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Letting our hair down

February 2, 2012

Toward the end of last year, I noticed a small bald spot roughly the diameter of a quarter on Teva’s rear left leg. As time went on, it continued to grow, to the point that it stretched from her knee to her thigh. If I had to put a price on its final size, I’d say $3 in assorted coins. Not the Sacagawea kind. No one likes those.

The swath snaked up her leg in the shape of a tongue, and it became apparent that she was licking away the hair from her haunches. One thing’s for certain: I’m confident Teva didn’t learn this behavior from me. I haven’t shaved my legs since going in for an annual pap smear two months ago.

While I was struggling to come to terms with living with a cat who is bald by choice, the vet seemed confounded, but not concerned. His advice ranged from doing nothing — the ol’ don’t-pull-your-hair-out-over-your-cat-pulling-her-hair-out approach — to an Elizabethan collar to Prozac. I always just sort of assumed that among my cats and me, the one most likely to need anti-depressants was … not my cats.

I pondered what depression- or anxiety-inducing problems Teva, the happiest creature I’ve ever encountered, might have that would drive her to self-inflicted baldness: being loved too much, having too many toys to choose from, being raised by a single parent. Or maybe she was just picking up on and acting out my own malaise. I wish I could claim my lack of blogging of late was a silent protest of anti-piracy legislation, but only recently did I learn that PIPA isn’t Kate Middleton‘s sister. The real reason is because sometimes life blows. Weathering a perfect storm of first-world white girl problems, I’ve spent the past few months hibernating and hating people. Admittedly, it’s hard to discern my funks from my happy times.

Teva has a new box to play with — I would kill for a new box to play with — and yet still she yearns for more.

Friday is sometimes my only night off work, and I’ve settled in to an comfortable but probably unhealthy routine. Because I’ve been rather unpleasant to be around, I sequester myself and dedicate the evening to grocery shopping instead of socializing. There’s an unspoken understanding among shoppers. We can’t judge each other for grocery shopping on date night because we’re all grocery shopping on date night. I’m not sure whether people still call it “date night.” Maybe this is why I never have dates.

There’s a cute cashier who closes on the weekends, and I always seek out her line. She’s 40-ish, glasses, shoulder-length salt-and-pepper hair. Probably too old for me. Definitely too chipper and well-adjusted to be gay. Bubbly yet soft-spoken and seemingly concerned only with whether I found everything I was shopping for, she makes sure to ask whether I want my soap wrapped separately (no), milk in a bag (no) or rubber bands on the blackberries (no — Teva eats them. The rubber bands, not the blackberries. That would make sense.). It’s as if she were Teva, because I seem to only ever tell her “no.” I don’t know what her name is, but she looks like a Becky. Not a Rebecca or a Becca or, god forbid, Becki. Becky. Last Friday at the intersection of the chocolate nook and olive bar, Becky and I did a No-You-Go Dance — the sort where both people move to the right, then left, then right again all the while saying, “No, you go.” She was off the clock early. I wondered why. In her absence, another cashier rang up my purchase. He put rubber bands on my berries. Asshole.

My television — my trusty Friday night companion — broke at the height of Teva’s alopecia and my melancholy, making matters bleaker for at least one of us. I pulled forward a bookshelf to check the plugs, and the cats went berserk upon being reunited with all their lost toys and pilfered tampons. Teva led the charge, liberating the applicators and multicolor mice. For days while their treasures were no longer hidden, I’d wake to find a mouse dropped on top of me and come home to discover little tokens of their affection on my pillows. My misfortune had become their bliss.

*This* is why I have cats. They offer a direly needed everyday dose of levity. Also, they are the only beings that don’t love me and then leave me. Because they’re trapped in my house. And they’re the only ones who let me hold them on a regular basis. Although a few days ago Isabel pulled a muscle in her chest, and now she whimpers every time I lift her. It’s been especially hard on her. And by her I mean “my self-esteem.” And Teva and Isabel sit on me and purr a lot when I’m sad. I recently read that cats purr at a frequency known to foster healing. Cats make you feel better. Fact. Although it’s possible their purrs might only promote self-healing, in which case, our pain just makes them stronger. Still cool.

