Some people say that 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 just whisking it away.
I have 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 you must face reality; when you must look squarely in the face of massive public sentiment to the contrary and announce: "This cat smells like a porta-potty on a hot day in Juarez!"
When that day arrives in your house, as it has in mine, I have some advice you might want to consider as you place your feline friend into your loving arms and head for the bathtub.
ADVANTAGES YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT
First, know that although the cat has the advantage of quickness and the 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 her in an open area where she can force you to chase her. Pick a small bathroom where you have the advantage.
If your bathroom is more than ten feet by ten feet square, then I recommend that you get in the tub with your cat and close the sliding glass doors as if you were about to take a shower. Remember, a simple shower curtain will not do. A berserk cat can shred a three-ply plastic shower curtain quicker than a politician can shift positions.
DON'T IGNORE THE WARNINGS
Never forget 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 steel-tipped high-top water-proof construction boots, a pair of steel-mesh gloves, a bullet resistant army helmet, a hockey face mask and a long sleeved flak jacket.
ALWAYS PREPARE FOR THE WORST
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. Now draw the water. Make sure the bottle of kitty shampoo is inside the glass enclosure and that the towel can be reached, even if you are forced down onto your back in the water.
DON'T FORGET - TIMING IS EVERYTHING!
Now use the element of surprise! Lovingly pick up your cat nonchalantly, as if you were simply going to carry her to her supper dish. Cats will not pay attention to your strange attire. They have no fashion sense as a rule. if she does notice your unusual garb, just explain to her that you are practicing a new training exercise for the Search and Rescue Team that you recently joined.
Once you are inside the bathroom, speed is essential to your 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 her with shampoo.
You have now begun one of the wildest 45 seconds of your life!
THE SLIPPERY TRUTH ABOUT CATS
Cats have no handles. Add the fact that she now has soapy fur, and the problem is radically compounded!
Do not expect to hold on to her for more than two or three seconds at a time. When you do have her in control, however, you must remember to give her another squirt of shampoo and then rub like crazy while you have the chance! She will inevitably spring free and fall back into the water, thereby rinsing herself off. The national record for cats is three latherings so don't expect too much your first time.
NOW THE FUN PART
Finally, the cat must be dried. Novice cat bathers always assume this part will be the most difficult, as humans are generally worn out and exhausted at this point, whereas the cat is just getting really determined. In fact, the drying is simple compared to what you have been through so far. That is because the cat is now semi-permanently affixed to your leg.
Now you simply pop the drain plug with the foot of your other leg, reach for your towel and wait. Occasionally, however, the cat will end up clawing her way up the back of your flack jacket to the top of your army helmet determined to perch herself there for dear life. If this happens, the best thing you can do is to shake her loose and encourage her to sit still while you try to dry her off, at which point she will again attach herself to your leg.
In a few days, your cat will relax enough to be removed from your leg. She will then usually have nothing to say for the next three weeks, spending most of her time with her back to you. She may even become psycho ceramic and develop the fixed stare of a plaster of Paris figurine.
You will even be tempted to think that she is angry at you. This isn't necessarily the case. As a rule, she is simply plotting ways of getting through your defenses so she can injure you for life the next time you decide to give her a bath.
But, at least for now she smells a lot better!