Bathing Your Cat

Why bathe your cat?  Cats spend hours a day washing themselves.  In fact, most do manage to keep themselves clean without any additional help from us.  However, there are times when your cat may need a bath:

  • When covered with a substance you don’t want them to lick off and ingest, such as oil, pesticides, or cleaning powders and fluids.
  • When you need to bathe your cat with medicated shampoo to treat the skin for fleas or as prescribed by a vet.
  • When you are showing your cats – a thorough bath a few days before the show is usually desirable.

For these reasons, it might be better to get your cat acquainted with the bathing concept when still young.  Small kittens rarely take exception to slightly warm water if you approach the job with confidence and soothing talk.  Then when you have that emergency and need to bathe your cat, the procedure will be familiar, although some will not tolerate it at all.

However, if you must bathe your cat, it should be groomed first.  By grooming first, you will remove any unwanted hair and knots which will prevent the shampoo from getting through the coat.  If your cat is wearing a collar, don’t forget to remove it.  Bathing should not be done too often as this removes the natural oils from the skin.  If you use shampoos not suitable for cats, then you may damage the skin and coat.  The oils that are in the coat help in waterproofing and insulation.

If you are thinking to bathe your cat, perhaps you can use the kitchen sink or bathroom basin.  It’s a good idea to put a non-slip mat on the bottom to stop your cat from slipping and sliding, as well as protecting your sink or basin from being scratched.  The water for bathing your cat in should be about the same as the cat’s body temperature.  Make sure you wet the coat thoroughly before adding the shampoo.  When wetting the coat you can help to steady the cat by gently putting your hand under the chin.  Even then, they may not stand too well.  If that is the case, then gently hold onto the two front legs with one hand, while bathing with the other.  Remember to use only a special cat shampoo as they lather less and make it easier to rinse from the coat, especially if your cat doesn’t like standing in the water for too long.  Talk to the cat to reassure it, it helps to keep everyone calm.  Start shampooing at the top and work down.  Firstly along the back and neck area, then the tail and bottom, next the legs and feet.  Lastly wash the head area, most cat shampoos don’t cause much irritation if they get into the eyes, but do try to avoid doing this if possible.  Sometimes it is easier to leave the head until the cat is out of the water.  Use a facecloth and gently wash the face using clean, warm water and no shampoo.

Once you are sure that you have shampooed the cat all over, then rinse it top to bottom.  Repeat the rinsing process until you are sure that all the shampoo has been washed off, using your hands to gently squeeze the coat to get rid of the excess water.  The next step is to dry the cat.  Some cats will tolerate a hairdryer, but only if they have been accustomed to it from a very early age.  Others will need to be towel dried.  If using a hairdryer, remember to set it at a low temperature and move it around.  Don’t concentrate on one place for too long at a time.  After drying, one last groom will finish off the whole process of grooming and bathing your cat.  If you are towel drying it, then please keep your cat in a warm place until it is completely dry.  Once completely dry, comb through the coat again.  This will remove any hairs that were missed before bathing.

Bathing can be quite traumatic for all concerned and may need more than one pair of hands as well as a lot of patience.  If you groom your cat regularly, and it has a healthy balanced diet, there should be no need for bathing as the coat will be glossy and healthy.

Kibbeh in Tomato Sauce

We have to make 3 versions in our home.

1 for the man of the house with turnips and sharia (small pasta noodles)

1 for the son of the house skipping the turnips and adding potato chunks

1 for the wife of the house with turnips but no sharia!

Places to buy frozen kibbeh:

In the USA Tasty N Healthy in Philadelphia sell frozen kibbeh

In London Archie’s Foods in London N.W.10 sell the ones used in these recipes

Another supplier in London N.W.10 is Al Enam

A more central shop in London is Green Valley 36-37 Upper Berkeley Street, Marble Arch, London

W1H 5QF.

So for the basic version


3 large kibbeh per person

A large jar of tomato purée

A teaspoon of salt

A few grindings of black pepper

A 400g tin of tomatoes blended if possible

3 turnips per person, or potatoes, peeled and sliced into rings

Sharia if desired

Flat leaf parsley to serve


Olive oil

Lemon juice


In a large pan, fry the tomato purée in a little olive oil then add the tinned tomatoes and a litre of water.  Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Add the turnips or potatoes (even both) and simmer for 10 minutes. Then lower the frozen coubah into the liquid using a slotted spoon.  Simmer for a further 15 minutes.  Add the chopped parsley and serve in large soup bowls with crispy bread.

Trinidad – The Journey Home

In November dad’s contract was cut short and he decided to cruise home to England rather than take the plane.

A few days later we found ourselves on board the Shaw Savill Line, s.s. Athenic bound for the UK.  The weather on departing from the port was, of course, tropical but a few days later the weather in the Atlantic was wintry so we didn’t stay above deck for long periods of time.

The journey sticks in mind as on 22nd November we heard over the tannoy that President John F Kennedy had been assassinated.  It came as a shock and we felt a bit out of touch with the outside world.

Mum was seasick for two days and my sister tripped on a large deck step, needing medical attention as well.  We had cabin service but mum was given anti sickness pills, so we were soon able to enjoy the wonderful food on offer.  Meanwhile I had friends on board from the Texaco club swimming days so I had sophisticated teenagers to spend time with.  They had previously lived in India so were quite worldly for their age.

