62: Blur of Fur

62: Blur of Fur

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Blur of Fur

I don’t think it is so much the actual bath that most cats dislike;

I think it’s the fact that they have to spend a good part of the day putting their hair back in place.

~Debbie Peterson

“Some cats actually enjoy being bathed,” my friend Bruce told me. Owner of a local pet supply store, Bruce had successfully bathed his cat, Fluffy.

He recounted how his curious kitty had batted some bubbles in his bathtub water and how he had gently lowered his blue-eyed beauty into the tub. “All went well,” he assured me, “until I had to chase Fluffy around the living room with a blow-dryer, equipped with only a four-foot cord. Other than that, it was actually fun.”

Inspired by Bruce’s story, I decided that my two-year-old Siamese mix, Oscar, should also be “cleaned.” He’d rolled in something stinky.

But how would I do it? First I checked out a copy of Complete Cat Care Manual by Andrew Edney, B.V.M. M.R.C.V.S. Armed with those impressive initials, Edney provided a “simple” seven-step procedure for bathing a cat.

“Make sure you get everything ready beforehand,” he advised. Further: “You may need to enlist the aid of an assistant who can help you keep the cat calm and reassure it while it is being bathed.” Sure. Right.

Step four advised me to “handle the cat firmly but gently. A cat does not like getting his fur wet and may try to scratch or bite. Talk to the cat to reassure it.” (That word “reassure” kept popping up and was starting to bother me.)

Under step seven Edney advised: “If the cat is not frightened, dry it thoroughly with a hairdryer.” (Now the word “if” was starting to bother me.)

Since Edney’s advice seemed a tad scary, I decided to pursue option two — purchasing helpful items to alleviate hazardous duty. I found a pricey item in a pet supplies catalog — the Bath ’n Carry, a “pet-friendly restraint [that] comfortably slips over your cat to secure him without trauma.” That seemed like something that might safely immobilize Oscar.

Bruce’s store also afforded some useful “backup” items, such as Quick ’n Easy Cat and Kitten Shampoo that didn’t require dipping, Quick Bath with five pre-moistened wipes, a Quick Fit Muzzle, and some stress-reduction pills for Oscar (or me).

But it was option three that won out. Always one to savor new adventures, I opted to bathe Oscar the old-fashioned way — shampoo and water, in the shower.

Weighing the situation, I concluded that Oscar had the advantage of quickness, cunning, claws that could remove all skin from my body, and a lack of concern for human life. I had the element of surprise, strength, and the advantage of battlefield selection.

So I chose a fairly large bathroom with a shower enclosed by a sturdy glass door. I needed a small manageable area for the skirmish, ruling out shower curtains that cats can shred.

I next assembled my special wardrobe for the occasion — a long-sleeved jacket, sturdy overalls tucked into my high-top boots, heavy gloves, and (just for “fun”) my bullet-nicked Belgian army helmet.

I began by nonchalantly scooping up Oscar, as if to transport him to his food dish. Since Oscar wasn’t fashion-conscious, he hardly noticed my attire.

With everything carefully laid out in the bathroom, I moved inside and, in one liquid motion, shut the bathroom door, stepped into the shower enclosure, shut the glass door, dipped Oscar in the running water, and squirted him several times with shampoo.

It’s difficult to describe the next sixty seconds, since Oscar had soapy fur and no handles. He was more or less rinsing himself in a blur of fur.

Oscar next required drying — something quite simple actually, since he was semi-permanently attached to my right leg. I dragged him out of the shower toward the electrical outlets so I could blow-dry him. Drying out just a bit and leaving a trail of smoke, Oscar scurried out of the room to hide and plot his revenge.

I rinsed the blood off my face and arms, recalling that riveting scene from the film Psycho. Oh, well. Oscar did smell a lot better and I — I still had my pride.

My arm scratches faded, the red marks on my right leg were barely noticeable, and my partial hearing loss subsided in time. It looked like I’d beaten the odds.

Fellow cat custodians: heed my advice. Unless you loved Alfred Hitchcock’s shower scene in Psycho, never put your kitty in the shower.

~Robert J. Brake

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