"How do you normally go about it? I thought cats didn't like water."
The woman looked up, eyes questioning for a moment, then her gaze followed mine to the animal on the floor at our feet.
"I normally just take him in the shower with me. He's generally okay with that."
"Oh right, okay. Want me to have a shot though?"
"Sure, just please don't hurt either of yourselves. I'll get you a towel and the shampoo." She turned and disappeared around the corner, reappearing with the promised items a few moments later.
I slipped my hands around the kitten and placed him on the side of the kitchen sink. He walked over to me and rubbed against my arm. Plug in. I drooled wool wash in the corner, then turned on the tap to a drizzle. Leonard immediately stepped up to drink directly from the spout. Gently, I slid him into the sink. At first he protested. The water was cut off, and I tried again. A terror-stricken pair of eyes burned into mine.
"I'm sorry mate, we need to get you clean." I released my gentle grip on the scruff of his neck. Leonard scrambled immediately out of the sink. There was barely enough water in it to wet the bottoms of his paws. Okay, this isn't working.
"Elaine?" She wandered back into the kitchen, mop in hand. "Can I use the laundry tub? I don't want to traumatise him any more than necessary."
"Yeah, sure, that's fine. You'll just need to disconnect the hoses first. I'd better stay out of sight so he doesn't run to me for safety."
I nodded. "Come on Leonard, we'll try this instead, you won't feel like being shoved down a drain so much." I stretched out my arm and the animal climbed onto my shoulder. I walked to the laundry and deposited him on top of the washing machine. I unscrewed the hoses and shoved the plug in the drain. "Right." Warm water bounced into the stainless steel recess till it was just deep enough to cover the entire bottom. "In you get." I tapped my hand on the bottom of the basin, motioning for Leonard to enter. Cautiously he descended into it. "That's better, isn't it?" I could feel his heart beating ridiculously fast, but while I stroked him he was staying put. "Hey, it's okay." My voice was calm and reassuring, but not demeaning. I poured a small amount of the shampoo into the water behind Leonard where he wouldn't see it in case he panicked. I decided to wait a few minutes to get him accustomed to the water. "You right now?" His pulse was beginning to slow down, so I began massaging handfuls of water into his fur. He either didn't notice, or didn't mind, I didn't really mind either way.
"That wasn't so bad now, was it?" I peered down at the towel-wrapped bundle of fur in my arms, unwrapping it as I did so. I handed him back to Elaine, and he bounded immediately up her chest and onto her shoulder.
"I should just ask you whenever my cat needs washing. I think I'm too humane and worried about hurting him."
"Heh, actually that was amazing. I'm not sure why I did that, I wouldn't normally even go near a cat I didn't know well."