After witnessing Teva’s elation over my busted TV, I decided pills weren’t the right tack to take with her. Instead, I turned a blind eye to her hairless limb and let her overzealous grooming run its course. Like her mom, she eventually lost interest in epilation, and now there’s fuzz where there once was none.

Doing nothing can be the best medicine. At least that’s what I tell myself on date night.

P.S. To resolve the immaculate-conception cliffhanger from my last post, I’m not carrying the Second Coming of Christ after all. It’s just as I thought — only women can come twice.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2012 5:21 AM

    So, this Becky, is she on our team? Have you carried out the obligatory lesbo checks? I bet she stalked you out in order to perform the “no, you go” dance – it’s all part of the flirting ritual, I’m sure.

    As for poor Teva, maybe she really has been soaking up your emotions like a sponge. My cat does it for sure. If I’m feeling a little anxious, she immediately picks up on it and starts behaving really strangely. Someone recently told me that my cat and I are like two peas in a pod. Which is worrying, as I recently wrote a blog post proclaiming that my cat is a sociopath.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear Teva is feeling better, as are you.

  2. February 2, 2012 5:51 AM

    Cats are better than any doctor or shrink. That is a fact. They can cure all or at least make you laugh at all and feel better… which is the same thing as a cure… really.

  3. February 2, 2012 7:59 AM

    January is notoriously pissy. Cold and dark. i have to force myself out sometimes just to get air and light and exercise.

    Teva may be onto something. i hate shaving my legs and need to learn yoga. Maybe if i constant lick them… hmmm…

  4. February 2, 2012 8:12 AM

    Groceries shopping on date night isn’t so bad…at least you leave the house for a while.
    I know life can really suck sometimes but hold your chin up and trust happy days are still to come.

    I know what you mean. Cat’s can really heal and make your life better. My cat follows me around and sleeps on my arm pit every time I’m sad.

    Big hug!

  5. CatBat permalink
    February 2, 2012 8:16 AM

    My old cat had the fur-licking problem. I asked various vets about it… prozac was never mentioned. She also had some little acne-like bumps on her chin. One of the vets solved it with some kind of steroid, but then I discovered that feeding her a little bit of moist food (in her case, ocean whitefish) worked just as well. The fur grew back.

    Cats rule! Give them both some extra hugs from me hehehe.

  6. February 2, 2012 9:07 AM

    I’m glad Teva decided to let her hair grow back.

    You’re right about cats making you feel better. Despite Esme’s attacks when I do morning yoga, she becomes cuddley cat when I need it.

    Your PS is awesome!

  7. February 2, 2012 10:04 AM

    Now I want a cat. And I want to give that cat a box.

    (p.s. this is the funniest thing I’ve read in forever.)

  8. February 2, 2012 10:50 AM

    i think we have identified the crux of the problem here: “Definitely too chipper and well-adjusted to be gay.” *guffaw*

  9. February 2, 2012 11:28 AM

    Perhaps Teva’s mutant power is that she spontaneously produces calcium thioglycolate in her saliva? You could open a cat-themed beauty salon!

  10. February 2, 2012 12:26 PM

    I’ll be honest; to find out that you find my name attractive is quite flattering.

  11. February 2, 2012 1:08 PM

    Hey, my cat did that, too! They gave me kitty-valium to calm her down, and she FREAKED. OUT. It had kind of the opposite effect, and she climbed the curtains, scratched the walls, and hid under the bed and yowled for an hour.

    Actually, she DID stop doing it after that. Maybe it did work.

  12. February 2, 2012 4:01 PM

    You slay me. Every. single. time.

    I love your genius.

    PS Sorry you didn’t immaculately conceive. That would have been amazing off-Broadway.

  13. February 2, 2012 4:41 PM

    I really wish I could supply you with a new box ;-)

  14. February 3, 2012 10:02 AM

    40ish is so not too old for you!

    Teva looks like the wisest kitty in the whole wide world in her little box.

