... In which CitySlickerCat becomes OilSlickerCat.
As much as I find the country a bit of a culture shock, it must be ten times worse for Igor. As well as the normal adjustments of moving and claiming new turf, he now also has to contend with Big Scary Bugs, L's cat Petro (who is very much a Nermal to Igor's Garfield), and an intermittent supply of his favourite food.
Those who know (of) him will probably remember that his two outstanding features are his overwhelming cuteness* and his total terror when faced with The Unknown. I mean, this is the cat who runs at the slightest scuttle of a beetle; who once spent three hours carefully stalking a dead ladybird; who has the unfortunate tendency to piss himself when confronted with something as terrifying as OhGodAnotherCat!
*Bias? What bias?
Anyway, he has been ever-so-cautiously exploring his new environs, but tends to stay as close to the front door as possible, apparently in the vague hope I will come home in the middle of the day to feed him fresh salmon (hey, a cat can dream...). He has always been in close enough range to hear the sound of a can opening, until one day when I was late coming home. This time, he was already in the house, hiding in my room- and totally covered in motor oil.
He looked like he'd fallen into a barrel of it, as he was covered head to tail. I figured it probably wasn't the best thing to have all over him, so I started the ring around to find a vet. After about five or six phone calls, I eventually found one which was open- a mere four hours drive away, too!
"What should I use to wash oil off my cat?"
"Oil? Can't he just clean it off himself? How much oil is it?"
"Well, I think it's motor oil. He's literally dripping it, he's leaving a trail of oil spots wherever he goes."
"Oh. [pause]. Can you bring her in?"
(Why do vets always refer to cats as her? Even after I repeatedly refer to him as 'him', and on one occasion pointedly TOLD the vet he is a boy, they still do it. I wouldn't go to a doctor who called me sir!)
I explained to the vet how far away we were, and he said motor oil is very toxic, I would just have to wash it off myself and just hope that he didn't have liver failure.
"But what do I use to get the oil out?"
"Uh... you know, this doesn't really happen a lot. I'll go and ask my colleague."
"Hello, are you still there? Apparently you should use washing up liquid. It's what they use on penguins who get covered in oil spills."
At this point I was wondering whether he'd actually consulted a 'colleague' or whether he'd gone off to watch some more Animal Planet. But I figured it was at least going to be less toxic than the oil, and so I prepared to
battle bathe poor Igor.
Filled bath about akle-deep with lukewarm water.
Put cat in bath.
Put washing up liquid on cat's back.
Put cat back in bath.
Starting lathering cat's back.
Put cat back in bath.
Removed cat's claws from where they were embedded in the lino.
Sat with cat to calm him down.
Put now-calm cat in bath.
Climbed in bath to hold cat more securely.
Attempt to grab onto absconding cat, who is now both oily, soapy and slippery.
Landed on my ass in lukewarm, gritty, soapy, oily water.
Watched cat attempt to scratch bathroom door down.
I may be a bit of a slow learner, but eventually I worked out that I was simply not going to be able to keep Igor in the bath long enough to remove all the oil, and then rinse him as well. My housemate wasn't going to be home until the next day, and I don't really know many people well enough to call them and ask them to help me bathe my insane cat. [Friends will play with your cat; REAL friends will help you bathe said cat.]
So of course there was only one option left. I picked up Igor and calmed him down again, and then we went into the shower. I know cats are famed for being able to climb up nearly any surface, but the tile and glass surfaces were more than a match for his kitty superpowers. I can only assume my neighbours were all out, because if I heard noises like that coming from next door, I'd be calling the police.
Twenty minutes later, we were both severely traumatised, wrapped in towels on my bed. There were still faint traces of oil in his fur, but it was the best I could do. For the next few days, Igor would glare at me every time I picked up a towel, and showed absolutely no interest in going outside. But there are no signs of liver failure as yet and I'm sure one day he will forgive me. In the mean time, I've learned that the only this worse than cat-breath is cat-breath from a cat who smells like a mechanic.