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 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

	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

	* 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
	* 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 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 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.

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