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 fireplace.
The time comes, however, when a man 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
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 your
arm and head for the bathtub:
— Know that although the cat has the advantage of quickness and
lack of concern 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-sleeved 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
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
Cats have no handles. 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 than 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 for cats is three lathering, 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 semipermanently affixed to your right leg. You
simply pop the drain plug with you 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
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
psychoceramic 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.
Submitted by Richard