Bathing as Martial Art
Some people say cats never
have to be bathed. They say cats lick themselves clean. They say cats have
a special enzyme of some sort in their saliva that works like new,
improved Wisk--dislodging the dirt where it hides and whisking it away.
I've spent most of my life
believing this folklore. Like most blind believers, I've been able to
discount all the facts to the contrary - the kitty odors that lurk in the
corners of the garage and dirt smudges that cling to the throw rug by the
The time comes, however,
when a person must face reality; when he must look squarely in the face of
massive public sentiment to the contrary and announce: "This cat
smells like a port-a-potty on a hot day in Juarez."
When that day arrives at
your house, as it has in mine, I have some advice you might consider as
you place your feline friend under you arm and head for the bathtub:
Know that although the
cat has the advantages of quickness and utter disregard for human
life, you have the advantage of strength. Capitalize on that advantage
by selecting the battlefield. Don't try to bathe him in an open area
where he can force you to chase him. Pick a very small bathroom. If
your bathroom is more than four feet square, I recommend that you get
in the tub with the cat and close the sliding-glass doors as if you
were about to take a shower. (A simple shower curtain will not do. A
berserk cat can shred a three-ply rubber shower curtain quicker than a
politician can shift positions.)
Know that a cat has
claws and will not hesitate to remove all the skin from your body.
Your advantage here is that you are smart and know how to dress to
protect yourself. I recommend canvas overalls tucked into high-top
construction boots, a pair of steel-mesh gloves, an army helmet, a
hockey face mask and a long-sleeve flak jacket.
Prepare everything in
advance. There is no time to go out for a towel when you have a cat
digging a hole in your flak jacket. Draw the water. Make sure the
bottle of kitty shampoo is inside the glass enclosure. Make sure the
towel can be reached, even if you are lying on your back in the water.
Use the element of
surprise. Pick up your cat nonchalantly, as if to simply carry him to
his supper dish. (Cats will not usually notice your strange attire.
They have little or no interest in fashion as a rule. If he does
notice your garb, calmly explain that you are taking part in a
product-testing experiment for J.C. Penney.)
Once you are inside the
bathroom, speed is essential to your survival. In a single liquid
motion, shut the bathroom door, step into the tub enclosure, slide the
glass door shut, dip the cat in the water and squirt him with shampoo.
You have begun one of the wildest 45 seconds of your life. Cats have
Add the fact that he now
has soapy fur, and the problem is radically compounded. Do not expect
to hold on to him for more that two or three seconds at a time. When
you have him, however, you must remember to give him another squirt of
shampoo and rub like crazy. He'll then spring free and fall back into
the water, thereby rinsing himself off. (The national record is--for
cats--three latherings, so don't expect too much.)
Next, the cat must be
dried. Novice cat bathers always assume this part will be the most
difficult, for humans generally are worn out at this point and the cat
is just getting really determined. In fact, the drying is simple
compared to what you have just been through. That's because by now the
cat is semi-permanently affixed to your right leg. You simply pop the
drain plug with your foot, reach for your towel and wait.
(Occasionally, however, the cat will end up clinging to the top of
your army helmet. If this happens, the best thing you can do is to
shake him loose and to encourage him toward your leg.) After all the
water is drained from the tub, it is a simple matter to just reach
down and dry the cat.
Do *NOT* try to use a
blow dryer. You might as well use a vacuum cleaner.
In a few days the cat
will relax enough to be removed from your leg. He will usually have
nothing to say for about three weeks and will spend a lot of time
sitting with his back to you. He might even become psycho-ceramic and
develop the fixed stare of a plaster figurine.
You will be tempted to
assume he is angry. This isn't usually the case. As a rule he is
simply plotting ways to get through your defenses and injure you for
life the next time you decide to give him a bath. But, at least now he
smells a lot better.