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2010-08-04 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Contrary to popular belief, even though cats are self-cleaning, they require baths from time to time, especially when flea-infested or covered with a substance that would be harmful if licked off. You can wash your cat at home without maiming Whiskers or yourself as long as you orchestrate the bath like a well-rehearsed play. Here is some advice straight from the script of A Star Is Bathed:

•Gather the props. It’s best to have everything- rubber gloves, shampoo, rinse cup, towel- at your fingertips before you begin. Cats calm down more quickly if they have a screen to grab onto in the tub or sink. The gathering should be done nonchalantly so not to tip off the bathee.

Make sure the product you are about to use is safe for cats; be extra cautious with kittens. Some pet shampoos are just for dogs. Read the bottle instructions beforehand. For a flea or medicated bath, the cat may have to stay lathered 5-10 minutes. It is easier to put the sudsy cat in a carrier while you time it, so have an open carrier accessible before you start.

“Truffle” ~ young tortie cat “Truffle” ~ young tortie cat •Set the Stage. Put on an outfit you don’t care about. Remember any sweater you wear could be pulled and destroyed Grooming smocks offer another layer of protection. Clear all drenchables and breakables from the area before you begin. Adjust the water temperature to lukewarm, open the bottle and put the screen in place. Many cats are freaked out by a hand sprayer so you might want to use the faucet and rinse cups instead.

•Make-up. You will finish with fewer scars if you do some preparatory work such as clipping nails or de-matting a longhaired cat. Baths make mats worse. If you have a rescue kitten with ear mites, clean the ears before the bath. When possible, use a tearless cat shampoo. Since most flea products are eye irritants, it helps to apply a little eye ointment before starting. Petroleumbased tubes are available at the vet.

“Albert” ~ Cocker Spaniel showing off his new summer haircut “Albert” ~ Cocker Spaniel showing off his new summer haircut •Summon the Star. Resort to sleight of hand or there will be no cat in sight when you are ready to direct Act I. Block all exits. Cats possess a mathematical skill to be able to position themselves under the widest bed, equidistant from either side, beyond the widest arm span of any human. Pretend to be doing something else, and then scoff up the feline by the scruff of the neck and gently deposit him in the sink.

•Lights, action, soaking. Make sure the water is lukewarm. Hold the cat with one hand by the scruff. (For novice bathers or tough cats, two pairs of hands are best.) Talk or sing to the cat. Tell her how good she is even if she isn’t. I prefer show tunes. Just add the cat’s name to the lyrics. Your duet may dumbfound the wet wailer. Soap the cat from the head back. Rinse thoroughly.

•Dry the Star. Wring loose fur carefully. Towel dry as much you can. Shorthaired cats dry quickly on a warm day. Longhaired cats, kittens or cold weather baths may require a dryer. You can put a cat in a carrier and use your hair dryer on a warm setting. Cooperative cats allow you to hold them and blow them dry. Never leave a pet unattended under a dryer.

•TheGrand Finale. Today’s fleaproducts make it easier to help a flea ridden rescue. Capstar pills work quickly and are good when moving a cat (or dog) from one setting to another so as not to bring the itchy hitchhikers. Topicals like Frontline and Advantage have feline formulas. In cases of severe flea infestations, comb the cat again after he is dry. Some of the tiny varmints survive the ordeal. Young kittens are easier to hold securely so I would take the baby outdoors for the follow up flea combing. Keep a cup of soapy water nearby to drown the fleas stuck in the comb.

If you don’t think you can handle bathing your cat, go to a professional groomer. Just be forewarned that not all groomers work with cats, and the price is comparable to that of a shorthaired dog. Use a groomer that has been recommended by a “cat person.”

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon. “Truffle” #20301 is a young spayed tortoiseshell cat turned in by a family moving to Australia (No bath required). She has been staying in a cage in the food prep room. “Albert” the Cocker Spaniel # 93377 was sent out to a grooming shop for a make-over. This happy guy is now sporting his summer haircut. Maybe now someone will notice him.

Female: “Bambina” #93447 a Pit pup who came in with a terrible case of demodectic mange. She is being treated at the shelter and is an absolute sweetheart. Other Pitties: “Jinni”-carries her bowl, “Star”, “Heather”, “Brownie”.

Male: “Rocky” a Pit favorite; “Bradley” the Beagle; purebred yellow Labyoung “Marley” clone #93460; “Nicholas” senior Shepherd/Elkhound #93439; “Garfield” #20320 handsome declawed cat in the lobby.

Reminder: Almost Home Animal Rescue (www.almosthomeli.org) Garage Sale this Sunday August 8 from 11 to 4 at the rescue office - 1521 Ocean Ave. Bohemia.

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