Cat Bathing as a Martial Art

  by Bud Herron

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 mostblind
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 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 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-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.

-- 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 your life. 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
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 semipermanently 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.

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

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.