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 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 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 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 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.)
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 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 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.
Grasp cat firmly in your arms. Cradle its head on your elbow, just as if you were giving a baby a bottle. Coo confidently, “That's a nice kitty.” Drop the pill in it's mouth.
Retrieve cat from top of lamp and pill from under sofa.
Follow same procedure as previously, but hold cat's front paws down with left hand and back paws down with elbow of right arm. Poke pill into its mouth with right forefinger.
Retrieve cat from under bed. Get new pill from bottle. (Resist impulse to get new cat.)
Again proceed as before, except when you have cat firmly cradled in bottle-feeding position, sit on edge of chair, fold your torso over cat, bring your right hand over your left elbow, open cat's mouth by lifting the upper jaw and pop pill in… quickly! Since your head is down by your knees, you won't be able to see what you are doing. That's just as well.
Leave cat hanging on drapes. Leave pill in your hair.
If you are a woman, have a good cry. If you are a man, have a good cry.
Now pull yourself together. Who's the boss here anyway? Retrieve cat and pill. Assuming initial position, say sternly, “Who's the boss here anyway?” Open cat's mouth, take pill and… Oooops!
This isn't working, is it? Collapse and think. Aha! Those flashing claws are causing the chaos.
Crawl to the linen closet. Drag back a large beach towel. Spread towel on floor.
Retrieve cat from kitchen counter and pill from potted plant.
Spread cat on towel near one end with its head over long edge.
Flatten cat's front and back legs over its stomach. (Resist impulse to flatten cat.)
Roll cat in towel. Work fast; time and tabbies wait for no man – or woman!
Resume primary position. Rotate your left hand to cat's head. Press it's mouth at the jaw hinges like opening the petals of a snapdragon.
Drop pill into cat's mouth and poke gently. Voila! It's done!
Vacuum up loose fur (cat's). Apply bandages to wounds (yours).
Take two aspirins and lie down.
A man is driving along a highway and sees a rabbit jump out across the middle of the road. He swerves to avoid hitting it, but unfortunately the rabbit jumps right in front of the car. The driver, a sensitive man as well as an animal lover, pulls over and gets out to see what has become of the rabbit. Much to his dismay, the rabbit is dead. The driver feels so awful that he begins to cry.
A beautiful blonde woman driving down the highway sees the man crying on the side of the road and pulls over. She steps out of the car and asks him what's wrong.
“I feel terrible,” he explains. “I accidentally hit this rabbit and killed it.”
The blonde says, “Don't worry.” She runs to her car and pulls out a spray can. She walks over to the limp, dead rabbit, bends down and sprays the contents onto it.
The rabbit jumps up, waves its paw at the two of them and hops off down the road. Ten feet away the rabbit stops, turns around and waves again, then hops down the road another ten feet, turns and waves, hops another ten feet, turns and waves and repeats this again and again and again, until he hops off out of sight.
The man is astonished. He runs over to the woman and demands, “What is in that can? What did you spray on that rabbit?”
The woman turns the can around so that the man can read the label. It says…
…Hair Spray – Restores life to dead hair, adds permanent wave.
Lick-it Diet: Let them open another can of food. Lick it dry. Smear it around the dish then turn your nose up at it. An hour later you can sit by the dish and look at it with disdain, meaning; you don't expect me to eat this stuff, do you?
Rug Burn: Take chunks of food from the plate and drop it on the rug just inside the living room. This is always good to burn them up.
Where's my Milk? Sit in front of the fridge with your back to them. Be patient because sometimes they won't get up until a commercial. Look over your shoulder at them with a pitiful look. They feel so guilty for making you wait, they'll give you the heavy cream.
Confusion Say: Yes, I know I ate some of that this morning, but that was this morning. I don't want any more of that. Make them open another can of something different. Always keep them confused about your diet.
Redecorate: A few spots of dried food look great on the baseboard. The harder it gets, the harder they work!
Birds and Mice and Things Not Nice: Always bring home your quarry. Be sure to mess it up. Entrails are a nice touch. Leave it just outside the front door if possible. It's always good if they're not looking down and step on it. This is the Cat's Meow!
Indecision: Sit at the screen door looking out. They almost always think you want to go out. Run away when they open the door. Three or four times is enough to drive them up the wall.
In and Out: Sit looking at the doorknob. When they open the door, take your time. Take a good look around, pull your head back in. Look around the room. You don't have to decide quickly. Most of them will hold the door until you get the lay of the land and see which way the wind blows. For a real treat, after several minutes, back into the room, then look at them and say, “What're you holding the door open for?”
Potty Time: Even if you don't have to go, time your visit for about 3 A.M. Climb on their bed and get in their face. Tickle them with your whiskers until they wake up. Make a stop by the fridge. It's always worth a try to see if he gives you some milk. If he does, you can always wake him again at 4 A.M.
Foil and Toil: A ball of foil is great to play with. Be sure to shred it and scatter the pieces.
Walking: The main object here is to get underfoot. It's also fun to startle them. As often as possible, dart quickly and as close as possible in front of the human, especially on stairs, when they have something in their arms, in the dark, and when they first get up in the morning. This will help their coordination skills.
Dogs: Always act afraid of dogs in front of humans. They feel so sorry they pick you up to comfort you. Put on a big show and hang on for life.
Barf: If you have to throw up, get to a bed quickly. Barf in the middle of the quilt, preferably a good thick one that doesn't fit in the washer. It will give the human a chance to go to a Laundromat and spend more money. Add this cost to the total you're already costing them. It makes you feel treasured and expensive. If you cannot manage to get to a quilt, try a chair or an Oriental rug. If there is no Oriental rug, shag is good. When throwing up on the carpet, make sure you back up so that it is as long as the human's bare foot. Move around as much as possible to leave a glob, here, there and everywhere. Stand back and watch your mistress gag while she tries to clean it up.
Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow: If you have a bite, be sure to pull a few hairs out. Try to leave them against a nice background where someone is sure to sit. This is sure to get you a nice brushing. Most cats doze off while they are brushed. It's almost better than being petted.
Another Cat? No way! Establish your territory early. Make that intruder respect you. He'll give you lots of room and walk around you. When you know he wants to eat, go over and pick on the food so he has to wait. If you like his food, steal it. Deny him all privileges. Be sure to carry on if they give him any attention.
Bathrooms: Always sit just around the corner of the door so they narrowly miss stepping on you. Smile as they trip and bang into the wall. Hide under the table until they calm down and want to pet you and calm you down.
Hampering: If one of your humans is engaged in some close activity and the other is idle, stay with the busy one. This is called “helping”, otherwise known as “hampering”. The following are the rules for “hampering”:
Bedtime: Always sleep on the humans at night so they cannot move around.
Play: This is an important part of your life. Get enough sleep in the daytime so you are fresh for your nocturnal games. It is crucial, though, to maintain one's dignity at all times. If you should have an accident during play, such as falling off a chair, immediately wash a part of your body as if to say “I meant to do that!” It fools those humans every time.
Paper Bags: Within paper bags dwell the Bag Mice. They are small and camouflaged to be the same color as the bag, so they are hard to see. But you can easily hear the crinkling noises they make as they scurry around the bag. Anything, up to and including shredding the bag, can be done to kill them.
Scratching Posts: The arms of their easy chairs are great places to scratch and claw the fabric. You need to leave your mark on the world. This always gets their attention. Hassocks are also good scratching posts. It is advised that cats use any scratching post the humans may provide. They are very protective of what they think is their property and will object strongly if they catch you sharpening your claws on it.
Humans: Humans have three primary functions: to feed us, to play with and give attention to us, and to clean the litter box. It is important to maintain one's dignity when around humans so that they will not forget who is the master of the house. Humans need to know basic rules. They can be taught if you start early and are consistent. You will then have a smooth-running household.
Chairs and Rugs: If you have to throw up, get into a chair quickly. If you cannot manage in time get to an oriental rug. If no oriental rug, shag is good.
Doors: Do not allow closed doors in any room. To get a door opened, stand on hind legs and hammer with fore paws. Once door is open, it is not necessary to use it. After you have ordered an outside door opened, stand halfway in and out, and think about several things. This is particularly important during very cold weather, rain, snow and mosquito season.
Guests: Quickly determine which guest hates cats the most. Sit on that human's lap. If you can arrange to have Friskies Fish-N-Glop on your breath, so much the better. For sitting on laps or rubbing against trousers, select fabric and color which contrasts well with your fur. For example, white-furred cats should go to black wool clothing. For walking among dishes on dinner table, be prepared to look surprised and hurt when scolded. The idea is to convey, “But you allow me on the table when company isn't here.” Always accompany guest to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything. Just sit and stare.
Work: If one of your humans is sewing or writing and another is idle, stay with the busy one. This is called helping, otherwise known as hampering. Following are the rules for hampering:
Play: It is important. Get enough sleep in the daytime so you are fresh for playing Catch Mouse or King-of-the-Hill on their bed between 2 and 4 am.
Reminder: Begin people training early. You will then have a smooth-running household. Humans need to know the basic rules. They can be taught if you start early and are consistent.
Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another?
When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it the same old story?
Why are there cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang, the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not one named for a dog? How often do you see a cougar riding around? We dogs love a nice ride! Would it be so hard to rename the “Chrysler Eagle” the “Chrysler Beagle”?
If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?
We dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID's, electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?
More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.
When we get to the Pearly Gates, do we have to shake hands to get in?
Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?
Let me give you a list of just some of the things I must remember to be a good dog:
May I have my testicles back?
Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road moved beneath the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.
Bill Clinton: I don't recall.
Bill Gates: I have just released the new Chicken Office 2013, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents and balance your checkbook. Unfortunately, when it divides 3 by 2 it gets 1.4999999999.
Buddha: If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken nature.
Darwin: Chickens, over great periods of time, have been naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically disposed to cross roads.
Dr. Seuss: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad?
Yes! The chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed it, I've not been told!
Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.
Fox Mulder: You saw it cross the road with your own eyes. How many more chickens have to cross the road before you believe it?
Grandpa: In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken had crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.
L.A. Police Department: Give me ten minutes with the chicken and I'll find out.
Machiavelli: The point is that the chicken crossed the road. Who cares why? The end of crossing the road justifies whatever motive there was.
Moses: And God came down from the heavens, and he said unto the Chicken, “Thou shalt cross the road.” And the Chicken crossed the road, and there was much rejoicing.
Oliver Stone: The question is not, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” But is rather, “Who was crossing the road at the same time, whom we overlooked in our haste to observe the chicken crossing?”
Pat Buchanan: To steal a job from a decent, hardworking American.
Ralph Waldo Emerson: The chicken did not cross the road. It transcended it.
Richard M. Nixon: The chicken did not cross the road. I repeat, the chicken did not cross the road.
Saddam Hussein: This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it.
How many Dogs does it take to change a light bulb?
How many Cats does it take to change a light bulb?
All of which proves, once again, that while Dogs have masters, Cats have staff!
One unforeseen result from cutting down too many trees
“I love cats. They taste just like chicken!”
Copyright © 2005-2017 William R. Penning. All rights reserved.