By Jeffery LaCroix Dear Dr. LaCroix:
I've heard that cats never have to be bathed, and that they have some sort of special enzyme in their saliva that keeps them clean. This doesn't sound believable to me because there are definite "kitty" odors on my couch and dirty cat paw prints on our white hearth. Is this true about the saliva? If we do decide to give "Nice Kitty" a bath, how do we do that? - NSP,
Know that although the cat has the advantage of quickness and lack of concern for human life, you have the advantage of strength. I recommend that you 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.)
A. Know that a cat has 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.
B. I recommend 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.
C. Use the element of surprise. Pick up your cat nonchalantly, as if to simply carry him to his supper dish. (Cats will not usually notice your strange attire. They have little or no interest in fashion as a rule.)
D. Once you are inside the bathroom, 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.
E. Cats have no handles. Add the fact that he now has soapy fur, and the problem is radically compounded. You can only hold on to him for two or three seconds at a time. He'll then spring free and fall back into the water, thereby rinsing himself off.