Today's animal topic is: Cat Care.

Over the years, many cat lovers have asked me: "Dave, how come you never write about cats? Is it because you don't like cats? Is it because cats are vicious unprincipled household parasites that will stroll up to the person who has fed them for 17 years and, without provocation, claw this person's shin flesh into lasagna? Is it because they are lazy, ungrateful, hairball-spewing . . . Hey! These aren't cat-lover quotations! You're making these quotations up!"

OK, so I do not harbor a great fondness for cats. But I intend to change my ways, because I sincerely, in my heart, want to cash in on the wave of cat mania that is sweeping the nation. The cause of this wave is, of course, the Clinton family cat, Socks Rodham Clinton, who was recently confirmed as Official White House Pet after lengthy Senate hearings in which it was determined that he had never knowingly employed illegal aliens. (Socks did, in his youth, experiment with catnip, but he did not inhale.)

So today I'm going to report some exciting developments in cat care. I'm not making these developments up; they were all brought to my attention by alert cat-loving readers such as Sharon Boltz, who sent me a newspaper advertisement for: the Cat Tub.

The Cat Tub ad has a photograph of a cat sitting inside a wire basket; the cat's head and front paws are sticking out the top, through a loose collar. The basket has been submerged, up to the cat's neck, in a clear plastic cylinder filled with water. There's a hose attached to a kitchen faucet so that water circulates around the cat, like a washing machine. You just know how much the cat is enjoying this.

I called up a San Diego architectural draftsman named Brad Davis, who told me that he invented the Cat Tub five years ago for his cat, Juan, when he (Juan) developed a flea problem.

"I had to bathe him a lot, and it was very difficult," he said. "Cats go ballistic when you put them in water. And they have claws."

Anyway, I think this is a terrific sanitation concept, which might someday be adapted for use with larger hard-to-bathe species such as cows, horses and my son. The Cat Tub retails for $59.95; for more information, write to 2445 Juan St., San Diego, Calif. 92110. Operators, in the form of Brad Davis, are standing by.

Another new wrinkle in cat hygiene was brought to my attention by Patricia Southward, who mailed me a newspaper article concerning a senior-citizen talent show in Sanford, Fla. The show featured an act by a woman named Harriett Boyd, her cat Streaky, and her small dog. The article, by Mark Barfield, states:

"The little dog ran around the stage while Boyd held the cat draped over her shoulder, made it sit and stay on a stand while she walked away and vacuumed it.

"Yes, she vacuumed the cat, to its obvious pleasure. She rubbed the roaring attachment over the cat's back while it stretched in luxurious appreciation."

Needless to say, this act won the silver talent medal. I would not be surprised to see your big international stars such as Michael ++ Jackson vacuuming cats on stage while a little dog (played by Marky Mark) runs around.

Anyway, let's say you have washed and vacuumed your cat, and now you'd like to give it a nice meal. But let's say, for one reason or another, your cat has no teeth. In this case you will want to purchase a product featured in an advertisement sent in by Ellen Feehan. The advertisement has a picture of a scientific-looking device, next to which is the following headline, which I swear I am not making up:

"Only the Polytron reduces an entire mouse to a soup-like homogenate in 30 seconds."

I called the manufacturer, Brinkmann Instruments, and spoke with a customer-service representative named Jeanette. She told me that the Polytron is used for laboratory-sample preparation by the scientific community, which is constantly striving to achieve important breakthroughs in mankind's ability to do stuff to mice.

DTC I asked her if any cat owners had bought Polytrons so they could provide their pets with nutritious Liquid Mouse Treats, and she said she didn't think so, because the basic model costs over $4,000. This is a lot of money for the average civilian, but your more affluent cat-loving individuals and institutions could easily afford a Polytron. I understand that the White House has ordered six.

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