot about it," (not sure about the pussy-foot comment, but it was something equally unnerving) does not make me any less eager to be away from her.
She wants to chat; we want to get our cat home - at least we want to get him away from her..
And we're off, the memory of Stop That *metallic crash* making us want to laugh a little and shriek a lot. Vincent does not say a thing on the 25 minute trip home. This, as many cat people can tell you, is not necessarily good.
Since that time, we've found mats that Highly Recommended Cat Lady missed. I have since gone out and gotten a comb somewhat like hers, which I hope I can operate without yanking at Vincent too much.
I have also sworn to Bob that we will find another groomer, one that has more than one person, one that includes people willing to actually be the kind and patient groomers that Cat Lady claimed and failed to be.
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