Hiroko's Neko Page
The tale of the month...
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 whisks it
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 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
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.
- 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
- 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 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
- 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.
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. California State University, Long Beach, Library
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