Death of a Friend

The early 90’s introduced us to three friends known around the world: Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel. A few years later a litter of three Persian kittens was born in North Carolina. All girls, the kittens were named Monica, Phoebe and Rachel after the now-famous TV friends.

Some years later, Monica, a red tabby and white, came to live at The Catty Shack, Ltd. Her stay at my salon was to be temporary. The plan: I would grow Monica’s coat out, show her to a Grand Premiere title, and then find her a good home with one of my clients. All went according to plan except for the last part. By the time Monica’s coat had grown out enough for her to be shown, she had become a mainstay at my feline-exclusive salon. Monica was a celebrity, having appeared in local newspapers and magazines. Local patrons and nearby business owners would stop by the salon just so they could say hi to Miss Monica, who spent most of her days napping on the windowsill that faced Main Street.

From the very beginning, after acquiring Monica from my dear friend, Gina Hargett of Cotn Hill Cattery, Monica acted as if she owned the grooming salon. She would greet customers as they entered and sometimes usher them back out to the door at pick up time. She guarded the cash drawer and gave looks that prompted patrons to leave a tip.

Monica’s show career was short lived only because she granded so quickly. At that time I was showing two other cats simultaneously for national and regional wins. At the few shows I took Monica to, I often ended up with all three cats being in the top 10 finals. While my fellow exhibitors believed in an unwritten “one cookie per customer” rule, I have to admit that I rather enjoyed the hassle of returning to a finals ring three times over to collect a cat and a flashy rosette! Monica was a star wherever she went. It was her way.

When I started the NCGIA in 2007 and began speaking at various tradeshows, Monica went with me. She loved the limelight – being on stage as a demo cat. In between demos and seminars, she would lounge on the table at the NCGIA booth, allowing anyone who wished to stop and pet her.

I can’t even count the number of times that Monica allowed me to demonstrate the use of the Air Muzzle on her – even though she would never dream of biting anyone. She was always such a good sport about that!

In 2009 I was allowed to participate in a grooming competition at Atlanta Pet Fair with a cat. This was a first. The show also included a runway competition. Monica decided we were going to be in the runway – Army style! No matter if there were 18 dogs in the line-up, including Giant Schnauzers, Monica was going to walk the runway and do it like nobody’s business. And she did. Even though we were not eligible for competition because I was a speaker at that same show, Monica earned the highest score, beating out every single dog. To top it off, she enticed the crowd to demand that we be eligible for the People’s Choice award. Show management wouldn’t allow it, and whether we would have won or not is still a matter of debate. Either way, Monica was a star!

A few months later, we competed in a creative competition in Knoxville, TN where Monica helped Tru and I take home the 1st Place trophy – an upset to be sure. Cat beats dogs. Monica style.

And after that, Monica flew with Tru and I to a show in Dallas where we did yet another Creative Runway competition and took home a suitcase full of trophies! Before the competition, Monica stood backstage with the Standard Poodles, totally unrestrained, as she waited her turn to work the runway. During our performance of “Before She Speaks,” Monica stunned the crowd by sitting on a small table at the end of the runway while I sang the parody. At one point I hoisted Tru up beside her on the table, where she stared at the crowd, soaking in the attention. She allowed Tru just barely an edge of the table for himself. The rest was hers. He’d have to deal with it.

After the performance, we had to walk the runway several times for judging and People’s Choice selection. And each time I placed Monica on the stage floor at my feet, she sat up erect and posed for the cameras. She was hot and she knew it!

In 2010, when we first opened the National Cat Groomers School, Monica took charge of the hospitality and reception department right up front. On the first day of class she would greet the new students and make sure their papers stayed firmly in place throughout class time. Monica guarded the main hall every day, giving the stink eye to any cat in a carrier that got a bit sassy. She was in charge and everyone knew it.

I miss Monica! She passed away a few weeks ago. Complications that come from old age. The inevitable.

I reflect upon all that this little red and white Persian cat has done for the grooming industry. Monica went where no cat had gone before – in so many ways. A true pioneer. I read something somewhere recently – a comment from a groomer about how excited they were to see how big cat grooming has become today. I think GP Cotn Hill’s Monica of Bara deserves the credit for that. I can’t think of another who has worked so hard and done it with such finesse as to make such amazing strides in a part of the grooming industry that was previously nothing more than an afterthought.

Thank you Monica. You are greatly missed!

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