I couldn’t ignore it any longer, I really couldn’t. For almost the whole week since I returned from Florida, I managed, somehow, to pretend it wasn’t there — or wasn’t as bad as it actually was. I scooted around it, focused my eyes on anything but the couch and kept the lights low. But then the sun came out and I was faced with The Truth: my apartment had turned into one big, enormous hair ball. Every surface — the floor, the couch, the rugs, the tables, the lamps even the bloody TV — seemed to be etched in a layer of white clinging Cat Hair. How could they possibly have more hair on their bodies? Why aren’t they bald? I couldn’t walk through the apartment without stirring up a tumbleweed of the stuff. To add to the mess, and to show his displeasure that I left them for a whole eight days, Nick decided this was a good time to exercise his manly powers and attack his sister on a daily, or was it hourly, basis leaving big clumps of her back hair strewn amidst the other piles of the stuff. It was everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.
It doesn’t help matters that I have a chocolate brown slipcover on my couch where said shedding-cats laze away their days. I remember an acquaintance coming in one day and saying, “Why would anyone be so stupid as to get a dark brown cover for her couch when she has black and white cats?” What could I say, I liked the salt-and-pepper effect of white cat hair with the brown fabric? I never asked her back again — or maybe she refused to come having left with fuzzy reminders of her visit. She was right, though I would never admit it to her. I had momentarily thought about the Cat Hair Problem when I was going through the catalogue of one thousand or more fabric samples but my love of that chocolate brown overrulled my practicality. Not such a good decision in retrospect — I’ll just add it to a whole lot of my other Bad Decisions in Retrospect.
Maybe the situation wouldn’t have gotten to this extreme if I had pulled out that old vacuum cleaner every once in a while. But I hate vacuuming, I really do. It hurts my back and my feet and it makes me whine so much the cats stay in hiding the rest of the day. But the worst part is that the old, broken-handle, no-on-off-switch vacuum doesn’t even pick up CAT HAIR. Why bother, eh? I can run that sucker back and forth across that rug and not one follicle of hair is disturbed from it’s resting place deep in the weave of that Ikea rug. So in order to dislodge the hair, I have to first get a scrub brush on a handle and brush the bloody carpet and then vacuum just to capture a third of what lies there. Believe me, there is always something more pressing to do than vacuuming — like chewing gum or watching the faucet drip.
So the cats were understandably wary and shocked when I pulled that seldom-seen machine out of the closet. They were surprised (maybe even impressed) that I even knew where the cord was hidden. But then, when I plugged it in, they knew I was serous and headed upstairs convinced that I had truly gone mad this time. I was on a mission and I was not to be stopped. I stripped their comfy, hair-matted, winter schmattas from the back of the couch and then attacked every little hair like it was my personal enemy. I brushed up piles and piles and piles of the stuff from the carpet, wiped it off the table and still there was more. After an hour, I said enough is enough. I covered the back of the couch in a clean, hair-free-for-the-moment throw. It looked good.
Then, I called the cats down for a serious chat. Now anyone who has cats knows that cats consider very few things serious enough to talk about. Those subjects are limited to food, clean littler, no-vet-visits, treats and more food. Everything else is considered nagging. Certainly, a few stray hairs left on the furniture is not high on their list of serious and certainly does not warrant their attention. I pushed on. I told them they would have to do their summer shedding outside. On hearing this, Nick pretended to sleep with one eye open. Rose, never one for subtle jestures, stood up and magnificently turned her back on me and pretended to be contemplating the painting on the wall. She murmured under her breath that if a certain owner would every-now-and-then pick up the brush and run it down her back, she wouldn’t be leaving so much of her precious fur on this precious couch.
It’s been three days since my mad cleaning — the hair is back, even with brushings. Maybe there’s a way to market it for pillow stuffing or maybe as a fertilizer or maybe I could make it into some funky piece of art or maybe I’ll just keep vacuuming.