Cat washing is a very traumatic experience.
Not for the cat, you dummy, for you.
Don’t worry about how the cat feels about it…he doesn’t like you anyway. Cats only tolerate people around them because we make eating easy by feeding them. That way their lazy superior hunter/prey genes can remain dormant and all they have to do is lay around looking insolently at you. Don’t worry about how they feel about it, just follow the Nike slogan and “just do it”.
Washing your cat once a year is often enough. If you do it more than that you have severe masochistic tendencies and probably answer “yes” when your wife asks you if her new dress makes her butt look fat. For folks like you, just go ahead and save your family the trouble and have yourself permanently committed to an escape-proof mental institution.
For the rest of you, before washing your cat there are a few preparations that need to be made to prevent as much physical damage…to you and your house…as possible.
First you need to decide which bathroom to use. If you only have one you are stuck with it, but if you have more than one some facilities work better than others. It would be best if there is a straight path from the bathroom door to the outside door, or as close to a straight path as possible. The reason for this will become apparent when you finish washing your cat and open the bathroom door.
Also, if you have a bathroom with a glass door enclosure for the tub, as opposed to a shower curtain, USE IT! First, it will help you control the damned cat sweet little kitty and keep it in the tub, rather than having to chase it all over the bathroom. Remember, toilets have hard edges that are at shin level.
The other reason for the glass/plastic doors instead of a shower curtain is that once you initially get the cat wet it will take less than 0.0002 seconds for the cat to shred the shower curtain into no less than 8,628 long ribbons of plastic.
Remove everything from the bathroom that is not nailed down or behind a closed closet door. Everything loose in your bathroom…towels on a towel rack, toothpaste on the back of the sink, the toilet paper…everything not nailed down IS going to come down. The only question is are you going to take it down and put it safely outside the bathroom, or is a cat, acting like it’s on meth, going to take it down and shred it to bits in the process.
Cat washing supplies
The supplies you will need are simple…Kitty Kleen Kat Kare cat shampoo and two bath towels…well used and ready-to-be-rags bath towels…because the odds are they will be rags by the time you are done.
Next, get the cat ready for the bath. Frankly, I think a triple dose of valium is appropriate, but you’ll have every animal rights tree-hugging environmentalist nut-job within 100 miles screaming for your castrati blood if word gets out you overdosed your cat to give it a bath, so you are just going to have to deal with a cat that is awake, aware, and angry (a little link there to a political post in another JuicyMaters.com section that you might enjoy…LOL), but you CAN at least cut Kitty Kitty’s toenails. That will limit the damage it does to you to requiring a 4 hour emergency room visit rather than the major surgery that cat washing without cutting the toenails first will almost assuredly lead to.
First, make sure your affairs are in order. Depending on cat size and whether it has been de-clawed or not, I believe there is a bit over a 10% chance the washer…that would be you…won’t survive. Make sure your will is up to date (You do have a will, don’t you?). Make sure your life, health, and disability insurance premiums are paid. Also make sure your homeowner’s insurance is paid. You would be amazed how much damage the cat will do when you open the bathroom door and it heads for the (hopefully open) front door.
A note to renters…check your lease terms. Many landlords have been through this before and have a clause in their leases that forbids cat washing. If you break that clause you may find you were evicted while in the ICU.
Now…how to dress. This is the most important thing to try, probably futily, to avoid severe traumatic injury.
The absolute BEST way to protect yourself is with a full suit of chainmail. Chainmail is hard to find (and has been since the 17th century) and is expensive…but it will double your chances of survival. If you decide not to spring for a chainmail suit dress like it is mid-January in Nome, Alaska. Think loose and layered, along with thick.
Short of getting the chainmail, there are two critical things you need to keep the cat’s claws as far as possible from your skin. The first is a helmet.
I’m not talking a regular helmet like a Hells Angels biker would wear when forced to by a state’s motorcycle laws…I’m talking about a full-face helmet with a clear plastic screen in front of the eyes, the kind you see John Force holding in the winner’s circle after a winning run in his NHRA Fuel Funny Car (serious adrenaline rush), while the race queen gives him a great big kiss. (He’ll need that helmet later when he’s alone with his wife and she goes after him with a cast iron frying pan for enjoying the beauty queen’s kiss WAAAAYYY too much…at least in her opinion. Hmmm…there is another post there somewhere…).
