Essentially, grooming habits are divided between cats. While it would be unfair to call either cat ‘reprehensibly filthy’, they both have certain problem areas that need some work. Coleman has a problem area at one end, while Ble has it at another, much less fortunate, opposite end.

Initially, I felt somewhat blessed with Coleman, in regards to personal hygiene issues. She cleans herself with an almost stomach-turning vigor, and with great regularity. And clipping her nails is frustrating but forgivably so. Since Coleman only makes noise when she is hungry, she won’t intimidate by howling, growling, or hissing while you go at her nails. However, she squirms with such puzzling unpredictability that the operation of clipping her nails is often broken into phases. Trying to groom all four paws could cost an afternoon, so I take one at a time, once again relying on the tiny size of her brain to help her quickly forget the trauma so that I may confidently approach her again after short breaks. Getting the nails clipped requires complex submission strategies. The measures I employ fall just short of a cat-sized version of one of those Hannibal Lechter restraining suits. I tackle, I wrap, I soothe, I offer Pounce treats, I empathize, I beg forgiveness, and I wear falconry gloves. And together, we get through it. Sometimes, after a full day of nail clipping, Coleman and I curl up with matching herbal teas, mine in a Cathy comic strip mug (the mug features a strip in which Cathy is having not a little difficulty finding a flattering bathing suit. so true!) and hers in a small ceramic saucer.

But nails are not the source of Coleman’s grooming problems