I looked at the rulers of the universe and the rulers of the universe looked back at me, with disgust and contempt in their eyes.
Ive made arrangements for you to go to the vet next week, I said.
Harpo the Cat, co-ruler of the universe along with his adopted sister Bess, said Whats the point of that? We dont need no stinking vet!
Its time for your annual warrant of fitness checkup, I said. And you Harpo need to have your dags removed.
Oh, no! said Harpo. He sounded quite horrified. Not my dags! I spent all winter cultivating those. Theyre the best ones Ive ever had.
Over the long winter months Harpos long black fur had become extraordinarily shaggy, to the extent that it almost dragged along the ground. The fur had matted together into hard, compact lumps that felt quite horrid on the rare occasions that he allowed us close enough to stroke him. There were also many distinctly unsavoury dags clustered thickly around his bottom, to such an extent that we had grown quite used to determining which room he was sleeping in by the intensity of the stench that greeted our nostrils when we walked into it.
Its your own fault, I pointed out. Robins tried to attack some of the worse ones with a pair of scissors, but you simply wont let her at them. Shes got horrible scars all down her arms where youve used your claws and teeth to stop her from de-dagging you.
She shouldnt have the temerity to do that, said Harpo, grumpily. I am the ruler of the universe after all. She should have more respect.
But you are getting quite smelly, I pointed out. If your majesty forbids us from attending to your dags, well just have to get someone else to do it.
Humph, Harpo humphed. And we left it at that for a week.
When the day of the vet appointment dawned, we quickly bundled Bess into her travelling cage. She glared laser beams of hate at us, but we are immune to such things we laugh at third degree burns from the eyes of felines. Ha, ha! However a crisis threatened when we discovered that Harpo the Cat Who Isnt Afraid Of Anything Except The Things That Hes Afraid Of Like Vets was nowhere to be found.
No problem, said Robin. Ill just have a sniff around. He must be in the house somewhere because we locked the cat flap yesterday, so he cant have run away. You go and get the Harpo gloves while I investigate.
The Harpo gloves are steel reinforced, leather lined welding gloves that stretch from my hands to my elbows. I use them to protect myself from the deadly weapons that Harpo launches from his fingertips when I try and make him do something he doesnt want to do. I learned my lesson the hard way. I used to be polydactyl, but Harpo soon cured me of that.
Ive found him, called Robin. I followed the sound of her voice into the room where we keep the deepest and darkest cupboard in the whole world. It is impossible to hide when you have dags a distinctive aroma was swirling around the cupboard. You could almost see it as well as smell it, and when we looked more closely, there was Harpo scrunched up in the corner with his eyes closed. I manoeuvered him out with my Harpo gloves, plonked him in the travelling cage, and off we went to the vet. Both cats howled miserably all the way.
Bess went first. The vet poked, prodded and weighed her.
"Bess is looking really good," said the vet. "She's pretty much the ideal weight for her size. She's lost a bit of weight since last year."
"That's because we feed her fish," said Robin. "She doesn't approve of fish, so she punishes us by not eating it. Sometimes she doesn't eat for days on end until Harpo has finished all the fish and it's time to eat chicken.
"That would explain it," said the vet. "I suggest you keep feeding her food that she doesn't like. That way she's likely to live at her ideal weight for years!" He gave Bess a clean bill of health and put her back in her cage ready to go home.
Then it was Harpos turn. We decanted him onto the examination table and the vet approached him cautiously.
Go away, said Harpo. Gerroff!
Nice dags, said the vet, wrinkling his nose as the full funky Harpo aroma slithered up his nostrils. Why dont you brush him more often? Youre supposed to brush long haired cats, you know.
Robin pulled up her sleeves, exposing a criss-crossing network of scar tissue running up and down both arms. Im running out of flesh to sacrifice, she said. Harpo doesnt like being brushed.
Ah, said the vet, looks like a general anaesthetic will be required.
Bugger off, said Harpo.
You can pick him up tomorrow, said the vet.
The next day, a distinctly subdued and much sweeter smelling Harpo gazed at us from the depths of his cage.
The dags were the daggiest Ive ever seen, said the vet. Ive brushed out as much as I could, and Ive cut off the ones that resisted the brush. Ive also shaved all around his bottom, so you might find him a little less fragrant from now on.
We took Harpo home and let him out of the cage. The fur on his right side was very thin, and pale expanses of skin could be seen between the thin strands of black hair. He was piebald, verging on bald.
You look like a football player with a comb-over, I told him. Dont go out in the wind!
I fart in your general direction, said Harpo in his best Monty Python voice. The house filled with familiar smells again. Everything was back to normal.