The First Bath:
From the Diary of a 'Newbie' Cat Show Exhibitor

by Jodell Raymond

 

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Once upon a time I used to consider myself a rational, calm, cat lover. I have had cats all of my life and just love watching them and playing with them. Well, the rational and calm part ended the day I purchased my first show cat. I told my breeder, Jackie Herbort, "Oh, I am just interested in doing some light showing. I just want to have fun! The important thing is that he is happy, healthy, and purrs."

Well, I am having fun. I think he is happy. He purrs a lot! I have found out that your spouse or significant other plays a big part in your sanity and success, and - that there is no such thing as "light showing." I have gained a newfound respect for the people who, week in and week out, do the whole cat show thing and make it look way too easy. I have admired how breeders care about their cats, all the unsung heroes out there who do it anyway without any rewards, but because it is the right thing to do-all for a greater good. And, no matter what I have learned that having a show cat takes commitment, time, practice, and teamwork, and nothing is ever as easy as it looks. I have also vowed to never ask myself how hard something can be.

Prior to this undertaking, I told my husband Ed, how I aaaalways wanted a Himalayan. (I barely knew what a Himalayan was-I thought they were pretty and I just liked the sound of it-Himalayan-sounds exotic! Who knew that was a breed? I said an exotic what when I first saw that term?) I told Ed how much fun it would be because we could go to cat shows TOGETHER, travel, meet new friends, and see the country. That it would be just the three of us - Ed and I and Berlioz, our cat (French, from the movie, The Aristocats, pronounced Bear-lee-oh. Plus, Ed is French and I was looking for points-I admit it!) Berlioz, would be a prize winning, award winning, perfect specimen of a cat. I promised myself that I would groom and wash and fuss and primp so well that he would be the best cat ever in the history of CFA!

After all, how hard could it be?

I have learned a lot in a few short months, had a few laughs, cried a few tears, and admit that I am hooked. And, as for my husband, he is still married to me, so I guess that counts for something and has even made reservations for shows-brace yourself-out-of-state! And, Bear has fared well. No kitty therapist for him….

So far, I can tell you a few things of what not to do. Took me three hours and three stores to find this stuff called "Goop." Who knew it would be in Walmart in the car care aisle? I am thinking I have never been in a Walmart let alone a car care aisle and here I am getting something for the cat! Actually, I like Walmart - I spent two hours there looking around, came out with a ton of stuff for $40 and three cans of Goop!

I think Bear has more grooming things than I do. And, believe me, that is a feat in itself. I have R2D2, otherwise knows as F1R2-I can never remember the name. And, oh, great! I don't cook, so I don't do dishes, and now I get to use Dawn dishwashing liquid! Yea! What fun!

We have baby shampoo, people shampoo, animal shampoo, people conditioners, animal conditioners, a large brush, a small brush, lint remover, large and fine tooth combs, face combs (I saw one of the breeders use this cute little face comb so I bought one. I thought it would make people think I really knew what I was doing!), tweezers, grooming scissors, baby powder, Fuller's Earth, baby wipes, cotton balls, Q-tips, washcloths and that is only half of it…..

The first time I bathed the cat, my husband came home to find me sitting on the bathroom floor crying, the cat crying, and water everywhere. I bathed him in the kitchen sink. I still cannot explain all the water in the bathroom. "See, I can't do it. I am traumatizing him (I have been told, which I resent, that at times, I can be a bit dramatic. I just choose to think I am articulate and expressive! Perception! It is all about perception!).. I am bad at this. He HATES me…" Ed calmed us both down. He gave me beef and the cat chocolate. No, wait! He gave me chocolate and the cat beef, and suggested that I calm down and try again!

Ok. I have confidence. I am brave now. I am in charge. I can do this (I say to myself). After all, in my other life I AM A RESPECTED PROFESSIONAL WOMAN.

And after all, how hard could it be?

Back to work.

I get the cat aaaalll done, blown dried, take a good look at him, ready to admire my work and go, "Gee, he looks a little greasy (I was in denial-it was a lot greasy) in the ruff," I say to Ed. We are looking at him from all angles and circling him like we are a 747 ready to make a landing. Ed goes, "I think you left the Goop in." "But," (this is the too funny part) "don't worry, we are the only ones who are going to see him this week." I am shaking my head going, "I have to look at him. He is a Persian. He looks greasy. I cannot have a greasy Persian - it is a crime - it has to violate some rule of nature. I cannot leave him like this. I swear that cat was rolling his eyes at both of us.

After all, how hard could it be?

Back to the sink.

If you recall, I have always considered myself to be even-tempered, calm, and rational. I take Bear to his first show. He is five months old. I have read every PandEcats.com article about showing. (I did notice that there were no articles on "light showing.") I have tried to memorize every ribbon color. I memorized the articles on bathing and blow drying. I have memorized the Persian standard. I am prepared! I am an exhibitor of a SHOW CAT!

After all, how hard could it be?

I have gone two straight weeks without a bathing mishap. I bathed him twice a week so I could practice. Bear got to the point where he would see the sink, and let out this huge, long sigh!

Here are a few of the highlights and other fun things to remember me by…

I forgot towels and remembered them once he was soaking wet….

He leaped onto my head while he was wet.

I sprayed water in his eyes, causing him to sneeze repeatedly for ten minutes.

I was talking and waving my hands and forgot there was a spray hose in my hand. My walls are now cleaner than clean - I killed two birds with one stone!

I used conditioner and thought it was shampoo.

I had the blow dryer on high heat and could not figure out why he was fussing.

And last but not least... I forgot to use conditioner and could not for the life of me, figure out why he looked like "Don King Kitty."

Jodell and her Himalayan kitten, "Bear", share stories of their first forays into cat showing:

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