My Orange Tabby came to me mid-march, when the temperatures were way too cool for a kitty to be wondering outside in. She was homeless - a stray, wondering endlessly looking for a new home. She happened to be out when we'd had a bitter cold front, with temps dropping into the single digits. Meowing endlessly, she went door to door begging to be let in, when she finally came in front of my door. To her amazement, I actually opened up. She came running inside, investigated the whole apartment, and then looked at me for food. I, being a single guy, had no idea what kitties eat, let alone had any cat food to begin with. I gave her the next best thing: canned tuna with dill and olive oil. From the looks of it, she didnt care: she was famished. Now, visualize if you will, this is a full human-sized can of tuna. One can usually fill and satisfy most folks. She was so hungry, she not only ate one of them, she ate two! Plus she downed about a bottle of water to boot! I was so happy that I fed her, because from the looks of it, she was seriously underweight, with ribs easily showing through her fur. After the initial feeding, she was grateful for the meal, and started rubbing against me and purring. It didnt take long for her to want to go back out, which I complied. Not even 30 seconds spent outside in the freezing temperatures, and she ran right back indoors. Now I had me a kitty.
First thing was first: I had to bathe her to get the grime and dirt off of her coat. No way I was letting her sleep in my apartment or my bed for that matter, while she was dirty. Note: had I known the possible side effects to bathing cats, I would have never attempted this. I knew they didnt like water, and that she would most likely attempt to flee the bath, so I went in and completely forgot all the supplies I needed. I took her in the bathroom and shut the door behind me. First thing I did was try to calm her, which didnt really get me anywhere. She was anxious for being in a new location, and taking her with me into a smaller room seemed to aggravate that. For the moment though, she wasnt meowing, howling or angry, so I went for it. I turned the water on, attempted to set the temperature to something comfortable for me, and dunked her right in. Knowing now what I should have known then, dunking her was very silly of me for many reasons.
One, she could have freaked out and attacked me for doing that - thankfully, she did not. Two, she could have jumped out and made a complete mess of me and my bathroom - which this is exactly what she did. And Three, she could have caught a cold for having her fur whetted suddenly and without notice. Normally, it is recommended that if you wish to bathe your kitty, you need to prepare a small tub with some toys and slowly introduce him/her into it to try to "enjoy" the bath. Also, I used Head-And-Shoulders, since thats the only soap I had available. Apparently, theres some special kitty-safe bathing soap, I wasnt aware about. In any case, my soap did its job, because when I finally washed her off, the whole bottom of the bath tub was covered in soil/sand. Since I didnt have the forsight to get a towel for her, I had to use my bath towel to dry her off. Let me tell you, while bathing is one of the hardest things to do, drying off a wet cat is just as hard, if not harder. She doesnt want to sit still, shes soaking wet, plus by now you're probably soaking wet too, and all the while, shes getting cold. You have to work quickly, otherwise she will catch a cold, which involves taking her to a vet and getting some medication to help her out with that. Its a lengthy, painful process you dont want to undertake. So some speed in drying your kitty is required.
When I finally dried her off, her fur was matted down, and she began the long process of cleaning her own fur to fluff it back up. By this point, it was late into the night, and I was getting tired. I felt I owed her to care for her at least temporarily, so I brought her to my bed, and allowed her to bunk with me for the night. I was surprised just how accepting she was of the gesture. Just as I was starting to nod off, I noticed she had stopped licking herself and had dropped off as well. It made me smile, knowing I had not only rescued a kitty, but cared for her and helped her get clean as well.