I once had a cat named Murphy. Murphy explored everything. As a kitten, he proved to be a natural predator of mice and squirrels. He climbed inside every piece of pottery in the house, and when he matured enough to explore the great outdoors, I did not always know what mischief he found.
One day he returned home with a thick strip of black grease down his back, and it was very apparent where he had been. He had scent marked the bottom of the old car outside. This thick, one-inch-wide, oily stripe went from the top of his head to the top of his rump. The contrast on his white coat made him look like a reverse skunk. He came into the living room that day sashaying around – proudly sporting his new body art. Knowing how he would try to rub grease all over the house, the dogs, and me, I made a hasty decision! Murph needed a bath, PRONTO!
The idea of bathing the cat reminded me of an obviously fictional email that went around in the early days of the internet called, “How to Bathe the Cat” by The Dog. This little satire describes how you open the toilet, add soap, put the cat in the toilet, close the lid, and flush ten times. Then you open the bathroom door, open the toilet lid, and clean kitty will emerge like a bat out of hell.
Oh no! Not only would I never think of doing something like that, but my kitty would never need to be bathed that way. “He will not struggle,” I thought, “My kitty trusts me.” I believed he would sit in the tub like a little angel – just like my dogs did. I bathed many dogs – many times, and I thought I could adjust the techniques for a cat. After all, Murphy is just a medium-size cat. What could go wrong while bathing my gentle no scratch kitty? First, I would put about four inches of water in the tub, then collect the necessary items and place them in convenient locations around the tub:
Very Gentle Shampoo
Two towels (one for Murphy, one for me)
A pitcher full of soapy water to pour on him.
Next, I would take off any clothing that might get wet. (Yes, that means commando!) Last, I would sweet-talk the beast into the bathroom. Murphy had no idea what I had planned. He entered into the bathroom on his own while I prepared the water. Jumping on the side of the tub, he stretched his neck down so he could lap up the liquid. “Wow this could be easier than I imagined!” I thought. I would have stroked his little head if it were not for his grimy fur.
So, I scooped him up and attempted to place my dear feline in the water. To my surprise he instantly transitioned into the kitty from “The Exorcist” (if there had been a cat.) I had no idea he had such aspirations! Impressively double-jointed limbs extended outward at impossible angles. His head rotated around, and his face stretched into the most hideous likeness to a Notre-Dame-Gargoyle-Kitty. Cute little paws transformed into sharp vicious claws, and in series of quick digging motions, his back legs ripped flesh from my arms in thin painful strips. That cute little whiskered mouth produced fangs and reached for my hands. There was thrashing, spinning, and soap bubbles going everywhere, but once committed, I had to complete the task. From my mouth came squeals and curses. From my arms came blood where he scratched the heck out of me.
I was relieved briefly when he latched onto the shower curtain. For a moment, I heard tearing noises as he fought to climb the nylon material. But soon the curtain rod came free from the wall above, crashed down on the back of my head, and left a huge gash in the wall. Then he cleverly used my body to execute his escape plan. As if I were a springboard, Murphy pounced on my shoulder, launched onto the floor, and with a note “ha ha!” in his step, he bounced out of the bathroom and out of sight.
The whole event took about five minutes. I intended to dry off his squirrelly body, but I knew he was not about to let me near him any time soon.
A puddle of water surrounded me. Soggy drapes hung from the window. The bathroom, now wrecked, had a torn shower curtain and broken rod. I do not know if I got all the shampoo out of his coat, and I know I did not get all the grease out, but my arms were now like hamburger – swollen and bleeding. I also found random scratches on my front, my back, and the back of my head.
(Begin: Harp Music) Soon after, I was blessed with absolute clarity in housekeeping matters that involve bathing a cat. Next time I am outsourcing the job. (End: Harp Music)
WANTED: Expert Cat Bather: If you don’t mind seeing the sight of blood (your own,) love water, and love animals, I have the job for you. Must have outstanding animal communication skills and thick forearm skin. Dress Code: clothing optional, helmet recommended.