  15. Jessica permalink
    February 3, 2012 11:53 AM

    Girl all I can say is A Perfect Storm of First World White Girl Problems needs to be the name of your debut CD, where you rap and meow like a cat.

    Public access crushes are bizarre…they provide the sensation of human contact without the all the mess and misunderstanding.

    I think a cute girl flirted with you up there in the comments, her user name includes the number 87 which by my dropout math means she’s 25. 25 goes into 30 much easier than 30 goes into fortysomething. Ya dig what I’m sayin?

    Wanna come to Florida? I’ll take you to the gayest place on earth besides Disneyworld (you’re on you with that).

    • February 3, 2012 7:38 PM

      I dig. She may or may not have flirted, but she lives in Missouri. I don’t date outside my time zone. Anymore.

  16. February 3, 2012 12:35 PM

    Purr therapy works. Mmmhmm, it is so.

  17. February 3, 2012 11:14 PM

    Aw poor Teva! I think she just needs to focus on something to distract her from making herself bald. My suggestion? Sit down and watch United States of Tara with her. Charlie and I marathoned the whole season and he didn’t dry nurse me once! Must thank Diablo Cody.

  18. February 3, 2012 11:47 PM

    My cat had the same problem, his depression exacerbated when he had to wear one of those giant cones around his neck, resulting in his friends calling him names like “Catellite Dish”.

    Felines can be cruel.

    Of course her name is Becky. This goes without saying.

  19. redg_rl permalink
    February 4, 2012 9:52 AM

    Hooray for new musings.. & new fuzz!
    You are not the only kitty-lovin’ Friday
    eve grocery shopper either. In the mean-
    time, we should go check out an extra-
    ordinarily dark film for distraction & the
    sake of art. They pair well with other
    dark things like winter, the b.s. that is
    dating, etc. Saba & I eagerly await more
    clever & amusing words to come.

  20. February 6, 2012 7:10 AM

    I’m with Jessica on the debut CD. I’d buy it. Then play it endlessly, drinking lite-white (girl) wine. Yup.

    In other news, this made me LOL. Thank you.

  21. February 6, 2012 7:59 PM

    My dog (which now lives with just my parents, so is she still my dog even? Sad) has this can’t-stop-licking-my-paw problem. It comes and goes, but sometimes it’s been terrible.

    We decided she’s just neurotic. Maybe she needs a box to play with.

  22. February 7, 2012 8:28 PM

    what a post. on so many levels. you are brilliant. just brilliant!

    i hope you’re feeling better. have you tried purring?

  23. February 13, 2012 9:30 AM

    Been missin’ you, sugar! And don’t worry about the licking thing — I used to have a golden retriever who did the same thing and apparently she would just get distracted and forget she was licking and… keep on licking. She was pretty, not brainy! I’m figuring in Teva’s case, she starts licking, then gets distracted by very deep thoughts.

  24. February 13, 2012 7:38 PM

    hahahahaha, that last sentence was PERFECT!

    and hey – i LOVE me some dollar coins! they jingle. i like jingly stuff. plus i forget i have them, and then i find them, and i’m like “hey! ten bucks, woo!”

  25. February 18, 2012 12:08 PM

    At least you still go out on a Friday night. I no longer leave the house. And I don’t have cats.

    I think you should woo Becky – just don’t ask me how. I’m not very good at flirting/social interaction.

  26. February 19, 2012 9:47 AM

    Damn, I miss reading blog posts. I still make time for yours… even if I don’t get to it until weeks after it was posted… sorry :o(

    All females have little nervous habits! Teva’s fur licking must just be like someone else’s nail biting or hair pulling or, I don’t know, mindless scratching while concentrating. I don’t have any nervous habits, but, you know, other people do. People who are imperfect. Which would not be me. *scratches*

    Hope your days get better soon.

    • February 19, 2012 9:50 AM

      Argh. I hate how my smiley just got mauled. It’s supposed to be a frowny face with a nose, damnit! Also I hate how I’ve started using smileys as punctuation. I’m supposed to be a grown up. Damnit.

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