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A clean cat

Friday, September 17, 2010

Everyone has something to dread.

Maybe you have a fear of going to the dentist. Or having blood drawn for lab work. A shot of any kind. Large dogs that bare their teeth and growl. Snakes. Anything made with raw fish that costs more than cooked fish. Insects that sting.

OK. You get the drift.

At some point in my life, I have dreaded all of these things -- and many more.

Some fears I have been able to conquer. I now take shots like a man, although I was, I guess, technically a man for nearly 40 years before I got over my terror at the sight of needles.

Snakes? No way. I can't even stand to look at photos of snakes. If I see a real snake, I assume it's deadly, even the garter snakes everyone tells me are good for the environment. I think the problem with snakes is that when you meet them you've never been properly introduced.

For many people, including pet lovers, one more irrational fear is the thought of giving a cat a bath.

Most cats I've known have been self-cleaning. But occasionally you come across a cat who needs a bath.

The first Miss Kitty, a beautiful animal we adopted several years ago from the animal shelter, came into our home wearing fur that had seen a hard life. We immediately took her to a vet who strongly recommended a bath. His recommendation came with a chuckle and arched eyebrows. The unspoken message: Good luck with that.

I wondered how hard a cat bath could really be, even with an animal with sharp claws and teeth. I set up shop in the bathtub. I ran the water until it was just a bit on the warm side, not hot. I had the shampoo ready and a container to pour rinse water over the soggy animal.

As recommended by the vet, I held on to the scruff of the cat's neck and poured the first batch of water onto the dirty fur.

The cat started purring.

After a thorough soaping and several minutes of rinsing, I toweled the cat off. She purred. Afterward, she curled up in my lap for a long nap. For as long as she was with us, the cat pounced into my lap every time I sat down.

Last week we took the current Miss Kitty to the vet for her annual shots. "She's been rolling in the dirt a lot," I said. "Maybe she has fleas?"

Not maybe, the vet said.

Time for another cat bath.

Miss Kitty No. 2 is much more aggressive than No. 1. This Miss Kitty rarely does anything she doesn't want to. So, yes, I was a little apprehensive about the whole bath scene. Sure enough, when I started pouring lukewarm water over her cruddy fur, she began to purr. Rivulets of brown water trailed off to the bathtub drain. A few minutes later a soggy, but clean, Miss Kitty appeared. Who knew she had white fur? We thought she was born with a gray tummy.

I'm no longer afraid of cat baths. The list is getting shorter.


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You must be a cat whisperer. Can I bring my cat over for a bath??????

-- Posted by johnboy25 on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 10:14 AM

How to wash a cat: find toilet, add soap, add cat, shut lid. Don't worry, cat is self-agitating. Flush to rinse, open lid and run!

-- Posted by stardog on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 10:31 AM

Dear Mr. Sullivan,

This was a tender, perceptive column. It touched my heart about the kitty and really hit home about the dreaded snake!

You must be a kind man with some very sensible fears. We enjoy your work immensely always.


-- Posted by gwendolyn on Fri, Sep 24, 2010, at 4:33 PM

I have a Grandcat that will crawl into the bathtub even full of water, she just loves the water, I sware she is a dog at heart because she follows you everywhere. Good job Mr. Sullivan.

-- Posted by Speak Up I can't hear you on Fri, Oct 1, 2010, at 4:40 PM

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Joe Sullivan
River City Journal