Thursday, February 26, 2009

How to give a cat a bath

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, 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.)

Cats have 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. Use 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.

Use the element of surprise. Pick up your cat nonchalantly, as if to simply carry him to his dish. (Cats will not usually notice your strange attire. They have little or no interest in fashion as a rule.)

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. 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 too much.)

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 with 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 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.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So many cats, so little time

Finally. I can sit down and write. I didn't know too many cats could wipe out 24 hours in a day so easily. 24 hours? Heck, it's just a blink. There just isn't enough time to bathe, groom, feed, play, feed, massage, clean litter boxes, massage, feed, babysit 13 cats and three kittens. Not to mention brush, bathe, feed, and play with four dogs.
So keeping cats must be tiring, you say. Tiring? Not when you love bathing, grooming, feeding, playing, massaging cats or cleaning their litter boxes. It is exhausting! And their upkeep can burn a hole in your pocket, or checkbook, or credit card, if you're one of those who managed to hold on to those plastics. Cats, unlike dogs, have no masters. They have slaves. Dogs will look at you adoringly and follow you around for giving them their chow, but cats will reward you a haughty glance for boiling that chicken, slicing it into nice small pieces (so kitty won't bust a gut chewing on a large piece), and serving it on a clean nice plate. If you get lucky, Miss Kitty will wound around your leg to show her appreciation for all your troubles. Never mind that you got an angry gash from tripping down the stairs. Oh, kitty's display of affection is more than enough to make up for all the scratches. I certainly don't mind the cuts brought by my adorable cats.
So where is the reward in cat keeping? Let me count the ways. Because my feline masters eat up my time, I no longer go to the parlor. It's also been a while (two years?) since I had a manicure or pedicure. Because I'm afraid of leaving them for long periods (like an hour), I have eschewed travel. We watch movies together (at home). And we dine together (they insist on keeping us company at the dinner table). So thanks to my furry bosses, I have saved some bucks that would have otherwise gone to such trivial human needs as a hair cut. Oh, and did I say I get my massage for free? Thanks to Pinky, who insists on kneading my tummy when I am in my threadbare sleepwear. With her claws unsheathed.
And best of all, they keep pests away. A sibling limits her visits because she can't stand having cat hair on her clothes. A cousin refuses to come inside the house because his daughter is deathly afraid of cats. And friends don't come for tea or coffee, they don't like cat hair on their brew. Guess they're just being snotty. Coffee with a bit of cat hair tastes just fine to me.

How to give a cat a pill

(A guide for new cat owners)

1 Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm, as if holding it like a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth and allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2 Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3 Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw away soggy pill.

4 Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5 Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

6 Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

7 Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

8 Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

9 Check label to make sure pill is not harmful to humans, drink one beer to take away taste. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10 Retrieve cat from neighbour's shed, get another pill, open another beer. Place cat in cupboard and close door on neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon, flick pill down throat with elastic band.

11 Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour short drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus jab. Apply whisky compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw away tee-shirt and fetch new one from bedroom.

12 Ring fire brigade to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologise to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

13 Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash it down.

14 Consume remainder of scotch. Get spouse to drive you to Accident and Emergency Department. Sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.

15 Arrange for RSPCA to collect mutant cat from hell and ring local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cat Quotes

"Of all God's creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat." - Mark Twain

"No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens." - Abraham Lincoln

"With their qualities of cleanliness, discretion, affection, patience, dignity, and courage, how many of us, I ask you, would be capable of becoming cats?" - Fernand Mery Her Majesty the Cat

"I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior." - Hippolyte Taine

Everything I know I learned from my cat: When you're hungry, eat. When you're tired, nap in a sunbeam. When you go to the vet's, pee on your owner. - Gary Smith

The naming of cats is a difficult matter. It isn't just one of your holiday games. You may think at first I'm mad as a hatter. When I tell you a cat must have three different names... - T.S. Eliot

When I play with my cat, how do I know that she is not passing time with me rather than I with her? - Montaigne