The time comes when every cat owner must face reality and announce: "This cat smells like a
port-a-potty on a hot day in Juarez." Here is some advice you might consider as you place
your feline friend under your arm and head for the bathtub:
1. 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.)
2. 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
3. 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.
4. 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.)
5. 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 forty five seconds of your life.
6. 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
latherings, so don't expect too much.)
7. 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 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 cat.
8. 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.
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