Step 9: How to wash a cat soaked in transmission fluid.

In yet another of Homer's adventures that I remember much better than he does, he managed to get completely coated in transmission fluid. I was in the process of changing the filter in the transmission of my old pickup. To do this you need to drain out all the fluid and remove the bottom pan. I had drained all the fluid out and had it in a metal tub. I needed to take a snack break and this was a good place to stop. But since I had a kitten step into a pan of  oil while I was changing it, (both front legs)  I thought  I should take the precaution and lock up the tub of fluid just in case. So I placed it in the truck cab on the floor and rolled up the windows. Safe, or so I thought.
  When I came back out to continue work I found Homer clinging to the door, smearing up the glass, and he was completely coated with red transmission fluid, except for his head. He apparently had been behind the seat when I closed up the truck. Somehow he had managed to get into the fluid and then spread it over the entire interior. Seats, doors, dash, even on the roof. It was everywhere and he was crying for help.
This was a real dilemma. If I opened the door and let him out he might bolt and I did not want to have to chase him down. If I grabbed him I would then also be covered in fluid and I would have a dripping cat to try and contain and I did not want him running around the house acting like a paintbrush. So I had to prepare for this rescue before I opened the door.
  One good thing about this problem was that oil and things like transmission fluid are by themselves not poisonous in small amounts, so he wasn't in danger from that. Motor oil and other fluids do have additives in them that are not good for you, but the oil itself will not poison you or animals. When you hear about animals and birds dying from oil spills its from the side effects like birds that get their feathers ruined rather than direct poisoning. Eating oil is not good for you but it will not kill you unless its in large amounts. For a cat the problem is they will get dirt stuck to their fur and it will mat it down. Then  they will lick it to try and get it off and eating to much of it along with the dirt could make them pretty sick.

Homer was going to need a bath, period.

I went back in the house and got everything ready that I needed in the bathroom including a bunch of old towels. Then I got an armful of rags and went to free him.
I opened the door and he didn't try to run so that was good. I used my hand like a squeegee and tried to scrape off as much transmission fluid as I could. Then I used the rags to try and soak up more. He already had a lot of grit in his fur, I could feel it as I wiped him off. Once he was not dripping anymore I carried him inside to the bathtub and locked us in.
When it comes to bathing cats, its usually not the water so much that they don't like as much as it is the temperature of the water. In physics there is this principle called the square cube law. What it is about is that the rate something looses heat depends on the surface area and the volume. Volume increases by the cube while surface area increases by the square. A large animal like a horse looses heat very slowly because it has a large volume compared to its surface. An animal like a cat has a very small volume compared to its surface area, so it looses heat really fast. Cold water will cause them to immediately begin shivering. So any water you use for a shower or bath needs to be as close to their temperature as possible. That is close to 100 degree F. Use a thermometer if you have to, but get your water temp right. Too cold and they will try and get out immediately and you will have a fight. Too hot and they will cry out because its very uncomfortable for them. If its just right they will almost always (All of mine have) let you run the water on them. They will be a little nervous about it at first but if you stay calm they should not fight you. To wash out oil you need detergent. Dish-washing detergent works really good for this. Get some to keep on hand just in case you have this or a similar problem. Get a hypoallergenic unscented type. The one I used is Dawn. You can use baby shampoo but its not really strong enough for oil soaked animals and you will have to wash them many times for it to work.
Wet the cat down but not his head and get him used to the water. He may be startled at first but hold on firmly and keep talking gently to him. When they are completely wet  put a line of detergent down their back and start massaging it in. Homer apparently thought he was at a spa and started purring. By the way it helps to always keep a hand on them. If you take your hand off they usually think your done and will jump out and run around spreading water and soap everwhere. You don't want to clean that mess up too. Work the detergent in until it stops being slippery. It will combine with the oil and make a gooey looking stuff. This is when you need to rinse and repeat. Keep using your hands to wipe the water and soap and oil mix off. I leave the water running and use a hand shower so I can get it close to them with out getting water everywhere. It took six wash and rinse repeats for Homer until the foam was no longer pink. If their head is dirty also you can wash it but be careful where you get the soap. Also but don't spray them in the face to rinse. Instead let the water fall on them the way rain would. That way they don't get water in their ears and up their nose.
After you think they are clean, wash them one more time. Get their legs and paws and especially their tail. A lot soaks into their tail.
Again use your hand to wipe the water off. Then use OLD towels to dry them. Even after many washings the towels I used to dry him with turned pink. Remember, you will not be able to get everything out so the goal is to just get them as clean as you can without getting them really stressed.
