Why baths and cats don't mix – a scene from Jaws at home
IT seems as if everyone is talking about cats at the moment.
Fellow columnist Chris Jones, mused over the dangers of catnip overload recently and there has been no fewer than three cat stories in your Derby Telegraph in the past week as readers' moggies have been found, dumped and celebrated a milestone birthday (respectively).
That in turn got us talking about our feline friends in the paper's afternoon conference and it turns out that even our illustrious editor is not above suffering a bit of bother from his family pet, who has been "banging around" in the front room at 5am – causing more rumpus than his teenage son coming home from a night out.
So are you a cat person or a dog person? It's a question that can split any gathering neatly in half.
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I am bearing battle wounds from a recent attempt to give my own cat a bath. Yes, I do realise that cats are meant to be self-cleaning but our tabby came in from a night on the prowl smelling so funky that we could only conclude she'd been sprayed by an amorous tom.
Just for the record, our cat is generally the most low-maintenance and trouble-free animal. She has a tiny appetite, absolutely no interest in bringing in decapitated birds, no inclination to climb the Christmas tree and has such a nice nature that she regularly gets beaten up by our house rabbit. I had never even seen her claws – until the now-infamous bath night.
We were well prepared, having locked the cat flap and bought some tea tree cat shampoo from the pet shop.
My other half drew a couple of inches of lukewarm water into the bottom of the bath, we covered the floor with old towels and carried our smelly cat, purring, upstairs.
The tempest began as soon as her paws touched the water. With a hiss, she erupted in all directions, limbs flailing, tail slashing through the air and hackles raised, her entire body curling and writhing as if trying to turn herself inside out.
Within five seconds she had hooked a claw down the sealant strip on the bath side and ripped it clean away from the wall.
Within ten seconds she had pedalled her back legs up my arm, leaving a trail of deep gouges.
And within 15 seconds both myself and my other half were saturated and the bath looked like a scene from Jaws as the water turned pink with my blood.
Anyone would have thought we were skinning her alive with the noise she made as my other half frantically rubbed the shampoo into her fur. The neighbours have since politely asked if everything was "OK" that night.
As I grimly held on to this thrashing beast, she sank her teeth into my hand.
My partner then became so flustered that he managed to dump a jug of soapy, blooded water over me instead of the cat.
The upshot was that we got the cat clean, she smells lovely now (although I pong of Germolene) and all is forgiven.
And the moral of this gory story: You have to take the rough with the smooth with cats. I liken it to living with a teenager – generally you just co-exist and try not to irritate each other too much but there can be touching, life-affirming moments.
Just don't tell my dad. He once spent £1,500 on some specialised orthopedic surgery for a family cat after it was hit by a car, only for the cat to get eaten by a badger six months later.