Friday, April 22, 2005

How to Give Your Cat a Bath...

...and why the Hell you would even want to try!!!

We have learned the hard way that if a bucket with a trace of oil in the bottom is left outside for a long period of time, and you have a very rainy week, the water will fill the bucket, the oil will sit on top and appear to a kitty to be solid (albeit, Zoey isn't the brightest kitty in the world, but that's besides the point). Always wanting to be perched higher than ground level, the curious little cat may just decide to jump on top of the appearingly solid platform of oil. And unless your cat is the next messiah (now that's a really scary thought), he or she will not sit stoically on the surface. They will sink. And get oil in their fur.

I don't know if anyone has ever seen an oily cat. It doesn't look all that weird actually. It kind of looks like they're just wet. I was so preoccupied when I arrived home from work, that I glanced at Zoey, and thought to myself, "Huh, the cat looks really wet." This should have been a sign that something was amiss, but my cat has a peculiar habit of sitting in the bathtub and letting the water from the faucet drip on her head. She could have walked into the room with a feather boa, and I wouldn't have given it a second thought. This actually happened at a Halloween party we hosted. She fetched a boa from the closet, and pranced into the living room with it in her mouth, either side trailing behind her. She actually looked rather elegant and I just figured she wanted to dress up like everyone else. But, I digress...

You come to expect strange things from Zoey. So, I figured I'd never know what really happened that mysterious afternoon, and went about making dinner (Zube Boy, stop laughing! It's sort of a story, so I'm allowed a little poetic license).

Six hours later...

Zube Boy is in bed, and I'm reading in the living room. Zoey still looks wet. She's developed this strange tic. She walks a bit, shakes each of her back legs one at a time, then sits down and licks her butt. This tic occurs about once every five or so feet. Even stranger still, she's trailed by Zack, the dog, and Zander, the other cat, who are sniffing at her. She looks absolutely miserable, whatever that means. In fact, cats have always seemed to me to have a perpetual scowl on their faces, happy or not. How do you explain to them when they're on your lap purring, demanding love as though you never give it, that when you tried to pet them five minutes ago, they scratched you! Anyway, I put down my book, and decide to investigate.

I pick her up. She doesn't feel wet. She feels slimy. My first instinct is to smell her. Though I can't place the smell, I do recognize it as similar to the way The Boy has smelled when he's come home from a hard day of work. I'm sure he'll be able to tell me what it is. So, I hold the cat as far away from me as possible, enter the bedroom of my slumbering husband, flick on the lights, say, "Ewwww. Honey will you smell the cat?" and shove her in his face. In retrospect, that must've pretty strange for him, but being the fabulous guy he is, and quite possibly being accustomed to my odd requests, he took a sniff. "That's oil."

"Oil? How the hell would she get into oil?"

"Ummm, there was a bucket outside, and oil probably rose to the top when it rained. I bet she tried to sit on it."


We decide she needs a bath. Zube Boy, wanting to offer moral support, hops out of bed. You know, he actually hopped out of bed a little too quickly, and I think I detected a mischevious grin on his face that momentarily replaced his genuine look of concern. But, that's okay. In moments like these, I begrudgingly accept the fact that the cats are "my cats."

"So, should I just stick her in the shower?"

"No, you need dish soap."

"Dish soap?!?! You mean, like, dishwashing detergent?"

"No, like the stuff you wash the dishes in the sink with. You remember that stuff?"

Now, it hadn't been THAT long since I'd used dish soap, but I still didn't get how it would help the cat. Zube Boy, realizing he was dealing with a laywoman, explained that it breaks up oil. "Like in the Dawn commercials when the ducks are covered in oil from an oil spill. You know that commercial?"

"Oh yeah, those poor ducks." So, I retrieved the dish soap quickly, remembering my poor Zoey.

