Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cat bathing and the trouble with optimism

Due to Mr. T&A's having developed some kind of late-breaking allergy to something or everything in our house, we spent portions of this weekend washing the T&A Kittens in an attempt to encourage him to start breathing again. (Please note that I am referring to actual kittens, well OK cats, but anyway not Satanic alien spawn with perhaps unreasonably adorable names, a la Katie Holmes' TomKitten.) The delightful essay "Cat Bathing as a Martial Art" provides a fairly accurate description of the operation. Here's an excerpt:

* 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 jacket.
. . .
* 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.

He. He. Anyway, I was at first surprised to find that the first cat to be bathed, let's call him BoyCat, was much more sanguine about the experience than the second one, to whom I will refer as GirlCat.* BoyCat, you see, is generally a much more temperamental sort, given to hiding under furniture, eating shoelaces and the straps of tank tops (damn you, BoyKitty!), and generally acting like an unsocialized criminal.

GirlCat, on the other hand, and there's no delicate way to put this, is a huge whore. A maurading band of pirates clothed in the corpses of other housepets could pillage their way into our apartment and she would rub seductively against their legs, and then flop on the floor on her back to encourage them to scratch her belly.

But in the crucible that is the bathtub, BoyCat remained relatively calm, while GirlCat attempted to murder both me and Mr. T&A whilst screaming like Fay Wray in the original King Kong.

Later, while tending to my wounds, I contemplated the events of the day and concluded that GirlCat's aggression is really a by-product of her optimistic nature. BoyCat, you see, suspects the worst of everyone at all times, so when we started to (from his point of view) drown him, he thought to himself, "Just as I always expected" and didn't bother to struggle. GirlCat, though, had a Hamlet-pissed-about-his-father's-murder type reaction to the bath, and if her brain were larger than a walnut she might still be plotting to revenge the betrayal.

So the lesson for today is: avoid optimism! And perhaps bring your cats to a professional groomer.

*Of course, I would not reveal my kittens' true identity without their consent, and they have been cagey about giving it. For that reason, the photo above is also not of my actual cat, but of the poor feline soul whose Google Image self responds to the name of "Angry Wet Cat."


Plazz said...

But, T&A Lady, you're leaving out the story's exciting denoument. Can Mr. T&A breathe now?!?

T&A Lady said...

Sorry about that--Mr. T&A went to the doctor and is doing much better now, thank you.

Toolstein's Co-Pet-Parent said...

Uh.. I didn't know you could/were supposed to bathe cats.. does that make me a bad pet parent?

T&A Lady said...

No, you're not a bad parent--you generally shouldn't have to wash cats. This was just an attempt to wash off fur or dander or whatever in the hopes that that would improve Mr. T&A's allergy.

jcat said...

Did you consider washing Mr. T&A?

Toolstein said...

Also, I hear dipping the cats in boiling water clears up dander issues.