Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K.

Sunday, October 27, 2002


From: pud!psl@bellcore.bellcore.com Mon Apr 25 15:12:48 1994
To: Fun_People@bellcore.bellcore.com
Subject: Cat Bathing
Reply-To: psl@acm.org (Peter S. Langston)
Sent-To: jittlov@erehwon.caltech.edu (Mike Jittlov)
Forwarded-by: Flip Breskin
Forwarded-by: Stephen Diercouff

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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 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 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 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 you arm and head for the bathtub:

1) 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 positions.

2) 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
flack jacket.

3) Prepare everything in advance. There is no time to go out for
a towel when you have a cat digging a hole in your flack 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.

4) Use the element of surprise. Pick up your cat nonchalantly,
as if to simply carry him over to his supper dish. Cats will not
usually notice your strange attire. As a rule, they have little
or no interest in fashion. But if he does notice your garb,
calmly explain that you are taking part in a product-testing
experiment for J.C. Penney.

5) Once you are inside the bathroom, speed is essential to your
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.

6) Cats have no handles.

7) Add the fact that your cat 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.

8) 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 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 psycho-ceramic 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.