Over the holidays, you might remember seeing social media pictures of a calico cat who appeared to have either grown a huge set of dreadlocks or mutated into some sort of freaky Japanese anime monster from the future. If the eggnog and champagne hangover has caused your memory of the festive period to remain a little fuzzy, this picture should help:
The cat’s name is Hidey.
It turns out she was living with an elderly person who had developed Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, a combination of the domestic situation and the cat’s overweight physique had left Hidey with eight inches of matted hair. How did it reach this state? With Hidey unable to groom herself due to her weight, and with her owner not brushing her, the hair she was naturally shedding began to mat together. Left untended for a couple of years, the matting became severe.
Thankfully, Paul Russell, a relative of the cat’s owner, intervened and has adopted the 14-year-old Hidey, along with another 17-year-old Siamese named Siam who was also living with the relative.
Paul says that he originally visited the house to feed Siam while they figured out what to do with his relative’s belongings after he moved into a nursing home. After hearing that his relative might also have a second cat, he started searching.
“All of a sudden, this creature darted and ran across the room and down into the cellar,” he recalls. “At first, I didn’t know what it was — it looked like it might be a cat dragging a blanket on top of it.”
After investigating in the cellar the next day, he found Hidey “hunkered down in the corner.”
He recalls, “It was this large cat with a massive amount of matted fur. It looked like it had dreadlocks.”
After scooping Hidey up — “she is a gentle cat,” he says — Paul considered taking her and Siam to a shelter — until he realized that the cats’ ages meant they’d have a hard time finding new homes.
“I thought they may be put down so I decided to keep them for myself,” he says.
At that point, Paul contacted the Western PA Humane Society and, in his words, “arranged to see what they could do with Hidey.”
According to Caitlin Lasky, the director of public relations at the organization, “No one at the Western PA Humane Society had ever seen a cat that matted.”
The staff members approached Hidey’s haircut as if it was a surgery — and she was anesthetized so they could complete the drastic shave session. (The process took just less than an hour.)
As Paul explains, after shedding her locks, it was discovered that “Hidey didn’t have eight-inch long hair — it was a big accumulation of half-inch hair.”
Underneath emerged what Paul calls “a very pretty Calico cat.”
After living with Paul and his family for a few weeks, Hidey has already lost a few pounds. That said, she still “slinks around” in a fashion that Paul speculates was picked up after “years of walking with that big coat on her, so she doesn’t have the grace of a normal cat walking.”
As for whether the newly shorn Hidey has resumed her natural grooming routine?
Paul says he hasn’t seen her groom herself yet, but that’s probably because “her hair’s still so short — it’s like a fresh haircut.”