Last, but actually the most important, are the gloves…and not just any gloves…SERIOUS gloves.
Think about it. The part of your body that will be closest to the damned cat nice kitty is your hands, and they are in the most danger. If one angry, crazed, wet cat has access to your bare hands you may never pick your nose point at anything again. It’s really hard to point with fingers that resemble paper that has been run through a paper shredder…twice.
With this in mind I suggest you take a trip to the closest welding supply house and pick up a pair of welder’s gloves.
A note about welder’s gloves. Like many things these days they come in two qualities…cheap, or consumer quality, for the homeowner who has an occasional welding job around the house, and good, or industrial quality for those who weld for a living.
You want the industrial quality. Remember, you aren’t going to be dealing with a little bit of red hot molten metal…you are going to have a wet, slippery, angry cat on your hands.
You’ll need all the protection you can get.
Now let’s talk about the actual wash job.
1. Draw the water for the bath. You want it about 4-5 inches deep and warmer than you want to use. Why warmer? Because the cat is smart. He’s been watching you get ready and has been thinking he knew what was coming. When you brought out the welding gloves, that sealed it. It will take you a half hour to find the cat and in that time the water will cool to “just right”.
2. When you locate the cat, start carrying him nonchalantly toward the bathroom. It should be a pleasant stroll. You are trying not to think about the ordeal to come, and the cat is waiting for a chance to cause chaos. Upon entering the bathroom, move with lightning speed. In one motion kick the door to the bathroom closed, step into the tub, close the sliding doors, and drop the cat into the water.
3. You aren’t through moving fast. When the cat hits the water the shock will make him freeze…for about ¼ second. That is how much time you have to grab the Kleen Kitty Kat Kare shampoo and squirt all of the cat that shows above the water. The wildest minute of your life has just begun.
4. Keep in mind that a cat only has 5 handles…and 4 of them end in razor sharp and lightning fast claws, and the 5th has a mouthful of sharp teeth. Remembering that, try to grasp the cat, while wearing the welding gloves, so you can scrub on him for a couple of seconds.
5. When he launches himself in the opposite direction of the water…that is, toward the ceiling…squirt more Kleen Kitty on the previously unexposed underside of the cat.
6. If possible, grasp him…you have a chance as he’s beginning to tire…and rub and scrub vigorously while he wriggles free and launches himself toward the exit…the sliding glass tub enclosure doors, which he will splat against several times. Don’t worry about rinsing the soap off…he will slide down the door into the tub 4-5 times before giving up, and the repeated dunking will rinse the soap off.
7. DO NOT RELAX. He hasn’t given himself up to fate. He has just quit trying to jump through the closed tub doors and is plotting his next move. Incidentally, since he can’t get out of the tub, and since he hates the 5 inches of water in the bottom of the tub, he is doing his plotting while attached, spread-eagle, across your chest, looking for all the world like a really bad tattoo. At this point I’ll bet you wish you had followed my clothing advice and layered your clothing even more. Those claws are sharp, aren’t they?
8. Now you have to dry the cat. Open the drain on the tub, get one of the towels, and pry the cat off your chest and vigorously rub the cat dry.
9. Occasionally the cat will have his claws buried so deep into your clothing…and the skin under it…that you will find it difficult, not to mention painful, to remove the cat from your chest. Not to worry…just reach for the Kleen Kitty. As soon as he sees you reach for the cat shampoo the cat will head for higher ground. Higher ground, in this case, is your helmet covered head. The good part of this is that it will be hard for the cat to hang on to your hard, slick helmet. The bad part is the disgusting view you get with the cat splayed, spread-eagle, across the front of said helmet.
10. You are almost done. Yell to anyone between the bathroom door and the (hopefully open) front door of the house. The cat will be traveling at speeds you don’t think he is capable of, and if anyone is in between the cat and the front door, a collision between the cat and someone’s lower leg can result in instant amputation of said leg. Open the bathroom door and stand back.
There…you have successfully washed your cat. It’s not my call, but I think you are eligible for the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, at least.
What’s that you say? You want to know what the second towel is for? That is to staunch the bleeding from the dozen or so severe injuries you have sustained while you wait for the ambulance.
Now…if you can think of any ways to improve on my cat washing method, or if you enjoyed this explanation of how to wash a cat, please share in the comments. Comments are how I get paid for this blog. You don’t think this blogging thing actually makes money, do you?