Any reader who remembers the late Seventies may remember the Steve Martin routine where he describes bathing his cat, a project that went well though the fur stuck to the comedian's tongue.
Well, I gave a cat a bath a bath last week, and I will never try it again.
This cat, a gray male Community cat named Minuscule, had endured a bath in mild dishwashing liquid when he was a bit smaller, and I could not imagine he would object to being rid of fleas again.
(The white cat has no name. She is Minuscule's sister.)
Minuscule, a swaggering little man cat, had become a particular friend. He let me rub him, pick him up, carry him about the house. I intended to make him a house cat, a neutered one, who would avoid a fate of running all over the place looking for females and eventually ending up being eaten by a coyote, or getting hit by a car.
I intended to get him used to the dogs and the apartment, but first the fleas had to go-
This involved a big blue bucket of water, some organic flea soap touted to be safe for older kittens, and a resident fool to give the bath.
I picked up Miniscule by the neck, as his mother would have, squirted soap on him and dunked him in the bucket.
In the next few seconds it was as though I had been attacked by a half dozen thorny rose bushes. Glistening with soap Miniscule, with suds coming out of his mouth, retreated under the hedge. I, his friend, had become Satan's Spawn.
Horrified, I spent an hour trying to catch him to get the soap off. I had a towel to throw over and trap him, and thick winter gloves to protect my hands-
I tried luring him in with a felt fake mouse on a string. I tried sweet talking. And some of this drama
entertained the lawn crew, who already think I am a loco old Anglo woman, though that is another story.
I could not catch him, and there he cowered, spewing soap bubbles.
Oh no, thought I. He will run to the upper apartments and some one will see him and he will be foaming at the mouth and they will think he has rabies. The cops will come, and animal control, and they will take all the cats and kill them, and it will be all my fault and I will end up in jail or on Channel 4 at 6. Or maybe he will die from the soap before anyone sees him and I won't go to jail but I will be a cat killer.
I was depressed and despondent all day. I felt better when the cats came back that evening for food.
Minuscule, looking as thought his rear end had dragged through hair gel, was with them. He refused to speak to me.
The next day they all came back, though the little gray cat was wary. But no worse for wear, since he chugged down Tender Centers.
Now, a week on we are best friends again. I pick him up and pet him, I put him on my lap. He brought me another dead vole, give to him by his mother Brushy Tail, who is a relentless Stone Killer.
All seems back to where it was pre-bath.
Maybe he is just waiting for revenge. Biding his time. Maybe tomorrow when I pick him up he will bite my nose off.