Yesterday I was so upset at the world that I washed my cat.
I think it had something to do with working a ten hour day and having my boss call me the moment I left the office. Twice in a row. And then text me seven times. Right in a row.
There is something about the beeping that my phone makes upon a new text delivery that I am unable to check that feels like a hamster is nibbling at my insides. When I know it’s my boss and I’m behind the wheel and helpless to know what the emergency is that inspires her to plague me so, that hamster gets upgraded to a gerbil. And by the time I got to the grocery store, called her, handled said emergency, drove home, unpacked everything, changed my clothes, and saw that the house was a mess beyond livability, I would have had a more relaxing evening had I just set myself on fire and run out of my office building before it all started.
But I didn’t. So instead, I took my cat for a walk.
Hobbes is an interesting creature of habit. Once upon a time, Dave had a pang of guilt about man’s domestication of felines and their tendency to remove their manhood once domesticated. And so to give Hobbes a taste of loveliness, he took him to the park, where I sang him a lively rendition of “A Whole New World”. Ever since, when Dave gets home from work, Hobbes paws and meows at the front door until we either let him out or shoot him.
We don’t have a gun.
So since I was at my wit’s end and wanted a breath of fresh air anyway, I decided to kill two cats with one walk and bring Hobbes into the great wide open. He doesn’t require a leash because all he does is roll around on the concrete like he’s on ecstasy and the concrete is neon silk. The neighbors tend to stare.
And while Hobbes was relishing the highlights of neon and softness in the sidewalk, I sat beside him stewing about all the work I had to do that evening and how I really just wanted to play video games and eat cookies. I imagined the carpet that needed to be vacuumed several days ago and the cat litter that I just scooped this morning that already needed to be scooped and the dusting, dishwashing, counter-cleaning and general exhaustion that was about to ensue. It burned like a fiery pit of filth in my stomach, right beside the once-gnawing gerbil.
That’s when Hobbes’ ecstasy binge led him to a soft pile of dirt and he began to roll in a frenzy, overtaken by the spirit of a chinchilla.
He rolled and rolled. I’d venture to say it was the happiest moment of his life to date. It may have even made up for the fact that his ancestors had been torn from the tundra and domesticated into prissy little eunuchs.
But I was not happy. My mind was chock full of filthy things needing to be cleaned and even if I did every single one of them, my E-crazed chinchilla was just going to deposit a sack of black dust all over my living room anyway. And since I had nothing inanimate near me on which to take out my sometimes compulsive cleaning habit, I instead grabbed the offender by the scruff of his neck and the tub of his tummy and carted him to the bathroom.
I think this is where I did the most harm. Hobbes loves the bathroom. He loves the sink and the tub and the perfectly Hobbes-sized carpet I apparently bought for him. He loves the shower curtain and the occasional drip from the tub’s faucet. He lives like a king in that sacred room. But he doesn’t like water. I know this because when, in my fury, I splattered the water all over his dirty behind, his eyes turned to saucers, his tail went stick straight, and he engaged every fiber of his being into actively escaping the porcelain death trap I had set for him.
But I’m a human. And humans trump cats. Hence the domesticated nutsack-stealing.
I rinsed about a half pound of black dust and dander down my tub before I started to worry I’d genuinely give him a heart attack so I turned off the water and convinced myself he was clean enough. I smothered him in a towel and then made a note to do a load of laundry because I had just used my last clean towel on my cat.
Freshly toweled cats are hilarious, angry little things. I highly recommend it on a rough day.
I followed up the traumatic session with a gentle brushing, which was actually in my favor more than his but he’s too stupid to know the difference between a proper petting and a wire brush. Another point for the humans. I then nursed the wounds he’d inflicted that, due to my nerdy cat allergies, had swollen to look like boils all over my skin. Point for the cats.
But I felt better. I had cleaned something. Not just that – I had cleaned something that fought back – and I had won. I mean, I tend to take out my stress on my dirty apartment from time to time, but that’s just a hurricane of cleaning that ends in my sweat and tears. This! This was fantastic. Five minutes of cat cleaning and I’m good to go. I can dust a little, vacuum a little, pick up a few cups and be done. The filthiest thing in my apartment had already been conquered and it was now so upset at the violation that it was cleaning itself. Perfection.
Therapeutic Cat-washing, folks: I highly recommend it. ♣