What You Need to Know About Bathing Your Cat
Cats don’t normally need a bath; they are meticulous groomers. Sometimes, though, they may get something sticky, greasy, or toxic on their fur that requires a good washing. Unfortunately, bath time is not typically fun time for kitties, and if your cat belongs in the large majority of water-hating felines, you’ll need to take extra steps to reduce her stress and the damage she’s likely to inflict on your flesh and ego.
Preparation is Key
Proper preparation can make all the difference when it comes to a stress-free bathing experience for both you and your cat. Gather all your supplies ahead of time. You’ll need a shampoo specially formulated for cats, as well as several towels and either a large cup or a hand-held shower for rinsing. Additionally, you’ll want to trim kitty’s nails and give her a good brushing to remove tangles and loose hair before putting her in the tub.
Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, recommends a calming product called Scaredy Cat to help calm your kitty before bath time begins. She says, “I apply a little Scaredy Cat. I use flower essences very liberally. I pet the cat with some on my hand. I also apply a little to my fingers and rub it on the inside of the tips of his ears. You can also give flower essences orally, but I prefer to give them topically since they are alcohol tinctures.”
Setting the Stage
Fill the tub with a few inches of warm (not hot) water before bringing your cat into the bathroom, as the sound may scare her or remind of her previous bathing disasters. Remove anything kitty may knock over or use to climb out of the tub, and then place a full size towel on the bottom of the tub. This will give your cat something to grip onto if she panics while in the water. Once all of this is done, bring your cat into the bathroom, closing the door behind you.
Also, if you tend to keep your home cool, consider raising the temperature a few degrees to ensure your cat is more comfortable when bath time is over and she is still soaking wet.
How to Get Kitty Clean Without Losing a Finger
After putting on protective clothing (you’ll want to protect as much of your skin as possible), gently lower your cat into the water, allowing her to stand on her two hind legs if she prefers. If she immediately starts putting up a major fight, you may want to call in reinforcements to gently hold and soothe her while you do the bathing.
Wet her thoroughly by slowly pouring cups of bath water over her fur, and then gently rub in a small amount of cat shampoo. Avoid her face and the top of her head, if possible. Once she’s lathered, you’ll need to rinse her well. And then you’ll want to rinse her some more. Leaving shampoo on her skin can cause itching and dryness. Use a wet washcloth to wash her face.
If your cat begins growling, panting, or crying, stop the bath, rinsing as quickly as possible if you’ve already applied shampoo, and try again another day.
The Recovery Period
Once bath time is over, wrap kitty in a warm towel and press as much water out of her fur as possible. Then, switch to a dry towel and hold her until she is mostly dry and calm. If she allows it, you can try using a blow dryer on a low setting. Reward your cat with a treat, meal, and lots of cuddles, and then tend to your wounds with antibiotic ointment and Band-Aids.
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