One afternoon mum and I sat on the deck overlooking the sailor’s quarters. It was a laugh a minute as they entertained us with their off duty antics, telling lewd jokes and dousing each other with buckets of water. It was all very Frankie Howard style.

The highlight of the cruise for me was the Captain’s Dinner except for the ballroom dancing, when I kept treading on the Chief Officer’s toes.  I blame him as he introduced me to champagne!  The food was excellent and plentiful.  I experienced my first cream tea on the ship and managed to avoid any seasickness.

When we docked in London in midwinter it was a bit of a shock and at Liverpool Street, we all bought winter coats before getting on the train to Essex.  Mum got a faux ocelot and looked really glamorous with her long auburn hair.

We stayed in Essex for a little while with dad’s relatives and first treat on the list was fish and chips next to the Elm Hotel in Leigh-on-Sea.  We then headed back north to our home in Staffordshire.  I returned to my school in Polesworth until dad was offered a job on a desalination plant in Kuwait, but that’s another story.

Minced Lamb, Tomatoes, Chickpeas and Aubergine Medley


1 white onion, diced

500g of minced lamb

1 tin of chickpeas

4 large aubergines sliced into rings

4 large tomatoes sliced

A tin of chopped tomatoes

A large dollop of tomato purée

4 garlic cloves peeled and pushed through a garlic press

500 ml of stock, vegetable, lamb or chicken

Salt and pepper

Olive oil to fry


Fry the aubergines in 3 batches adding more oil as needed.  When softened, drain with a slotted spoon  and leave on a plate covered in 2 pieces of kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil.

In a clean frying pan, add some more olive oil with the onions and fry until translucent.  Add the garlic, tomato purée and minced lamb, stirring and frying for 5 minutes.  Pour in 500ml of stock and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat to a simmer and stir in the chick peas and tinned tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper, then simmer for 30 minutes until cooked.

Add the fresh sliced tomatoes and cover with a glass lid.  Continue to simmer for 10 minutes until the tomatoes cook.

Serve with white rice and a mixed chopped salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.



It can be hard in these busy times, to find a few minutes to relax, but playing with your kitten or cat will benefit both of you.  Here are a few ideas to give your cat some entertainment.
Cats are very playful anyway and will often initiate a “chase me” game when you are sitting down in the evening feeling totally relaxed and planning to go to bed.  This can be when a cat will decide to run round in circles and if you chase her, they will hide behind the cupboards or curtains, or into the wardrobe if the door is ajar.  It’s an invitation to play “hide and seek”.
Cats don’t normally fetch objects like dogs do.  However, some will return light things thrown for them.  We used to have a kitten Dusty who loved to play a game on Sunday mornings when we’d have a lie in with coffee and pro-biotic drink in bed.  As soon as she heard the rustle of the silver lid coming off the drink, she’d leap on the bed full of excitement.  We would throw it on the tiled floor and she’d leap at it, skidding all over the place, then put it in her mouth and return it to us for a repeat performance.  For safety’s sake it might be better to use a larger ball of tin foil, rolled up tight so she cannot swallow it.
Some will play with fake mice, especially furry ones on a string.  It’s her chance to pretend she is a ferocious hunter, stalking prey.
Toys need not be expensive.  A ball of wool or a piece of string (it is best to keep an eye on the cat, so she cannot strangle herself), or ping pong balls can keep her amused.  An old sock filled with catnip and tied at the end.  They also like to play hide and seek in a large, strong cardboard box.  Put in some newspapers as they love to screw them up and hear the sound of the paper.  Cut some holes in the sides, so she can peek out.
If you can afford one, there are many scratch tree posts with one or more houses on top to hide in.

Activities for the Over Sixties


Gone are the days when people over 60 sat in a rocking chair and relaxed all day.  I’m a member of a local charity offering all types of classes, amongst which are

Arts and crafts, drama, jewellery making, music lessons, pottery, needlework groups, singing for all, English literature, book club, history of art, current affairs, genealogy group, reminiscence, Hollywood histories, philosophy, cooking and healthy eating, steady and stable, healthy lungs, beginners computing, social networking, online shopping, Skype workshops, iPads,  belly dancing, badminton, ballroom and Latin dance, chair exercise, chi gong, cycling safety, t’ai chi, gardening, table tennis, Pilates and water splash.  There is also acupressure, shiatsu, massage, beauty therapy, osteopathy, reiki, reflexology and aromatherapy.

Languages to learn are French, Spanish, Russian and lip reading.

Also on offer are coffee mornings, discussion groups, quizzes, lunch clubs, movie night, scrabble and bridge.

Who could be bored or lonely I ask?  There’s a supportive programme of activities for unpaid carers.

Princess Diana and The Duchess of York

19 years ago last week, Princess Diana died in that car accident in Paris.  The world was in shock for a week and probably longer.

Back in 1997 I wrote to Sarah Ferguson to express my sorrow at the loss of Diana and she kindly sent me this letter and prayer:

I have included some postage stamps purchased at the time.

I took my son, aged 10 to Kensington Palace where he threw a teddy and flowers onto the enormous pile, by then knee deep.   I do have many photos of that day but unfortunately they are in storage.

I have included some postage stamps purchased at the time.