Harpo the cat came for a cuddle. He went straight to Robin because he hates me. I'm no good at cuddling. All I'm good for is putting food into bowls. Apparently I do that quite well. He comes back for more food almost every day, when there's a 'q' in the month. But right now he wanted a cuddle. He climbed up onto Robin's chest, thrust his head into her armpit, inhaled deeply and began to purr with pleasure. Robin scratched his head, checking out the scabs from his latest fight. They seemed to be healing well. She ran her hands all over his long black fur and he wriggled with ecstasy.
"Gosh," said Robin. "His fur is really thick and matted in places. It's just a solid lump. He's never going to be able to untangle it himself. I think we ought to cut it off for him."
"He's not going to like that," I said. "Remember, he's got lots of pointy bits and he knows how to use them."
"We'll put clothes pegs on his neck," said Robin. "He's a wonderful clothes peg cat."
The theory goes that since mother cats carry their kittens around by the scruff of the neck, pressure on the scruff will make the cat go all limp and pliant so that mum can take care of it. Clothes pegs on the neck apparently feel just like mum, and many cats will let you do almost anything to them as long as the pegs are in place. Others, of course, will just try to rip your arm off and hit you with the soggy end if you put pegs on them. We've been very lucky with Harpo he's the best clothes peg cat that's ever owned us.
I went to get the pegs, Robin went to get the scissors. I held the end that bites while Robin snipped at the matted fur on the other end. Despite the pegs, Harpo wriggled and cried. He obviously didn't like what we were doing at all.
"I think it's hurting him," said Robin. "I think there's more than just matted fur here. There might be a wound underneath it."
Harpo shrieked with sudden anger and tried to bite me. The pegs simply weren't working.
"I think we'd better go to the emergency vet."
The emergency vet picked up an electric trimmer and buzzed it over Harpo's matted fur. It came off in great heavy black lumps. Harpo protested loudly but it did him no good. The vet continued to trim the fur. Then he gave his official diagnosis.
"Daggy bum," he said.
"Is that all?" asked Robin. "No wound or anything?"
"Just a daggy bum," said the vet.
"So why did he complain so much when we were cutting it?" I asked.
"Because he's a cat," said the vet. "Probably he was just telling you to stop messing with his bottom. I can't say I blame him. I'd tell you to stop messing with my bottom if you did it to me."
He shaved off some more fur and peered closely in order to confirm his diagnosis.
"Yes," he said. "That's all it is."
He turned to his computer and typed "daggy bum". The computer didn't seem to mind.
"Now comes the bad news," said the vet, smiling sweetly. "The diagnosis and treatment comes to $88."
"Shit and corruption," hissed Harpo. "Just wait till I get you home!"