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
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
Use the element of surprise...
- 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
- 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
- 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.Ê Make sure the towel can be reached, even
if you are lying on your back in the water.
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 any second hand store such as
Frenchy's or any "Sally Anne Shop".
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
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 you 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.