Remember how I said I’m allergic to cats, and brought Iggy home anyway? Well, in order to avoid being a pathetic, sneezing, sniffling, swollen-faced basketcase all the time due to handling his little feline self several times a day, I did something that made me a very mean Foster Mommy.
I bathed Iggy every day.
When he was a tiny thing, I’d fill a bowl with warm water and immerse him up to his neck for a few minutes, making sure to scrub out any dried-in formula that had accumulated in his fur. Once he was clean, I’d dry him off with a paper towel or cloth dish towel, though I found the paper towels tended to work better for this.
When he got too big for the bowl of warm water, I’d turn on the kitchen sink and hold Iggy under the flow while he struggled, shrieked and clawed at my hands. He had a knack for getting his claws just at the corners of my cuticles and pulling upward, so I had to keep moving him around in my grip because the pulling-at-cuticles part was a more disconcerting sensation than any other clawing I took from him.
And just in case that didn’t make me a nasty enough caretaker, you want to know what I did once a week? I’ll tell you what I did: I gave that poor kitten a shampoo.
He didn’t enjoy getting dried off, either, but leaving a soaking-wet kitten too young for solid food to air-dry in my shaded, chilly house in early Spring was a non-starter.
I managed to make him very angry at me several times a day, and kept coming back for more, because he had a similar reaction when I stimulated him to pee and poop (he pooped once every several days) between feedings. I’d rub his tummy with my thumb, and he’d make a racket and wave his little front legs around—unfortunately this is one of those tasks that required two hands, so I couldn’t take any pictures—until his bladder began to release. Once the stream began to flow, he stopped struggling, his little body went slack in my hand, and he just let out a little apathetic “meh” every few seconds until he was all emptied out.
At some point during this stage it became obvious that, Donika’s friend’s assessment notwithstanding, I was definitely caring for a male kitten.
(In case you’re wondering, the daily bathing seemed to get the job done where my allergies were concerned. I had a little bit of eye irritation which I managed by rubbing some Carmex into the corners of my eyes, but very little reaction beyond that. A few weeks into April I became intractably allergic to pretty much everything I breathed in, just like I’d been at the same time the previous year in a home with no felines, and just like I did at that time the following year, long after Iggy had left my care. Something got into atmosphere of central Albania in the early Spring that made me perfectly miserable for a couple weeks a year. The kitten didn’t bother me.)
The funny part of Iggy’s raging against the evil primate’s hygienic practices was that he never stayed angry once I was finished doing whatever it was. Once he was safely dry, he’d be ready to cuddle, knead and purr again. He was a very sweet, affectionate kitty when I wasn’t actively engaged in torturing him. He didn’t seem to get any more comfortable with bathing in the time that I had him, but oddly enough, my host mother later reported to me that Iggy liked being in water. Perhaps he was just a lot less unpleasant during his bath than any other cat she’d had.
He didn’t like water when he was my foster kitty, but he did like being stuffed into my pocket. This is the cool thing about cats; they appreciate the simple pleasures of life. Give him a warm, soft, enclosed space, and the kitty feels right at home.