I do so love to watch cats grooming themselves. I find it hypnotic and soothing – the smooth play of muscles as they twist and stretch, the sensual splayed toes, the darting little pink tongue, the occasional glimpse of the cat’s nethers.
My husband does not find it nearly so soothing. That’s because Dushenka takes a pause from grooming herself, she starts grooming him. This could keep her busy all day, since he has a lot to groom.
She usually starts with a brief lick to the nose, which I assume is to let him know what’s coming. Then she starts in on his beard. When she’s had her fill of that, she moves on to his eyebrows, though she occasionally misses and grooms his forehead.
Whenever Dan’s shirtless, which is usual in summer and not unknown even in winter, she goes for his prodigious chest hair. I have never seen her miss and accidentally lick his nipple, though I’m pretty sure if she did, he wouldn’t tell me. And I won’t even speculate about her grooming his nethers. They may engage in these pursuits when I’m not around, for which I’m mostly thankful, but about which I’m perversely curious.
I remember a Robin Williams routine in which he said, “If you think cats are so clean, you go eat a can of tuna fish and lick yourself all over.” By that theory, my husband is coated with a thin layer of Super Supper and cat spit, which I must block from my mind when I hug him.
Dushenka occasionally gives my nose a lick, but that’s as far as she goes. Cats in general find no pleasure in grooming me, although I once had a cat, Julia, who was irresistibly drawn to roll on my head whenever I had my hair done at a salon. I think she was enamored of the coconut-scented mousse my stylist used, though I know of no of no other cat attracted to coconut.
I also once knew a cat who, when I was sitting on a sofa, was drawn to my curly-permed ponytail. But she did not slurp. She pounced, apparently believing that my ‘do was some sort of rodent or other cat toy.
The only time I experienced a lengthy cat-grooming attempt was when Dan rubbed catnip on my leg. (Thankfully, I was wearing jeans.) Lick, lick, slurp, slurp ensued, until I had a round, damp spot on my thigh.
But ultimately, this post is not about cat spit, or tongue-prints, or even pants-licking. The take-away from this is: Cats groom their kittens. My husband’s mother, therefore, is the cat Dushenka, and he is her child. Please don’t tell the woman who birthed and raised him. Her claim has been challenged. And we all know what happens when you engage in a war of wills with a cat.
The cat wins.