Monday, November 27, 2017

The Day my Father Tried to Blow-dry the Cat

I grew up being owned by two Siamese cats. They were mother and son, and the mother cat, Kiki, was really my cat, whereas her son owned the whole family.  Both cats have long since passed away, but I still have so many fond memories of them.  Like the day my father tried to blow-dry Kiki.

My family lived in a bushy area of Sydney, and one problem with that is that when the cats and dogs go out exploring they are very likely to get fleas. This is not any more pleasant for the animals than for the humans they inevitably pass the fleas onto, so it has always been necessary to try and prevent them from getting fleas, or to get rid of the little critters if your cats (or dogs) do end up with them. In the 1970s the first main option was to put a flea-collar on your cat. These strong smelling accessories were never terribly successful in tackling the flea problem.  Even when they were "fresh" they only seemed to reduce the number of fleas, not eliminate them completely, and as the toxins wore off, the flea numbers increased. 

My father discovered that far more successful was giving them a periodic bath with some anti-flea preparation.  As you can imagine, the cats did not like this, and considered it way below the dignity of a cat.  But the cats knew us, and knew we looked after them and wouldn't hurt them, so they accepted that the bath must be necessary. But each bath was accompanied by a constant low growl to protest the ignominy of the situation.

One winter's day Kiki's bath didn't take place until early in the evening.  My father was worried that a wet Kiki would be cold, or even catch a cold, if all he did was towel dry her after her bath.  The only thing they had that could be used was that old hair-dryer belonging to my mother.  You know the kind: a kind of shower-cap like covering that used to go over the hair rollers, connected to a source of warm air by a hose.  Dad just used the hose bit to blow dry Kiki.  She had no idea what was going on, and not only was there the constant growl, but also the tail flicking back and forwards that indicates a cat is not happy.  Then Dad decided that the easiest way to get her tail dry would be to put it down the hose. That was too much! A cat has to maintain her dignity at all times, and this was definitely undignified. With a yowl she jumped off his lap, raced to the other end of the house and hid under a bed.

He never tried to blow-dry her again.

Kiki on the day we got her