Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Hanging the Cat Out to Dry!


     What more of a preamble do I need to make other than it was raining again?

     Everyone knows that cats hate water. They run from buckets tossed over them. You can train your cat to modify its behaviour by squirting it with one of those house plant sprays. Cats sit indoors all day sleeping when it rains. Sound familiar? Not to me! The cat who owns me is a bit strange like that.

     She seems to grab the opportunity to go out hunting while every other cat in the neighbourhood is sensibly curled up and snickering in the warmth and comfort of their homes. My Pusia even sat in the rain yesterday and calmly cleaned herself.

     So this is my observation and experience of how best to deal with a cat who insists on returning home soaked to the skin. She's not the most robust of characters. She's had her fair share of troubles recently. So I want to make sure she's dry again as soon as possible. Achieving that modest goal has proved something of a challenge!

The Water's Wide

     Although the man in the song sings that the water is wide and he can't get o'er, this is apparently no obstacle to Pusia. She embraces the rain wholeheartedly, often bursting back through the cat flap (in my bedroom window), triumphantly waving a mouse in her mouth and then standing on the bed, shaking herself like a dog!

     If I'm lucky enough not to be in bed then I have a narrow window of opportunity to grab her while she's in this happy place. Distracted by her jubilation at catching another poor unsuspecting rodent, I am often fooled into thinking I can scoop her up and manouevre her into a position where I can start to dry her. This is all done, of course, under the pretense that I'm celebrating her latest kill with her!

Rule No.1 - Don't Use a Hairdryer

     I can now confirm that a hairdryer is possibly more terrifying to a cat than a vacuum cleaner. Having said that, the vacuum cleaner holds no power over the cat I live with. She'll nonchalantly watch it sweeping back and forth as she perches on her high cushion. Only occasionally she'll become a little agitated and give it (or me) a swipe if it gets too close.

     The hairdryer, on the other hand, appears to have the properties of an evil weapon of mass destruction. Even the mere sight of it causes some unsettled glances. By the time it's plugged in and ready to go the cat is positively convinced that the only way is up. Claws firmly embedded in my biceps, the cat can make remarkably swift progress to the top of my head. Turning the hairdryer on by this time is a pretty futile gesture. I have no hair myself. I could use it to dry pin pricks of blood emerging from the fresh claw punctures in my head, I suppose.

Rule No.2 - Don't Use Kitchen Towel

     Paper kitchen towel seemed like a good alternative. I followed the cat downstairs to the kitchen and grabbed a couple of squares of paper towel. This didn't seem to arouse the same suspicion that the hairdryer had caused. On the contrary, Pusia now had a playful glint in her eye.

     She was momentarily distracted by the water bowl (thirsty business hunting) and so I gently stroked her with the paper towel. It got soggy very quickly as it started to soak up the water collected in her fur. She shuddered. Gently. Enjoying the strokes. And then, without warning, she lunged at the towel. I imagine it resembled something moving fast that she could possibly kill. Paper towel is a prized thing to a cat. It moves rapidly. It rustles. Best of all, it can be torn to shreds! It doesn't seem to matter if your hands get in the way. The most effective technique seems to be to clasp it in your front paws whilst paddling desperately with your back paws.

     For whatever reason, the end result is a mess of shredded soggy paper that the cat sniffs suspiciously. She soon loses interest and wanders off into the living room where there are more interesting things to do.

Rule No.3 - Don't Ambush Your Cat with a Towel

     By this point Pusia seemed to be under the misguided impression that we were engaged in some new and exciting game. I swear as I grabbed the real (as in cotton) kitchen towel from the hook and stalked her into the living room she was already sizing me up for a counter-attack!

     She was busy nosing around in her food bowl. I took advantage of the situation to creep up on her and drop the towel on her. I was hoping that I'd get her in a grip that would convince her to submit. She had other plans.

     It appears that cats have eyes in their bottoms. Without even glancing in my direction she evaded the towel. As it dropped over her this spectre like brown, white and black furry blur shot out into the middle of the living room.

     I took a second shot at grabbing her but she'd become like a liquid in my hands. Whenever I so much as made contact she'd evaporate and slither to some new place. It was like playing tag with Harry Potter!

Rule No.4 - Cats Aren't Stupid

     Feeling somewhat defeated, and being watched by a triumphant looking Pusia from across the room, I collapsed onto the sofa. Pusia seemed to take an interest in my lap. No doubt she sensed strokes and tickles. She jumped down and sauntered across to me. Not content with teasing me like this she then sat at my feet and stared knowingly up at me.

     Being human, and thinking we're so much cleverer than animals, I carefully spread the towel on my lap and made the clicking noise with my tongue that usually heralds the arrival of food or, at least, something pleasant. Ha! She responded with an alert body posture and immediately jumped onto my lap. More importantly she jumped straight into the middle of the towel.

     Cats are observant. Their eyesight is terrible and their hearing makes up for this. The instant she detected the difference in sound made by landing on the towel her claws extended and she was alarmed. My lightning reactions overcame the situation, for once, and I caught her in the towel as I lifted its edges over her now not so damp body.

     She was unable to run away from me as she was facing me on my lap. I could see the look of frustration in her eyes that she'd fallen for such a cheap trick. Pusia never bites me. Occasionally she'll give me a friendly nip but nothing serious. What she refrains from on the biting side of things she can more than make up with using her claws.

     Her frustration was directed at the towel. Being suddenly trapped in the folds of black material she became a swirling ball of feline energy. I rubbed frantically. She squirmed in a frenzy. I murmered soothing words to her. She screeched in protest at me! Finally she seemed to settle. Ultimately she ripped the towel to pieces.

Rule No.5 - Take the Path of Least Resistance

     In the end I was feeling quite exhausted by the whole experience. The towel lay literally in shreds at my feet. The cat, in characteristic non-judgemental behaviour, took nothing to heart and calmly sat on the mat licking herself. It was a rainy old evening and getting a little bit chilly.

     "Ah well," I groaned. "If you catch a cold then it's your business!" I lit the old gas bottle fire I've got. I did it more out of the need for comforting reassurance that everything was still right with the world than for any other reason. I just felt like it.

     Pusia stared into the flame. Then she drew close to it and curled up in its warm glow. Within moments she was toasty and warm and I could smell the faint but familiar essence of her fur warming up.

     It was a scene of peaceful companionship. Often she'll just sleep upstairs. Nothing delights me more than when she decides to slumber somewhere near me. To know that she's warm and dry again after her wet adventure was a bonus.

     If only I'd thought of lighting the fire in the first place I could probably have avoided all the upset. From now on I shall be lighting the fire as soon as she comes in from the rain. I'm afraid it won't matter whether it's a warm day or not. It's simply the easiest option.

     That's the best way to dry your cat! It was a good lesson in acceptance...