Our cat Steve’s origin story is something of a mystery. His foster mom told us that Steve and his two brothers were dumped on the doorstep of a high-kill shelter in Baltimore when they were kittens, but she didn’t know where or how they spent the first weeks of their lives. They could have been shoeshine boys, investigative reporters, or even game show spokesmodels; we’ll never know for sure. That said, I’m pretty convinced Steve worked at a high-concept hair salon.
I mean, look at that commercial gravitas. He must have had his own line of all-natural leave-in conditioner at some point.
Looks can be deceiving, of course, and claiming my cat is an avant-garde coiffeur because he resembles one is like saying Donald Trump is a good source of Vitamin A because he is orange. Where’s the proof?
In Steve’s case, he has a portfolio. My husband and I are heavy sleepers, you see, and Steve is fond of sneaking across our pillows at night and restyling our hair — especially mine. Is it a sign of affection? Possibly; cats groom their buddies’ hard-to-reach spots, such as the top of the head, as a favor. Is it a sign that we’re sickos who should keep our bedroom door shut instead of letting animals crawl around on us? Could be, but I’ve let a beast perch above me as I slept since I was a baby (my parents’ first feline and I were the early 1980s version of Millie the girl and Corn Dog the cat); I crossed that line decades ago. What we know for sure is that Steve feels he has a calling, and I’ve been documenting his work accordingly. It seems only fair, since I wrote a piece about what I do with his hair.
Here’s a sample of Steve’s work.
This is what happens when I style my own hair. It’s fine, but it doesn’t really sing.
In this early effort, Steve pumped up the volume on my fine, limp hair and really bent it like Beckham (circa 2002). That was widely considered one of Becks’ all-time worst hairstyles, sure, but ’02-’03 was arguably his best year as a Manchester United soccer/football player, even though he broke his foot. Good hustle, I say.
Is back-combing a form of affection? Does Steve have some kind of gentle crimping iron, or an ultra-quiet dryer? I worked at a women’s magazine for several years and brought home obscure primping gadgets all the time; anything is possible. The Aimee-Mann-ish, synth-pop direction he took on this intrigues me; it syncs nicely with the crispiness of my at-home bleach job. Keep it up, up.
Speaking of the ’80s, hats off to Steve for nailing the barrel-rolled look of Egon Spengler’s cartoon hair in The Real Ghostbusters, the odd, animated version of one of my all-time favorite movies. How did he know of my soft spot for cartoon Egon? (Oh right, he crashes on my pillow and I talk in my sleep.) If Steve can manage the Kate McKinnon version of this look, I might have to buy him that fancy tourmaline curling iron he ogles online when he sits on my laptop.
Has your cat styled your hair? Tell us — and post photos — in the comments below.
Read more by Lauren Oster.
About the author: Lauren Oster is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She and her husband share an apartment on the Lower East Side with Steve and Matty, two Siamese-ish cats. She doesn’t leave home without a book or two, a handful of plastic animals, Icelandic licorice mints, and her camera. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.