Another thought-- Its a lot easier to give a kitten a bath rather than a full sized cat. If you give your kitten a few baths to get them used to it they will be a lot better about it when they are big. Then again sometimes it just teaches them to really hate it so when you try to do it they are already in fight mode. I don't think there is a best answer to this.
If you can blow dry them its the best approach. Some cats hate blow dryers others don't mind them at all. Make sure not to let the dryer get to hot and use a medium speed so its not to loud. Keep the air moving and don't let the dryer stay on one spot for to long. It takes a lot longer to dry a cat than it does your own hair. Dry their back and sides and, if you can, their tummy. Those are the important parts. No matter how dry or wet they are at this point they will now spend hours licking themselves. Give them a warm place and let them work on it. And remember that they still might have enough oil left on them to stain furniture and rugs. Its hours of work and an ordeal but they will come through it just fine.
Its just another day and another adventure.
By the way, I have no pictures of this process because I didn't have a hand to spare. And you will get oily and wet, so you are probably the next one in the shower. It's amazing what trouble one little animal can create and the pickup still has spots of fluid around in it.
<p>Thank you so much for posting such a beautiful story. Made me cry, I felt so bad! It's so nice to know there are people like yourself out there. Being a person that bought an acreage that had 6 or so strays/outdoor cats that hung out here, I felt I had to help these poor cats by providing them a shelter from the harsh winters and the predators, (built an entryway/door to our heated garage), food, water, and a safe warm and cozy place to sleep at night :) In the end, all of these cats have shown their appreciation tenfold, as they're no longer feral and love affection from us :)</p>
<p>This was such a bittersweet story! I loved it!! I had 5 kittens that used to go off and to call them in I would holler &quot;Babiieess&quot; and shake dry food in a plastic cup. One day none of them came home and I walked around our &quot;neighborhood&quot; ( miles and miles of gravel roads) shaking food and screeching &quot;babies&quot;. Like you, we only recovered 2, Lil bit and xy (pronounced Zy) They were unharmed but ever since I have wondered why in the world they didn't stay with scarlet, aka: Mom has baffled me ever since. Reading your story though has made it a little more clear. Scarlet had also been getting a little more aggressive with them to get them to leave her alone. I didn't think she was trying to lure them out then abandon them though...but she too ended up having another litter not too long after that. In the back of my mind I like to think that scruffy, bonkers, and ringo were all thought to be super cute and someone took them in :) I dont know if you still keep up with this but I would LOVE to hear an update on you and your cat family!! See there...now you have me all invested ;)</p>
<p>I put up a new<a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-get-wood-and-make-lumber-for-projects-and-w/#step0" rel="nofollow"> instructable </a>this month that has some current pictures of Homer. He is on the first and second step. I didn't plan on him being in the pictures but he was very interested in what I was doing so he ended up on the front page. Homer has become the &quot;alpha&quot; cat. He keeps everybody in line. He is about 15 pounds now and its mostly muscle so he is one tough kitty. But one of his favorite things to do when he is inside is to lay in my lap and &quot;clean&quot; my hands. He takes good care of me. If you view the last video on the 5th step of that instructable one of the others (MiniBlue) is in it a number of times. As soon as I started talking they came to find out what was going on. </p><p>I have always been concerned about loosing some of them on the road since it is a real hazard for them. In fact there have been 3 strays that I know of that have been run over this last year. But mine don't even go out on the road. I discovered that they have been going through a culvert under the road to get to the field on the other side. I have watched them disappear on this side and reappear on the other side and then run off into the field. I have no idea how they figured that out but its what they all do. </p><p>I have only lost one of them, one from the last batch of kittens, and I believe that was to a predator as no sign of her ever turned up. They have each manifested their own personalities, Two are homebodies (Jet and Arrow) and don't really like being outside that much. One is a real explorer and often disappears for days at a time. The others prefer being outside but come in whenever the weather is bad and often at night. Homer and Snoopy (the only 2 boys) have a rivalry going on. I have to keep them separated as much as possible as Homer keeps trying to put Snoopy in his place. But other than that they are all pretty peaceful and happy. I have not seen a mouse in years, so they are doing a good job of keeping vermin away. They did kill a few garter snakes this last year which I wish they would leave alone but I suppose they were fun to play with. One nice thing is they have not had an impact on the birds. Its pretty rare that they get those so I still have lots of birds nesting in the trees. So, all in all we are a happy family. </p>
<p>I know that it has been a while, but thank you so much for answering me. I plan to go check out your other instructables. :)</p>
