Winter break is the time to complete all of those annoying chores you've been putting off during the term. For example, yesterday my car passed its inspection. Woo hoo!

And today, Isaac and Emily passed their inspection. By which I mean the vet found that they're in good health (though Isaac, like his owner, really needs to lose some weight.)

Vet day is always very exciting. First comes the ritual of wrestling the cats into the carrier. I have a large carrier, really intended for small dogs, that comfortably fits both of them. I figure they take some comort from knowing they are not being tormented alone. But they are clever critters, and as soon as one of them sees the other getting stuffed into the carrier, it suddenly becomes every cat for himself. The second one dives under the bed or behind a bookcase or finds some other inaccessible spot.

The trick, of course, is to bring both of them into the bathroom before trying to stuff them into the box. Then by the time they realize they've been had, there's no place for them to hide. Cats got the claws, the agility, the speed and the cool night vision. But humans got the intelligence!

Into the carrier, out to the car, down the road, pulled into the vet's office. Announced myself in the waiting room, put the cats down. They immediately had to suffer the indignity of a Golden Retriever giving them a vigorous sniff. Happily, he quickly got distracted by the Boxer at the opposite end of the waiting room, leaving my cats to suffer in peace.

The vet did her thing, and the cats behaved like perfect little angels throughout. Didn't give her any grief, even when they got their shots. But on the way home they deicded to show me what they thought of this little excursion. One of them opened up every non-head based bodily orifice (I'm looking in your direction, Emily). Charming.

But the joke was on them, because this meant they had to get a bath as soon as they got home. Guess the one thing they hate more than going to the vet! As soon as Isaac discerned my intentions (I was holding him perilously close to the bathtub tap) he tried to climb me like a tree. Get to higher ground and all that. After marvelling at how long and sharp their claws are, I patiently explained to my wet squirming cat that he was not being released to the rest of the house in his present, urine-soaked condition. His anguished, blood-curdling meows suggested a lack of comprehension of this reality. Never before has a cat been so put upon as he was being put upon right now, said those meows. Emily was more docile. She's a very serious cat to begin with, and figures a certain amount of suffering is just part of life.

Lathered 'em up, rinsed them off, and dried them as best I could (the hair dryer also doesn't rank very high on their list of favorite things). Opened the bathroom door and they barrelled out at fifty miles an hour. Emily found the darkest, dustiest corner of the basement to hide in. Isaac felt that was too much trouble, and curled up on the futon and went to sleep. That's where I left them when I came in to the office this afternoon.

Now I have to go home and clean the fur off the bathtub. Maybe I should invest in one of those baby tubs. There has to be a better way to get shampoo off a cat then merely holding himm directly under the tap.

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I had an Emily who was the Bitch that had a house to run. All 6.5lbs of her being were put into bossing EVERYONE in the house around. Sadly, she died on election day 2006 at the age of 14. She was NOT a cat to be bathed, ever. All claws and teeth.

Then there was Cosimo, all 30+ pounds of him. Sweet cat and because he couldn't really groom himself needed frequent baths. He didn't mind the water too much and because of his size, he wasn't too quick. At 9 years old he had a laundry list of health problems and we had to euthanize him.

Last of the cats and the oldest at 18 is Randy. Randy loves water, even showers with me.

Just goes to show they all have their unique personalities.

Works better to wash 'em in the kitchen sink, especially if you have one of those flexible-hose sprayers for rinsing the fur.

When I take my cats to the vet, I keep them in separate carriers. I put them in the back seat of the car so that they can see each other, but I think it's too stressful for them to be in a single carrier. It's tough enough to lose your footing on a turn without your sibling/step-sibling falling on top of you.

I bear many scars from stuffing cats into carriers. But I have found a way. Stand the carrier on end with the door on top and open, and out of the cat's sight. Pick the cat up under the forelegs and place it gingerly, hind legs first, into the carrier. Works every time for all of my cats, some of which formerly inflicted to wounds that left the scars mentioned above.

Earlier this year, I bought a kitten from a work colleague. He is a DSH (in other words, a moggy); ginger tabby with white socks all round, and I named him Chico. He is now 4 months old, 2kg. at last weighing, and looks as though he will make a good hunter.

One thing I've noticed about cats: they're highly scalable. Everything from the domestic cat, through lynxes, leopards and panthers to the Siberian white tiger is very recognisably a cat. It's almost as if they were all made using some sort of three-dimensional pantograph thing! Which kind of makes me wonder ..... why don't they make cat food in zebra flavour, so that your ordinary little domestic cat can experience the sensation of being a full-grown lion?!

One of Chico's endearing little habits is to sit very still, with his front paws crossed. He's probably praying for someone to invent cat-sized Durex before February (probably the last time he'll ever get in his carrier without a fight)!

Yep, a baby tub or large dishpan in the bathtub. Partially fill it with warm water, then add cat and cat shampoo, and wash. Mane 'n Tail is good stuff, cheap, and available at Walgreen's. (Good for people hair, too.) I have a shower massage on a hose that is ideal for rinsing, you can direct the spray so you don't get the poor cat in the face.

AJS - zebra-flavored cat food, yum! I've always wondered why it doesn't come in mouse-flavored, too.

By Buffalo Gal (not verified) on 20 Dec 2006 #permalink

If you don't get a baby tub or use the kitchen sink, I've found that a jug of water that can be held under the tap or dipped in the tub works for getting shampoo off the cat. Better than trying to hold the cat under the tap, at least.

Also, cat-bathing is ideally a two-person affair, with one to hold and one to wash.

Buffalo Gal, I'm waiting for "Dead Bird in A Can". I once had cat and a budgie. The cat used to catch birds outside, bring them in, and deposit them below the budgie's cage. I think she was trying to tell us something.

Thanks for all the suggestions. You'll all be happy to hear that Isaac and Emily were back to their cute, furry little selves by the time I got home. From their behavior it was like nothing had ever happened.

All you need to wash your cats is a pillow case, a twist-tie, a bottle of Woolite, and a washing machine with a delicate cycle. For drying, a 30 minute dryer ride, low heat for long-hairs and fluff for the others. The hamster wheel effect promotes both stamina and cardio-vascular fitness

By CatsAAWOF (not verified) on 21 Dec 2006 #permalink

It's better to have an inch or two of lukewarm water in the tub and just set them in it. Running the water gets them alarmed. You can dip up cupsful to rinse. If the cat is really all claws, try to get it into a pillowcase up to the neck and just wash and rinse through the case.

I favour two cat carriers because they can't get into a fight if alarmed and irritated. Also, I can try to get one in before the other notices and it can't get out while I put the next one into a separate carrier. It's usually possible to pick them up by grasping the foelegs in one hand and the hind legs in the other, while they are standing; lifting them up about an inch; and "flying" them in standing position into the carrier.