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Pedicure for pet also is cure for furniture
VITAL TRIFLE, BY LAURI GROSS
Pedicure for pet also is cure for furniture
One of our cats, the fat white one, is extremely docile. He will sit and purr no matter what. You can move him, pick him up, put him down, reposition him or carry him any way you like. He just keeps purring.
He's named Chamois ("Shammy"), like the soft car-polishing cloth, because his white fur is highlighted with chamois-colored splotches.
It is because of Chamois' easygoing personality that I agreed to my husband, Brent's, idea of gluing tiny, soft rubber tips on each of his nails. Who would attempt such a thing on a feisty cat? Indeed, why would anyone attempt such a thing at all?
For the full story, we must go back to the first time we laid eyes on Chamois. It was the year 2000. Our kids, Katie and Noah, were toddlers. Our neighbor's cat had kittens, and the one they called Chamois hung around our house more than the others. He pranced in the falling leaves and was only too happy to have my kid lug him around. He purred no matter what. Of Chamois, the neighbors said, "You want him? Take him."
So, one day when little Noah let Chamois into our house, we convinced Brent that Chamois would be a lovely addition the family. And he was.
So what if he occasionally sharpened his claws on the furniture? As time went on, however, Chamois really began to make the backs of our chairs and couches look ragged.
We got scratching posts to give Chamois something constructive to shred. When he scratched furniture, we diverted him to his approved scratching posts. Chamois spent a lot of time in the basement, and the couches down there became totally shredded. These were our old basement playroom couches, so we didn't mind. The chairs upstairs in the family room were starting to fray too, but we tried not to notice.
Around this time, we acquired a new kitten we named Patchy. Chamois and Patchy were best buddies right from the start. We were in pet harmony. Only the furniture could have foretold the future. Well, the furniture and the walls.
We had replaced the shredded basement couches with two futons. This way, the cats couldn't shred the wood frames, and we gained two additional guest beds. Then we started to notice flakes of drywall on the floor near the futons.
The cats loved to sit in the basement window wells, but, as they were typical, ceiling-high basement windows, Patchy and Chamois had to devise a way up there. They perched on the wooden arms of the futon frames, which were positioned underneath the windows. Then they launched themselves onto the wall in a mad, flailing scurry and climbed frantically into the deep window well, where they would sit and enjoy the view. To dismount, they'd lower themselves a bit, digging once again into the drywall, and then fling themselves through the air onto the futon mattress below.
Again, we shrugged it off. "It's only the basement walls. Who sees it anyway?" But the piles of drywall dust accumulated in the carpet, and the drywall began to resemble the deep ridges of ancient tree bark.
Meanwhile, we stitched up the backs of the upstairs chairs to conceal the damage the cats had done there. Patchy contributed to the destruction of the basement walls, but Chamois was still the king of furniture destruction.
Then we redecorated the basement, repairing and painting the drywall. Also, we converted one of the tiny high windows into a large egress window, the ledge of which was at seat height. We figured the cats would just sit in the new large window well, rather than continue climbing into the high windows. No such luck. The cats still preferred to climb the walls.
Determined not to let them ruin our newly smooth walls, we invented a solution. Now, carpeted wood planks stand at each window, fastened flat against the wall leading from the floor to each well. The cats happily climb those into the windows, and the walls stay unscathed.
Then we did something really dumb. We replaced the furniture upstairs. So when Chamois began to destroy it, I entertained the idea of having him declawed. Brent stood firmly against the idea. For a few more years, this went on. We tried various methods of trying to train Chamois what to scratch and what not to scratch. He remained the sweetest cat ever, but our furniture was getting worse.
Then, when I was really lobbying hard for Brent to let me have Chamois declawed, Brent discovered a product called "soft paws." These are tiny rubbery tips you glue onto your cat's nails, so they can't damage furniture, but they still get some clawing satisfaction. I thought, "Preposterous. Ridiculous. Stupidest thing I ever heard of." I said, "OK, I'll try them." I knew, if there was actually a cat anywhere who would sit still while someone glued rubber tips on his claws, it would be Chamois. But I did not for one minute believe that these things would stay in place or work as advertised.
Katie helped me glue them on. Chamois didn't mind. A few fell off initially, and Chamois chewed off a few at first, as the product instructions warned. We glued them back on. Chamois didn't mind. It's been about a month, and these things actually seem to be working. We have to glue a few soft paws on every so often as Chamois' nails grow, but, basically, it actually works.
Chamois looks like he is fresh from the kitty mani-pedi salon with his bright blue nails and his white paws. Brent is happy. I am happy. And the furniture is happy.
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