<p>Homer's story is very touching, and I'm very happy that he made it throught... but... This is a How to NOT take care of your cat! If you had taken proper care he didn't have to go throught all these, and neither his brothers, mother and father would disapeared or died! How about reading about responsible ownership of pets?</p>
<p>Thanks for taking the time and thought to comment. It looks like you joined Instructables just so you could post a comment. Welcome. </p><p>On average they estimate a feral cat will live less than 3 years. Life in the wild is pretty rough on them. Just this winter there have been 4 roaming toms that have been run over on the highway here. One of them was really friendly, it was sad to see him splattered on the road. I have no control of that. If anything the fault lies with the people who just dump the unwanted animals with no care about what might happen to them. Homers mom and dad were feral, wild. I gave them as much care as they would tolerate. They were not inside animals and could not be treated as such. Most feral animals that get picked up by animal control officers end up being put to sleep because they cannot adapt to being pets. Even horses adopted from the wild can be a problem and require special care to get them used to being around people. </p><p>I did not expect Homer' s mom to run off with her kittens and abandon them. I did not know she would do that and I had no control of her doing that.</p><p>Now, more than 4 years down the road I still have all but one (who disappeared without a trace) plus an extra that was dumped as a little kitten only a few weeks old that I found in the middle of the road. There is a tom cat that has been hanging around on a regular basis who has a standing appointment at the next spay and neuter clinic if he is still around on that day. I feed all of them inside so they check in usually at least once a day. Some like being outside and with acres of ground and are at their happiest outside. A couple (Jet and Arrow) like to be inside and almost never go out. Its their choice. They are well fed and happy each doing what it likes best in a relatively safe place. </p>
You've got my vote for sure! This is an amazing an touching instructable. There is a stray black cat (used to be shy) and he wouldn't get near me and my siblings( we LOVE animals) eventually he came closer and closer (this was in the fall) and we gave him food, and when we had a bonfire, he would curl beneath it to keep warm. He started to get from a spunky kitten to an old week guy, and he got (most likely) attacked by something, but like Romeo, couldn't get rid of it, and it are him. I miss him..:( that was a while ago. Then again I think if he is still living and where he has gotten to. Your story was phenomenal to read and was very bittersweet. Thnk you for filling my mind, and bring back memories of Demon.
did catnip die?
wow that is sad
<p>Oh man *sniffle* What a bittersweet tale. They're lucky to have you around to take care of them. Fantastic read.</p>
That touched my heart!;)
what happened to the other kitten
Woooow, Nice story! I am totally in love with your kitty family now ;) You're a really nice person to adopt all those cats and giving them such a good life. God bless
Agreed :) Epic story
I love that homer is an amazing cat I love animals
What a wonderful story, it's 4:19 am and I couldn't stop reading... I have 5 cats myself, all rescues :-) but in a New York apartment... <br>Getting the brother and sister fixed IMMEDIATELY!!!!! <br>You are a very special person ;-) <br>Cheers and carry on from New York! <br>
Great tail..... Having had to wash a cat off that was covered in shower gel at a party i totally get the warm water thing. I swear the cat lifted its paw up to show me i had missed a bit! It didn't struggle at all. Cat was not impressed at losing its smell. In fact it was so peeved it stole into someones car and ended up 150 miles away........ <br> <br>It is worth remembering that if you do have to bath a cat it will lose all the oils in its coat and until they are replaced it is a lot more vulnerable to bad weather.
Wow. I LOVE cats. We have 5 total. You are a very nice person for taking the kittens in. If you have any more cat instructables, plz list them!
You might like the pictures in<a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Taking-E-bay-photos-that-get-attention/" rel="nofollow"> this one</a>.
Awwwww I love animals ur a good person. I am never going to get a job as an exterminator. I'm a cat person and I hate exterminators. They are destroying the gift of nature. They set poison traps everywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Awww thats soo cute and sad but i did love it gid bless you and have a giid day !! :)
Cat people are good people and you are a very good person! This was a great instructable and bless you for it.
One of the best people ever. And I barely know you. Just that you are an animal lover, and that you've helped numerous cats. That's good enough for me
aaaawwwwww my smily face didnt work
there all so cute &lt; <br> ) <br> &lt;
Did you ever find the mom? <br> <br> <br>I LOVED THIS STORY!!! <br>I cried a little... ^.^
At the bottom of &quot;step 12&quot; in the last paragraph it tells what happened to Juliet, the mom. The one who disappeared and I never saw again was Romeo, the dad. He was getting pretty old and worn from living on the wild side. He used to visit often and then just didn't show up anymore. He might have died from old age but more likely something like a coyote caught him and he wasn't strong enough anymore to fight it off.
Did You Ever Find the mother?
