Compassionate Cat

How clipping her feline's nails initiated compassion from her older brother.


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Several weeks back I told you about how Mimi, my 5-year-old female tuxedo cat, dislikes being picked up. Well, there’s only one thing that she hates and despises more: having her nails clipped.

Last weekend, I noticed that her nails had gotten Howard Hughesian! One, in fact, looked like a fish hook it was so long and curved. Then and there, I resolved to cut all of her nails in one day to lessen her—and my—trauma.

I gathered up the clippers and sought my quarry. She was in my study, sitting on the guest bed. I hoisted her up on my lap and held her close. She hissed but not very convincingly. I gingerly reached for the clippers making sure she couldn’t evade my grasp.

As I began pressing on the paw joint to expose the nail, she let out the most plaintive cry—deeply mournful and heart-rending. I thought maybe her paw was sore but after close inspection, I was also pretty sure that was not the case. I managed to clip one nail when she started to squirm. I stopped and just held her. We both considered our next move. I pressed another joint and clipped the nail and she let out that cry again. She struggled against me for awhile and then calmed down. This little scene—clip, cry, squirm, hold, clip again— was repeated over and over again. 

When I was on her second paw, Lubya came into the room. He sat down directly in front of us, wide-eyed and with what I can only describe as concern on his face. 

Are you hurting her? he seemed to ask.

He didn’t move, he just watched. When I finished that paw, I released Mimi. With her powerful hind legs, she leaped off my lap and bounded to the top of a couple boxes stacked in the corner of the room. Lubya very slowly approached her and looked as if he was about to lick her, but she recoiled. He sat back down and continued to sit with her for quite some time.

That afternoon, I was in my living room when I noticed Mimi napping. When the cats are half asleep, it’s an extremely opportune time to clip their nails. They’re not quite aware of what’s happening. So grabbing the clippers, I ever so gently picked up Mimi and put her on my lap. I set to work on her back paws. I got two clipped when she woke up and started squirming—and we began a repeat of the morning’s drama. Lubya, who was a couple rooms away, came and sat in front of me again with that same look of concern on his face.

When I was done, I think both Mimi and I were relieved. I was also amazed at Lubya’s compassionate reaction. I mean, cats in general are known to be intuitive and caring. But Lubya is always the instigator in any fight between he and Mimi. He can be pushy, pugnacious and, frankly, a bit of bully sometimes. But clearly, he’s also got a soft spot for his little sister. 

As for me, I’ve got to admit: these two little creatures, who never cease to amaze and surprise me, have completely and utterly stolen my heart.

                                                                                           —Anne Simpkinson

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