I woke up early because of some annoying racket and did something stupid so I’ve decided to wax philosophical to make up for it. I determined that our cat was batting at our door demanding that we get up and feed him, water him, stroke his royal fur, or whatever his highness’s desire happens to be.
We have, by the way, the noisiest cat ever to roam the earth. Living with a nervous Rottweiler would be more peaceful. I burst out the door and swatted at him with my house slipper determined to have some quiet. He ran away to hide and that’s when I realized that he wasn’t making the noise.
Feeling a little guilty, I crawled under the coffee table to apologize to the cat and not knowing what else to do I staggered into the kitchen to make coffee. Waiting for it to brew I looked out the kitchen window and saw 8 to 10 guys walking around in the trees. Closer inspection revealed that they were walking around on the roof of the house across the alley replacing the entire roof. What an unholy racket. If we ever have our roof redone I’m leaving town for the duration.
Drinking coffee my I started thinking about the people who are in the “positive reinforcement only, never yell, scold or punish” theory of raising children, pets, or dealing with adult humans. It’s a good theory but doesn’t always work in the wild. If you see the your child or pet has toddled into the street do you yell at them to get their butt out of the street this very minute or run in the house to find a treat to lure them out of the street? I tend to be in the yell first and cuddle later camp. Maybe I was Genghis Khan in another life, who knows?
Then I thought back to the 50 gallon fish tank I had years ago. It was supposed to be a community tank where all the little fishes love each other and get along. You have to do a lot of research to figure out which fish get along in community tanks without eating their neighbor’s children or biting their fins off. Some fish like to hang at the top of the tank and others prefer to hang out on the bottom, some in the middle, etc.
It worked out fine until I made the mistake of putting an angel fish in the tank. This damn fish was pretty, but what a bully. He constantly roamed the tank chasing the other fish, loved to nip the fins of the fantail guppies and just in general causing a ruckus in the formerly peaceful community. I asked some experts and was told that I may need to isolate him from the community tank. So now I’m supposed to put a fish in jail?
One day I got exasperated and stuck my hand in the tank and touched the angel fish with my finger and chased him all around the tank wiggling my fingers. He stopped terrorizing the other fish. That seemed to work for about a week and then he started up the bully tactics again so I chased him around the tank with my hand again. He stopped again. About a week later I came in one morning and he was on the floor dead. He jumped out of the tank and committed fishy suicide.
I was horrified and heartbroken. What kind of fiend drives a fish crazy? One like me, evidently. I started the whole thing by trying to force the fish to live in a community tank after being warned he was a predator. I thought, in my omnipotence, that I could make it work. Later that week I was having drinks on my balcony with a friend and told her the sad tale. She burst out laughing and spit my fine boxed wine all over the patio furniture. I asked her what was so damned funny. She finally managed to gasp between gales of laughter, “only you would try to spank a fish!” I beg your pardon.
Well she kept laughing and after thinking about it I started wondering what would happen if the giant hand of God came down and tried to stop with me from doing what I wanted to do. Hey, wait a minute, I’ve read about that in the bible. Look what happened when God tries to force his humans into behaving like humans. All those floods, plaques, rivers of blood, lightning bolts, pillars of fire; people freaked the hell out, that’s what happens. And the resulting forced change is always temporary. It’s no wonder he threw up his hands and declared that we have free will.
Who let the dogs out? asks Colonel Klink. Well, I’m waiting?…*taps foot* It seems that I do not know how to properly care for pets. Or so it is inferred, by various harrumphs, eye rolls and other indications of…don’t know. Disdain? Frustration? “You have no clue,” etcetera.
Excuse me. I have peacefully cohabited with many happy and healthy dogs, cats, birds, fish, hamsters, ducks, caterpillars, snakes, white mice, lizards and guinea pigs over these 50+ years on this planet. Anyone who has kids knows exactly what I’m talking about. I am also the oldest of 6, so I have been in critter care training since the birth of my first sibling. Unfortunately, that is not sufficient evidence to the Mr. Husband. The King of Everything knows all, sees all that ever was, is now, or forever shall be, amen.
Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God that the hub-man and I married later in life so having children was not on the table. Had we gone there, we would spend lots of time at central lock up for assaulting one another with rolled up newspapers.
Our views on pets are polar opposites. He ‘owns’ them, and monitors their every move as if they were microbes in a Petri dish. I think they are cute and earn their keep. I feed them, take them to the vet, snuggle them, or shoo them away. It totally grosses me out if they try to lick food off my plate or paw at me while I’m eating. Makes me feel like I’m crouched in the corner of a prison yard trying to protect my food.
The main thing is that although we live together with the little darlings, they are not my children. Been there, done that, lived to tell the tale… but just barely. I have no need or desire to treat pets like kids. I think any living entity should be approached as it is. Not what you want or think it is supposed to be. That would like walking up to a cat, stroking your chin in contemplation. Well cat, I think I’m gonna treat you like …a buffalo! Yea, that’s the ticket. I’m gonna put a ring in your nose and walk you around pasture for a while. Then I’m gonna slap a saddle on ya and ride you town. How’s that for a plan?