I can vouch for what you say about vets being realistic. Two Christmases ago, my vet put my dog on medication for seizures. Within three weeks, my dog's pancreas was shutting down. On the day I finally realized he needed professional help, my vet's office was closing for the afternoon, so they recommended me to another vet in town. A vet with a reputation for being expensive. With my dog fading and the day passing, I took him there. The vet we saw was obviously very compassionate and she was totally up front about how much it could cost to try and save my dog's life. She also offered to put him down, if that was my only affordable option. My daughter was with me and made a plea that whatever we did, the dog should not be allowed to suffer a minute longer than necessary. Then the vet asked me what my budget WOULD allow. I gave her a figure I could live with and she said, &quot;OK. I'm going to take him back and give him a drip and see if we can stabilize him. You two go grab a cup of coffee down the street and come back in 45 minutes. By then I will have some course of treatment worked out that will fit your budget.&quot; When we came back, the vet asked me how I felt about needles. I said I had no qualms giving a stick if I had to. She had worked out a treatment plan that let me take my dog home and administer IVs to him there, thus saving the facility costs involved in treating him in-house and coming in just under my budget. Then she called every day to check on him until his treatment was finished! It restored a lot of my faith in vets, I tell you.
Wow. That's remarkable. Encouraging, too.
After seeing many of your comments, I've come to think of you as the human version of Optimus Prime. Even though I am a Decepticon, I have to say, good work.
Lovely story.. I needed that for strength as I am homeless in 2 weeks and about to be living in a tent.. :) <br>I will find my way home.. when I have one that is...
I am a little surprised that no one commented about your comment or your predicament . Usually it's the type of thing that starts a conversation going. I thought about starting a a topic in the forums to address it but I don't want to start a political debate. The simple fact is that things are pretty bad in a lot of places right now. I think its worse than what most people realize. So, if you are one of the many who's life has been made very difficult by the current circumstances you have my sympathy. I think it has been caused in part by the fading away of what used to be communities. People used to care about each other on a community level but true communities are disappearing, being replaced with housing developments that are built with the main intention of making money rather than creating a place for people to live. <br>Anyway, you have my sympathies and I hope things work out for you for the best.
Very true. Now a days, it doesn't really matter to some people if their neighbor is suffering or not.... <br> <br>Maybe we could make a forum or website where we are all neighbors and care about each other.
I too hope that things have worked out and that you are well. I agree with Vyger that living in a community/family setting, in these distressing times, is best. I have been encouraging my family to move to a property in the countryside, houses close together - commune-like, for many years. They are at least listening to me now. My heart goes out to you dwilkinson1.
Lovely story! My hubby and I currently have two fabulous cats ... at one time, we also had a feral. He was a doll. Alas, we did have to put him down ... all his years of fighting it on the outside just took their toll on him. Ferals don't tend to live as long, due to disease, fighting, the outside elements, etc. Our feral, called &quot;Him&quot;, finally succumbed to FLV. It was tragic to watch him deteriorate. In the end, we did the merciful thing.<br>Thanks for the fun narrative, Vyger ... I enjoyed it!
Thank you for your narrative and photos. You are a very nice man. &quot;A man who knows the love of a cat is a rich man indeed.&quot; I have had the pleasure of caring for over 40 cats and kittens thus far. My husband became entranced by them only 10 years ago, when we married, and the above quote is his. Again. Thank you.
passed it along to my mom as well as to the facebook page for the shelter I volunteer at.
Beautiful, bittersweet story. I am at work and trying not to tear up - this really made me miss our big, old, goofy, nip-head tabby, Bertie.
That was a truely beautiful story. I even shed a few tears. Your next instructable should be how to write a children's book from a cat's perspective. I'd buy a copy!
Very beautiful cats! <br><br>And a nice (although a bit sad) history. I will vote you.
Great story and adorable kitties, you got my vote!
This is a tail of two kitties .... sorry couldn't resist :-)<br>Beautiful story and beautiful cats, thank you so much for sharing, you have a real talent and I really enjoyed this.<br>5*, more if I could.<br><br>Cheers,<br>R
Good story, thanks for sharing!<br><br>Once my friends dog got covered in crude oil. First vet washed him then we washed him at least four rounds with dish detergent. He got much cleaner but not clean. But another wash or two few days later with dog shampoo did the trick. So if someone reading this should ever have similar situation - repeat the washing after some time if the first isn't too successful.
A dog type am I, still read your cat tale twice !<br>Great adventure, gave you 5.
Aww. At first I was a bit worried by the picture in the Living section. A picture of a mauled cat was like &quot;Oh jeez what kind of Instructable is this?!&quot;<br>But once I started reading I got really into the story. My cat Smudge is a bit of a terror and we are sure he might have been half feral (Or maybe he is a pest). <br>I'll read this to him when I get home and he will probably love Homer's story!
Thanks for sharing this Instructable! I really enjoyed your story! So happy he found a good home! Amazing story!
Aaaawww .. ^_^*

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Bio: The name comes from the First Star Trek movie, that pretty much says it all.
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