Bathing The Cat!

Jeanette Berry, November, 1996

This story begins back in the early summer when a stray cat appeared at our house.  Tom loved dogs, but in all our married life he was never agreeable to getting a cat.  This cat, however, wormed it's way into his affection.  He'd be studying on the deck and the cat would crawl onto his chest, stare into his face with soft golden eyes and purr.

Soon we were feeding it.  I say "it" because we did not know if it was male or female.  We chose to presume it was a she.  A friend was visiting and he said, "That cat is a Russian Blue, a very gentle, expensive cat."  So I named her Bleu.  Every morning Bleu was waiting.  On occasion, she would come into the house, laze about, explore awhile and then want out again.

As Fall approached I proposed the question:  "What are we going to do about Bleu this winter?"  I decided I might as well face this head on, so we went to the store and bought kitty litter and all the apparatus that goes with a cat,---including a toy.  Almost $50 later we were set.

Bleu came in and lolled at my feet.  I began rubbing her when I felt something---a flea.  A big flea.  Out went the cat.

I began to question my cat-lover friends how to get rid of fleas.  Dip, sprays, pills, collars, but the most common method suggested was a bath.  I thought, "Well, I could do that!"  So I bought the shampoo and when Bleu came to meet me after school, I picked her up and began stroking her, using the shampoo.  She liked that.  Then I put on rubber gloves for protection and decided to rinse the shampoo off.  That's when the fun began.  She was not about to let me get her into the kitchen sink, so I took her to the bathroom and turned on the shower.  By this time she is terrified and I have lost any confidence I had, but she was covered with shampoo and I had to get it off.

There were screams and yowls (from both of us) and blood everywhere.  She shredded the gloves.  During the final assault Tom walked in and began laughing at the sight.  The cat took off and I was left shaken and bleeding. 

Bleu hopped from place to place licking herself.  She was making soggy wet places everywhere, and foaming at the mouth from licking at the shampoo.  She waited for her chance and out the door she went.  I didn't expect to ever see her again and felt very badly about the whole thing.

The next morning I called and Bleu came dashing in just as always.  She was dry and smelled very good.  She didn't seem to have any hard feelings over the incident.  I vowed that I would never try that again.

I wish that was the end of the story.  I decided to keep Bleu in the house all night since we had everything to accommodate her.  She wanted to sleep on Dianne's chest, so she lured her into OUR room and shut the door.  Next morning when I got up she was ready to eat.  After eating she lolled around awhile then went to stare out the window.  When I opened a door she caught me unawares and dashed outside.  I have never seen here since.  Here we sit with all the kitty litter, toys, food, and scratches that are healing and wonder what happened to her.  Tom assures me she will be back.

Have you ever done something when you meant well, but it didn't turn out quite as you expected.  This is a story about a cat, but I am aware that in principle, we can do the same things to people; things we may never get the chance to make right.  What should you do?
1.  Try to make it right, if possible.
2.  If it is not possible to make something right, then learn from it.
3.  Remind ourselves that even smart people can do some dumb things.

(Editor' Note:  Just before going to print the cat returned.)

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