Monday, November 02, 2009

Adventures in Cat Hygiene

Today's Cat Bath Experiment went rather well. My 11-year-old cats are indoor cats, so they're not dirty; I decided to try bathing them occasionally in an attempt to mitigate the constant shedding that seems to be getting worse as they age. I can tolerate the hair, but I'm worried about that angle of involuntary cat cohabitation being a major irritant to Brent, and also the hairball problem is just not going away despite lubricating snack gel and specialty treats and hairball-formula dry food. I'm justifying what I know is an unnatural (and detestable, to them) thing to subject cats, who are obviously self-cleaning, to by remembering that domestication is pretty unnatural anyway, so I should be able to do whatever's necessary to make life more enjoyable for all of us. And they don't appear to enjoy whorking up hairballs any more than they enjoyed being bathed. It seems to particularly knock B.C. for a loop.

Kitty, who is the less docile and braver of the two, made many more bids for freedom from the tub than B.C., but she never made a sound. She actually made herself useful by halfheartedly trying to climb up the far wall, so I could scrub her exposed belly with two hands instead of one while trapping her two front legs with the other. B.C. hardly struggled but howled loudly and plaintively twice, early on; I think the exaggerated sound of his own voice echoing in the bathroom upset him more than the relief of vocally protesting comforted him, because he never did it again. Brent wondered if the experience would cure him of spending most of his time in the tub, waiting for the faucet to drip, but I'm not so sure it will. He's a weird cat. I am not at all surprised that neither cat attempted to scratch me, hissed, or bit. They're very passive and good-natured cats; I can't get them to play rough even when I try. Kitty just hissed at B.C. when he walked by her... but that's not unusual.

After an hour and a half, both cats have already eaten, purred, and acted playful when they weren't compulsively licking themselves in front of the radiators (I cranked the heat up so they wouldn't get chilled while they dry), so I'm considering it a success (or at least not sufficiently traumatic to prevent ever doing it again). Their backs and front legs are already fluffy and glossy, but their bellies and back legs are still curly and damp. I've brushed them both a few times and got a lot of gray underfur out, more than usual when I brush them. My hand still comes away from B.C.'s black back with a few hairs on it when I pet him, and there really wasn't all that much fur in the tub when we got done. So we'll see in the next few days if there was really any benefit or if it's something we never need to go through again. I also want to make sure the pet shampoo doesn't dry their skin out too much.

My next pet project pertains to B.C.'s teeth, since I had his teeth professionally cleaned in March and his mouth already smells like a crypt; he can knock me out from the other side of the room with a well-aimed yawn. But that's later. Now I'm going to vacuum really good and get the hair off their favorite surfaces (the empty side of the bed, the stuffed stingray, the papasan cushion, Marilyn's rug by the door) to see if any less collects than before the bath. Then I'm going for a walk, because it's unseasonably beautiful outside, and it's hot in here. And the dirty looks are starting to hurt my feelings.

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