Story: The Top Cat, For Sure

It happens all the time, I often think back to the cats I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years throughout my life.  It’s always completely random.  I’ll be working on a project, doing chores, grocery shopping or whatever.  Then all of a sudden I’ll have a memory of a certain cat and I will recall the moments our paths crossed.  Sometimes the memory will be from a brief encounter, other times from our lives being intertwined in some way over time.  Sometimes it will be a memory from a few years or decades past or even from my childhood.  In this case, my memory was from a decade past.   “TC”, was definitely the Top Cat.  He knew it and he made sure everyone else knew it.  He came to us as a boarding guest and the most dramatic one, at that.  It’s extremely rare for a cat to carry on with an academy award winning performance in the manner that “TC” did.  In fact, “TC” was the only cat who ever acted this way in our care.  Everything was overdramatized.    Getting out of his carrier was a big deal.  Cleaning his litter box was a big deal.  Even giving him treats was a big deal that ended up with him hissing, growling and lunging towards us as if he wanted to rip our eyes out.
I first met “TC” and his human companion, Linda, around the same time as I earned my master cat groomer certification.  “TC” was dirty, greasy and slightly matted.  Linda dropped him off one day for boarding and jokingly asked if I would give him a bath to help solve the dilemma of his grooming needs.  I laughed.  She laughed.  Then we both looked at “TC”, still in his carrier.  He’s the only one who didn’t think it was funny.
“TC” was only with us for a few days on that visit.  I would walk by him constantly, telling him that I was going to give him a bath.  He wasn’t amused.  I was hesitant and even forewarned Linda that he would probably look the same when she returned.  While I had a wealth of experience handling aggressive cats during years of cat rescue work, this was different.  I was newly certified as a Feline Master Groomer, after all, and “TC” was the type of cat that made even the best cat handling veterinarians cringe when he arrived for checkups.  
I tested the water.  Warmed up to just the right temperature that cats like during baths.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to trim his nails right away but that it would be okay.  Moving quickly before he even knew it, “TC” was on my hip with one hand on his neck and the other hand under his body with my fingers around his arm, his neck too thick for any sort of scruffing.  This is my usual stance for carrying any cat in the safest manner possible.   I walked with purpose to the grooming room.  Visions of shredded limbs going through my head.  Through his head, too, I’m sure.  Straight in the tub he went.  Water bubbling off his back and down his sides, he sat there.  We looked into each others eyes and at that moment, we each learned something that day.  One lather of degreaser and rinse, then over again.  A lather of hypo shampoo, then rinse again.  You never would have imagined he was the same cat from moments ago.  Out of the tub and onto a towel he went.  Wrapped up and patted down, then wrapped in another dry towel. The whole time never breaking contact from my hands on his body.  While I remained cautious, never once did I feel he wanted to bite me. After the blow dry, then for the nail trim.  Deshed treatment and comb out, who ever would have thought.  Looking back, one of my favorite moments with “TC” was after the groom, when I would clean his cheeks and whiskers with a cotton ball as a reward for his good behavior.  He loved those moments, too.  
The dreaded walk back to “TC’s” sleeping quarters was likened to being a pirate walking the plank with a musket ball tied to my foot.  Like the pirate, we both knew the outcome but doing so was a must.  No sooner than “TC’s” paws landed in his cabin, he would flip around and lunge towards me, with only the door between us now to keep my skin from being shredded.  Now and then someone will ask me where I got trained to groom cats.  The truth is, it was “TC” who really trained me, and all of the other aggressive cats who came after him.  It was “TC” who taught me to go out on a limb, so to speak.  To take risks and to try something even if you think you might fail.  
Many groomings with “TC” would follow and a few years flew by.  Each grooming was just like Ground Hog’s Day, just a replay of the first time he was ever groomed.  The last time I saw “TC”, there was something different about him.  I just couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was just a feeling that something was off.  When Linda returned to pick him up, I told her that something was different and since he was due for a vet check, it might be worth looking in to.  A few weeks later Linda called to tell me “TC” had crossed The Rainbow Bridge.  I was heartbroken, as I loved the special bond I had with “TC”, even if it was just for a short time while I was grooming him.  Not long after “TC’s” passing, Linda adopted another cat, “TC2” was her name.  Wouldn’t you know it, she was just like “TC” before her.  A feisty little pistol that I grew to love.  A couple of years ago I had another moment of thinking about “TC” and wondered how Linda was doing.  She was battling cancer and I knew that chemo treatments were difficult for her.  I looked her up and found her obituary, she died just a few weeks prior.  I’m sure “TC” was there to greet her at The Rainbow Bridge.  “TC’s” memory will always be with me and I often wonder what became of “TC2”.  Hopefully she’s living with a relative or someone who loves her. 
Thanks, “TC”, for teaching me a valuable lesson……a life without risk is a life without reward.

PHOTO: “TC” enjoying the day on his patio at home.

6 thoughts on “Story: The Top Cat, For Sure”

  1. I love this story. TC sounds like he was an awesome guy in his own way. I look forward to reading more kitty stories on your blog, Susan.

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