Maybe it was inspired by the rain pouring down outside when I finally crawled like some primordial creature out from the warm protection of my down comforter, but for whatever reason, I decided to proclaim today bath day. After wolfing down breakfast while simultaneously trying to balance a hungry baby on one breast, I strapped Hannah in her bouncy chair, found the nail clippers, and went in search of my first victim: the cat.
Most people think it's strange to bathe a cat, and maybe it is. It wouldn't be the first time I was accused of strangeness. In any case, I bathe my cat for a few reasons, the foremost of which being that I am still slightly allergic to cat dander, and the minimal assistance that a monthly bath gives to my immune system is well worth the struggle. The second is that my cat, Bean, has a very thick undercoat of hair, which ends up EVERYWHERE in our apartment. An occasional bath seems to help shed some of this phenomenal layer, and helps our vacuum filter last nearer to its full lifespan. Anyway, I always clip Beans nails, at least the front ones, before giving him a bath. We tend to clip both sets of nails about once every one or two weeks, to help him resist the temptation to scratch up our furniture. My husband wants to get him declawed. I'm a little leery, as I've heard arguments for this being considered animal cruelty (though I consider it human cruelty to go on clipping them, as I nearly always get bitten or hissed at in the process). Regardless, we can't really afford the procedure, and all our furniture is second- or third-hand, anyway, so it's a moot point.
Anyway, I clipped his nails, and managed to get the front two done before getting chewed out in Kitty-ish. Then, after his customary treat for sitting through it, Bean was dragged into the bathroom, and the door shut behind him. I started to run the water, then stood up and looked around. I couldn't find the cat! You can imagine my surprise, as our bathroom is only about 7'x5'. Finally, I found him hiding behind the toilet, and had to drag him out by the ruff. I quickly settled him in our customary position: him standing police-pat-down style, with front paws up on the edge of the tub, facing the wall, and me sitting on the opposite edge of the tub, my left hand holding his collarbone to keep him from skittering halfway up the wall in sheer panic. I had a bright idea today: leaving the faucet running, I turned on the showerhead every time I needed to rinse him down. Not only did this prevent the need for a cup to pour water down his back, but it was also much more effective and actually wet him all the way down to the skin, leaving no soap to make him all slimy. I gently encouraged him through the bath with "Good boy"s and "Great job"s, trying my best to maintain a relaxing tone of voice while struggling to be heard over his plaintive cries. At one point he managed to turn his head enough to give me a soulful look with the biggest and saddest eyes he's ever managed. I steeled myself against this tactic and managed to finish, finally squeezing him out like a wet mop and lifting his flailing body out of the bathtub with a towel. The minute I opened the bathroom door he bolted.
Then it was the baby's turn. A friend at Johnny's work bought us a baby bathtub and supplies, so I lugged those out of her room, along with a towel and washcloth. Then I got Hannah ready, taking off a dirty diaper and carrying her into the bathroom. The little dial on the bottom of the tub read that the water was too hot, and even though it felt fine to me, I managed to dump out a little and refill it with cold water using my one free hand. Then I settled her into the water and began soaping her up. Having had the extensive experience of two consecutive baths at this point, I can honestly say that wet baby is even more slippery than wet fish. The bath is rigged with a little seat and hammock to keep the baby from sliding too far into the water, but nonetheless, I had to save her from drowning several times. Finally I finished washing her and grabbed the towel to dry her off and get her ready to shampoo her hair. I was bundling her on my lap when I suddenly felt a warm wet spot grow on my leg. Lo and behold, the little darling had peed. Well, that seemed to upset her even more than it did me, because she started squalling, and I had to take her in to the changing pad and get a diaper on her and bundle her in a dry blanket before I could do the hair. Well, once she had started, she had no intention of stopping, and continued to cry and whip her head around all during the shampooing. I am proud to report that I managed not to get any shampoo in her eyes, regardless of the flailing. After drying her head off and adding a hat, I had to take a brief break to feed the poor bath victim before I could finally bathe myself.
All told, I think I prefer bathing cats to babies. But at least babies forgive you quicker. It took my cat three hours to come over and sit next to me again. And they both smell lovely and look beautiful now, so I suppose it was all worth it.