On a daily basis, hubby will randomly approach me and ask “where’s Mr. Cat?” “Uh, I dunno, where he chooses to be at the moment?” What? Am I supposed to follow the cat around with a notepad? At 8:15 he visited the litter box. At 9:00 he rolled over on his back and started licking his belly. 9:30 a vigorous bug chase. 10:00 to 2:00 slept by the fireplace with one eye open. If you want to know where the darn cat is go find him your own self. Not my job. Let the cat be cat.
Hubby also sees nothing wrong with letting the animules turn our bed into a giant pile of mud, leaves, slobbered chew toys, and fur balls. It smells like a wet dog… on a good day. I’d just as soon sleep in a dumpster. At least I would know what awaited me each night. No one would complain if I wore a hazmat suit to bed. We have a sleep number bed. I like my side firm. He sleeps in what looks like a padded canoe. Maybe the sleep number guys have some add-on accessories. A cage that drops down from the ceiling and covers one side so it can’t turn into a petting zoo during the day would be fabulous. Maybe I’ll apply for a patent.
Here in Texas snow is a rare and beautiful event. Bathing a cat is an even more rare. Also, washing the cat is an excellent exercise in two grown humans trying to collaborate on a task that many claim is not do-able. The fact the said humans are married, and wish to remain so, may grease the wheels a bit.
This undertaking did not come about because of a whimsical urge or boredom. It arose from the fact that kitty suffered from some sort of intestinal outrage during the night and evidently rolled around in it. He and his bed smelled beyond horrible. Being one of those cats that likes to greet you at the crack of dawn by sticking his butt in your face added to the necessity of immediate action.
Checked the internet first with varied results on advice. Some fell under the “well duh” category. Fill tub with water, place cat in tub. Really? Some articles offered advice about protective gloves and such. I have found that if your cat is fighting so hard that protective gear is needed, the battle is already lost. Give it up. Tomorrow is another day.
This is my method for bathing a cat, based on decades as a rather laissez-faire cat owner, and a little research on the internet:
- Instruct Husband to get camera.
- Put on old clothes that you can toss in wash afterwards.
- Fill tub about 6 inches deep with warm water, depending on size of cat. ( less for a tiny kitty obviously) Don’t ask me how I know this, just trust me, Mkay?
- Toss a bunch of old towels and a plastic cup for rinsing in the bathroom.
- By this time curious cat and husband should be in the bathroom investigating, so just close the door. Or fetch cat.
- Fold a couple of towels to kneel on and place them near where you are going to open shower door. (if you have enclosed tub/shower). Put another folded towel over the edge of the tub helps if you want to give your back a break and lean on it a bit.
- Pick up Kitty, who is now getting suspicious, and lower into tub of water, while speaking abundant kitty praise in a low and soothing tone.
- Be prepared to quickly switch to a proper scruff of the neck hold on the cat because this is the most likely point for them to try to bail. If you are not familiar with this hold, and do not know how to do so without injuring the cat or yourself, forget this whole process and take kitty to the vet. However, relying on outside assistance won’t help much in future filth and yucky poo emergencies such as feces or skunk spray, so I strongly advise you to learn this skill.
- Maintain scruff of the neck hold for a few minutes until cat calms down and recovers his or her dignity. Some cats seem to feel better if you let them stand in the tub on hind legs with front paws on the side of the tub.
- Instruct husband to take pictures and not aim the camera up your nostrils if at all possible.
- Have husband squirt kitty soap or baby shampoo in your hand, NOT on the cat. Very important! Some unsupervised husbands will squirt enough soap directly on kitty to degrease an 18 wheeler so take heed of this warning. Don’t make this any harder than it has to be by needing to rinse the cat 87 times.
- Bathe cat however it suits your fancy. However, if you are using flea shampoo start at the neck so fleas are prevented from evacuating to the cat’s head. This is a sight I promise you don’t want to see. (Ignore husband’s advice at this point. If he thought he could do it better, he should have plunked his happy behind down here on the floor and bloody well did it himself. His job is to photograph the evidence.)
- Rinse cat well. (duh) Hopefully by now kitty is resigned to it’s fate and will go down to all fours long enough for you to rinse the belly easily.
- Have husband hand you a towel. This step is optional and it’s usually easier to allow kitty to exit the tub in whatever manner it chooses.
- Dry kitty, who is probably cowering under the vanity, with towels as much as possible.
- Use blow dryer on low setting. If kitty has not experienced this before, it helps to let it run for a minute or 2 before you aim it at the cat to allow him to get used to the sound. Start blow drying cat, ruffling his fur, while holding dryer at a safe distance. A safe distance is defined as; if it’s too hot for your hand it’s too hot for the cat. Also, If he’s cowering in the corner it may be easier to let him stay there instead of trying force him to your arms, counter etc. After a few minutes kitty will realize the he is cold and the warm hair dryer feels pretty darn good. You may notice that his ears, that were back, relax so he will willingly submit to this further indignity.
- When you decide kitty is dry enough or your hips give out from sitting on the cold bathroom floor, open door and allow husband and kitty to stalk out of the bathroom.
Now, wasn’t that easy?