Poor kitty. Yūki got his first bath today. It went something like this.
A few days ago, I noticed a clearly-litterbox-related smear on one of Yūki's hind feet and his tail. I figured I'd give him some time to clean in off himself… Today, as we're sitting on the couch, Yūki has his rear feet aimed right at me. I see the other foot is now dirty, and the first one hasn't been cleaned. I can also smell kitty poo. nugget commented, "Yūki needs a bath." At first I thought he'd just farted… but… well, he'd had a few days to clean off that foot himself and he never did.
If you can't clean yourself properly…
So I go upstairs and find the No More Tears shampoo. I come back to the downstairs bathroom and start drawing a bath for Yūki. Yūki generally isn't allowed in this bathroom, so he's very interested in the process (he likes to eat the toilet paper). Right as I get both the water temperature and the water level where I want it, Yūki steps up on the edge of the tub and sniffs at the water. I'm hopeful… Maybe this cat won't hate the water. He turns to walk away. *sigh* No such luck. I pick him up and carry him to the tub, and he's clearly apprehensive. I was considering trying to wash him from outside the tub (just him getting soaked)… and I quickly realised I didn't have a chance. So I gave in to his wishes and stepped into the tub myself. Oddly enough, even though Yūki was directly over the water, he didn't seem to mind this so much. I lowered both of us toward the water, and things were still ok. I moved him down, toward the water, away from me, and things weren't quite so ok anymore. Yūki started howling his protests. "Too bad, you're dirty," I thought as I lowered him in. He hissed his response.
As this was just a cleaning bath, and not a flea bath, I wasn't as careful as I sometimes am. I dunked Yūki, letting his face stay dry, and lifted him out. I squatted in the tub in a way that would keep my thighs above the water and allow them to be a flat platform. I let Yūki's body rest on my thighs as my hand held his front legs securely. One hand lathered up poor Yūki as the other restrained him. Through this process, I discovered Yūki was the most comfortable when he was pressed up against my body. He even wanted my head near his for comfort. Normally, when I'm bathing a cat, I'll keep my face far away, but Yūki found me a calming influence, and as long as our bodies were close, he tolerated the bath, with howls as his only protest. Occasionally I'd find a spot on Yūki that I failed to wet sufficiently, and I'd toss some water on him with my hand. He didn't seem to mind this so much (he was already wet, and the water was right around body temperature). I got him well lathered, and then came more super-torture. He was dunked into the water again. This was too much, and Yūki's head turned down to the hand that was holding his front legs. He bit. "I know, baby, I'm sorry," I said as I pulled his head away from my hand. His rear legs were unrestrained, but he didn't use them against me. He stopped his struggle and tolerated.
I decided this rinse didn't get enough of the shampoo off of him. I wanted to rinse him with fresh water, but I was worried turning on the tap would be the final straw. The extra noise of the running water would surely set him off, and that'd be that, right? I pull him tight against my chest and reach for the hot water. I gently turn on a slow stream… and Yūki doesn't react at all. I turn on the cold, and mix to get a good flow and proper temperature. I move his body under the water, but this means he's moved away from my body again. He didn't like this. I held him close for a bit, and then rinsed his other side.
He was done.
We wrapped him in a towel and brought him out of the bathroom. I rubbed him with the towel a bit and held him close as I sat down. I put him down, in the towel in my lap, and he… just stayed there. He started enthusiastically licking himself dry… sitting there, huddled in my lap.
I have never in my life had a cat stay with me after a bath. They always want to be alone to recover their dignity. But not Yūki. Soon after, I shifted. He got out of my lap, and I went upstairs and showered the cat-bath off of me. I came back down, and as I finish typing this post, Yūki has positioned himself firmly in my lap.
Yūki, you are a special cat and we love you.