Friday, August 24, 2007

Bath time

You know, there is nothing like returning home from the vet's office with your terrified kitty to make a Wednesday morning interesting -- especially when you open the carrier to discover that your kitty has peed all over himself, his blanket, and the inside of the crate.

I was on the phone at the time, explaining Marlowe's dire health to my mother, when she suddenly heard me saying, "Shit. Oh, shit! Oh my god, oh shit!"

This is because Marlowe had just streaked across the apartment, trailing a whole lot of unpleasantness. Naturally, my reaction was to sit in front of the puddle swearing while my mom implored me to go find a towel. Five minutes later, the carrier hastily tossed through the front window to my deck, and the blanket double-bagged in garbage liners, I went in search of the cat. I found him huddled miserably in the closet. On top of my shoes. Thus began another round of violent cursing, causing the cat to shoot straight over my legs and under my bed as my ever-patient mom suggested perhaps her dim-witted daughter might consider putting the cat in the linoleum-covered bathroom until I found a store that sold pet shampoo.

I coaxed him into the bathroom with food and water, then pulled the door shut and bolted down the street to the nearest pet store. Ten minutes later, armed with heavy gloves, towels, and cat shampoo, I returned to find Marlowe perched atop the toilet seat, wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Murmuring false assurances, I filled the tub an inch or two, pulled on enough clothing to avoid any major scratches, picked up the cat, and dropped him into the water.

As I may have mentioned, Marlowe is partially blind. Consequently, he saw just enough to notice that I wasn't guarding the open space behind my left shoulder. He leaped -- headfirst into the heavy ceramic sink. Undeterred, he repeated this procedure two or three times until I managed to grab his scruff with one glove-encased hand and pry him off the side of the tub. He then went for the shower curtain, and we began a long tug-of-war that ended when I decided it might be wise to let him stay tangled in the plastic.

Working frantically, I didn't notice the low rumbling emanating from the sodden mass of fur beneath my fingers. Marlowe chirps and churls, so I assumed I must have been hearing the pipes rattle in our archaic plumbing system. My happy illusion shattered when Marlowe turned and issued the loudest, shrillest shriek ever recorded during human-cat interaction. The shriek ended in a chainsaw growl, and suddenly I went from scrubbing a paralyzed cat to detaching a crazed monster from my sweatshirt.

During the fray, he kicked the drain plug out of place and wedged two of his hind toes in the drain. For a few moments, I thought I'd have to call 911 and have them come out with a sledgehammer and some kind of tranquilizer gun. Think bathing a cat is challenging? Try bathing a half-blind, raging ball of fury who has a foot jammed in the train of your tub. I finally gave up, dropped a towel on his head, and bolted into the kitchen to retrieve my olive oil. After dumping it all over his head while the towel shook ominously, I managed to pry his foot out of the drain. We then had to repeat the entire bath to remove the oil from his fur.

After 20 minutes, the bathroom looked like several furry gerbils had exploded in it. A layer of wet fur coated the tub. My back ached, and my sweatshirt looked like I'd hugged a cactus. I picked up the remaining towel, wrapped the cat in a neat package, opened the door, and deposited my bundle in the kitchen before shutting myself back in the bathroom. From outside, the sounds of a monumental struggle filtered through the door. Eventually, the tearing cloth gave way to silence.

I checked my watch. It was only 9:30. I probably needed to stay in the bathroom until at least noon, and I didn't have a book. I nervously peered outside: no cat.

I waited a few minutes, then went into the bedroom and snatched a random book off the shelves. It occurred to me that I was being ridiculous: cats don't actually wait for vengeance. It was all some anthropomorphic projection, probably guilt brought about by authorizing his overnight vet stay. Indeed, as I entered the main room, I found Marlowe sitting stiffly on the floor, looking puzzled but congenial. I slipped onto the couch, feeling my worries slip away.

Last night, at about three in the morning, the cat who avoids laps galloped headlong into my room, took a flying leap, and landed on top of me as I slept before bounding straight back off the bed to hide in another room. I'm pretty sure my scream woke both neighbors.


Auglaise said...

Cats definitely wait for vengence! One of my friends had a cat named Leo - she'd gone away for the weekend, and had left him on his own. The night she got back, she was woken up by unholy yowling. Turning the light on, she saw his head sticking out of the litter box. As soon as he saw she was looking, he stuck his butt outside of the litter box and pooped all over the floor.

Cats are vengeful, man, vengeful!

Kristy said...

We put the pair of cats in a carrier and put the carrier in the car for about an hour while the manager inspected our apartment (where pets aren't allowed--shame on us). The one cat got so upset he peed--on his sister.

She was remarkably forgiving I thought.