Okay, maybe you can make it up, but I swear I didn’t.
Tuesday morning, Adele came to me and said “What’s wrong with Sir Oliver’s tail?” [he’s our younger and more mischievous cat]. Naturally I had no idea what she was talking about, but panicked, thinking he had broken it or it was bleeding or something. Thank goodness, no it wasn’t, but the last 3 inches or so of his tail and a patch on his back were very matted and wet-looking. I checked him out and thought it felt like shampoo or liquid soap. So I asked the kids if one of them had spilled shampoo when they took their baths on Sunday night, and they both swore they had not. Since I was going to be late for Ward Care and the kids were going to be late for school, we did not have time to clean him up, so we headed out.
When we got home, I went up to the bathroom and looked all over; there were no signs of any shampoo spills, so I went back downstairs to see if there was a dishsoap spill in the kitchen or something. What I eventually discovered is that he had jumped up on the kitchen counter and sat on the window ledge, dangling his tail in the deep fryer Ian had used to make dinner on Sunday (don’t worry – it was not on, and the oil was room temperature). He must have also been dipping his feet in it, because Ian said he had cleaned up a huge puddle of oil from the kitchen counter earlier that day. Sir Oliver, for his part, must have been aware that he had done something really bad, because he was hiding most skillfully from us. Eventually he surfaced from whatever secret hiding place he had discovered, looking like, if you’ll forgive the pun, something the cat dragged in. His tail was goopy and slimy, his feet were not oily and sprinkled with cat litter, and he had clearly been attempting to clean himself because the patch on his back had spread and was no longer matted and greasy but was spiky and sticking out in all directions like porcupine quills. He looked like a bizarre, hitherto undiscovered feline-hedgehog hybrid. I wish I had thought to take a picture. It was obvious that he would not be able to clean the oil on his own, so I made the desperately insane but necessary decision to give my cat a bath. That’s right folks, you heard me. I gave my cat a bath. And unless you have had the incomparable experience of bathing a cat, you would not believe the sounds he produced. At first he just sort of whined and meowed, as if to say “hey, don’t you know there’s water in this tub?”. And then he reminded me most emphatically that cats are not generally fans of the water by hooking his front paws over the side of the tub in a desperate death grip and howling. I am not kidding when I say that he sounded like something from a horror film. I felt like the most horrible person on the planet, but I really don’t know what other option I could have chosen. Eventually I resigned myself to the fact that I would not be able to get all the oil out, and drained the tub. It took about 30 minutes and a careful combination of towel-drying and a hair dryer to get him to a semi-dry state so that I felt confident letting him go. I didn’t expect to see him again after that – if I were in his place, I certainly wouldn’t want to see me again for a while. But to my utter amazement, he actually came and sat in my lap less than an hour later!
Of course he is still not restored to his formerly fluffy self, and he smells like the kitchen of a roadside diner, but at least he is no longer leaving a greasy trail everywhere he goes. I wonder how long it will take until he looks normal again?