As my pajama clad husband and a very eager dog (who seems to have a sixth sense for cat torture) stood behind me, I stuck the cat in the shower, rubbed dish soap all over her, and reached for the shower nozzle. Zube Boy, always the nice guy, said, "Wait, let me run hot water in the sink, so the shower water won't take so long to get warm." As I relish the fact that he's so great, the water gets hot, and he gives me the okay. I turn the nozzle, shut the shower door, and step back. The Boy looks at me quizzically. "You're going to do it like that?"

"Yeah, why not?"

"That's not going to work."

Just as I'm about to pontificate my experience and success as a cat owner thus far, I shut my mouth. It is quite clear that my plan is not working. After only her fifth attempt, Zoey is close to mastering the distance she'll need to jump and perch herself on the shampoo shelf.

"You mean, I'm going to have to get in there with her?

Zube Boy grins.

"Okay." So, he and I both block the shower door to prevent the pissed off feline hellion from plowing through. I manage to get my hands around her. Then, with one hand under her belly by her front legs, and the other alternately holding her still and lathering, she starts to get sudsy. This continues for quite a while only interrupted every once in a while by Zube Boy saying, "Wait, what about that back leg?" A wet cat is not a pretty sight. Zube Boy said something about me needing to feed her more. She really looked like a rat. An angry rat with no chance for surivival unless it raises all hell. I quietly admire her agility. Humans would be invinsible if we had four legs which could move in every single direction at the same time! No matter how high I held her, one limb always managed to find a surface from which to push or pull. I experimented with this while chanting "Go, go, Gadget Cat!." I swear she's a really compact four foot cat.

Finally, I started rinsing her off. Just as I was about to ask Zube Boy for a towel, he said, "You're done?" Now, I'm not a genious, but I quickly recognized this as an abbreviation of the statement, "What are you thinking, you're not done yet." Defeated, I looked at the slinky wet mess and the pile of black hairs in the shower, and felt Zoey's slimy belly.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

After about ten more minutes, we were both done. It seemed as though she was only flailing three limbs at a time. Zube Boy grabbed a couple of towels and Zack pranced around like a kid who's just seen his little sister get in trouble. Zander was nowhere to be found. I assume he thought Zube Boy and I were systematically torturing all of the furry beings infesting the house and the dog was too stupid to realize this. Zube Boy kissed me goodnight, and Zoey and I recovered towelwrapped on the couch.

I figure, if our marriage can withstand this little nightmare, and live to tell with only a few scratches, I'm sure that we can make it through anything!

In fact, the next day while Zube Boy and I were cleaning the refrigerator, I said, "Honey, look, we're spending time with each other!"

He said, "You know, if you'd have asked me when I was in high school what I'd be doing now, I would've said I'd be with some really hot goth chick going clubbing. But instead I'm here cleaning the refrigerator with you, my beautiful wife!"

"And don't forget, showering cats!"

3 Leg Humps:

Storm said...

Oh, that was funny. And I can relate competely--I am forced to give one of my cats a bath about once a month.

Thanks for the laugh!

MarkD60 said...

Years ago I had a cat, Toby. When I first got him I was taking a shower and I saw these two teeny tiny cat feet poking around under the shower curtain. I reached down and grabbed one and pulled him in. He just stood there, blinking and looking around. From then on, he never minded getting a shower. He was an indoor/outdoor act, once he came home, all four legs and the bottom half of his body covered in this black, stinky oily mud. He wanted a bath that day!
Now I have my first dog, who would eat a cat. But I love cats.

mothergoosemouse said...

We had to bathe our cats regularly too. Fortunately, my husband started bathing them when they were kittens, so they were accustomed to it. That doesn't mean they liked it though. Caesar had poor personal hygiene in addition to naturally oily fur. He got a bath about once a month. Cleopatra cleaned herself all the time, but she did things like stick her head in the dusty AC vent and slink around through all the dust bunnies, and there's no amount of grooming that will counteract that kind of exploring.

It always amazed me to see how small their bodies really were, since they were Persians and quite fluffy. Cleopatra looked like a drowned rat when she was wet.


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