Many years ago, our physician insinuated that my beloved Siamese might be responsible for my husband’s allergy attacks. He even had the nerve to say my cat and my husband should not be sleeping on the same bed. I gave this a great deal of thought for a few moments, and then explained that it really wouldn’t be fair to ask my husband to sleep in another room; after all, he was still making payments on our new bedroom furniture. Strangely perturbed, our physician suggested I try bathing my Siamese once a week to remove the dander that was probably the cause of my husband’s symptoms. Well, I did just that. The first few weeks were a bit awkward, I must admit, but in time we both came to enjoy these little shampoo sessions. Furthermore, my husband’s symptoms cleared up. The myth cats hate water, is utter nonsense. It is quite possible to successfully bathe your sweet feline if you practice your presentation, your organization, and your procedure of this delightful process.
Presentation is imperative. So, in order to have any measure of success, you must first understand your cat is not a dog. Dogs will submit to any sort of indignity to spend what they lamely consider quality time with their owners. Dogs are quite happy to be caught on the driveway, hosed down with chilly water, lathered furiously, hosed down again, and released to run the neighborhood, looking ridiculous and subject to ridicule from peers,. Cats will not tolerate such unpleasant treatment and if anyone is going to look ridiculous it shall be you. Secondly, to truly understand your role you need to adjust your mental outlook. You will not be “washing the cat.” Instead, you will be creating a tranquil spa-like environment and pampering your Precious with a tender massage and a lovely shampoo.
Organization is key. Your feline will not suffer fools or spastic moments. To begin with, dress appropriately. By that I mean, wear at least ¾ length sleeves preferably with a high neckline. Depending on the size of your cat, you will need a least two towels. If you are right handed, place one towel, folded in half on the counter to the left of your sink. This is the towel you will place Kitty on. Place the second towel to the left of the first towel. This is the towel you will gently wrap her in after her shampoo. Next, measure at least ¼ cup of mild human shampoo in to a plastic container. Dilute the shampoo with ¼ cup of water. Place the shampoo container to the right of the sink. Find another plastic container, preferably pitcher style, and place it beside your container of diluted shampoo. This empty container will be used to wet and rinse her hair. Now it is time to consider the lighting and background music. If you have good natural lighting, try dimming the harsh overhead light, and may I suggest a New Age, Sounds of Nature or The Best of Yanni CD? It is time to find Ms. Kitty.
Our spa-shampoo procedure should begin with some upbeat chin scratching. Meanwhile your assistant should fill the sink with comfortably warm water, deep enough to reach Kitty’s chest. Keep up the chin scratching and cautiously move toward the shampoo sink. Use caution and slow down. This is where most novices blow it. Casually, place your left hand under her chest, and your right hand under her tail between her back legs. Allow your fingers to hook around the top of her legs. Although you are supporting her by the abdomen, do not, under any circumstances, be tempted to swoop Ms. Kitty airplane- style into the water, as you will surely feel the consequences. Instead, lower her slowly into the water. At this point, a low guttural “meownnnn” sort of sound is to be expected. You may even feel some distinct resistance. Relax, this is quite normal. If you feel she is ready to bolt, move your right hand from under her abdomen and place on her back. Your left hand should still be under her chest with your fingers wrapped around her front legs. Maintain your hands in this position and apply firm yet gently pressure to keep her in place until her initial panic attack passes. Now, it is time to wet her hair. On cue, have your assistant slowly wet her hair with the plastic container working from the crown, to the back, to the tail, and then the chest. Next, your assistant should follow the same pattern with the diluted shampoo. To shampoo, starting in the back of Kitty’s crown, use your right hand as a comb, and work the shampoo through her hair in a downward and outward motion toward the tail. Follow this same type motion for her legs, chest and abdomen. You should be able to perform these moves without releasing your left hand from under her chest. Now, it is time to rinse. Have your assistant use clean warm water repeating the same pattern as before until the water runs clear. Gently lift your feline from the sink to the folded towel and place the remaining towel around her. Beware, this is the moment Ms. Kitty realizes she looks like a drowned rat and she will try to make her escape before anyone else sees her. With that in mind, pick her up, whisper words of endearment and quickly move to a small warm room, perhaps a bathroom. Once inside, close the door and proceed to rub any excess water from her coat. Go ahead and place her on the floor. Your darling will dart to a corner and glare at you from time to time while she is accessing the damage. Don’t feel too guilty, in a few minutes she will allow you to pick her back up. Continue to fluff her hair and keep her in the warm room until she thoroughly dry. Cats do not enjoy the cold and you do not want her to associate being cold with future spa sessions.
It would be remiss of me not to mention a few emergency scenarios. Let’s pretend, Kitty is not de-clawed and something has gone awry, no doubt your fault. Your little Lovely has transformed into a whirling, slashing, demon cat from hell and her front claws are firmly imbedded into the skin of your neck and her back claws imbedded into your armpit. Work one claw at a time. With your thumb and index finger, simultaneously and gently press on the top and bottom of her paw. Now, do not pull her paw straight outwards. Instead, pull her paw forward. This will unhook her nails. Another scenario, perhaps, is that her pretty white fangs are imbedded in your wrist. Using your free hand or your assistant’s free hand, come behind her head and using your thumb and index finger gently press on both sides of her jaw right behind her mouth. This motion will release her grip on your wrist. Make a mental note to apply some antiseptic on your wounds. More importantly, make a mental note to avoid whatever event prompted this type of reaction.
When Kitty is dry expect her to prance around the house and be quite affectionate. She feels good. She knows she looks great. Likewise, you will enjoy her silky tresses and relish her extra special attention.