How do you bathe a cat? Madness, you let them do it themselves…right? Cats spend 30-50% of their time grooming themselves, so they don’t need help from us in the bathroom department…right? Well, yes. Most of the time.
There are some cats who, despite this almost obsessive cleaning, are just plain slobs. Their personal hygiene isn’t great and they end up sticky or greasy and just plain gross. Elderly or overweight cats can’t reach all their bits and sick cats can’t be bothered, so they can also end up greasy or sticky and just plain gross. And then there are the special cases, like young Sparrow, who sometimes get themselves into dirty situations that they don’t want to put in their mouths and you don’t want in your home. Like this:
Warning! Warning! Warning!
As you probably know, when a cat gets angry or stressed painful things can happen. No matter how chill and loving kitty is, when faced with an uncomfortable situation he will claw and bite and thrash to get away. For this reason, I recommend having someone help you with your cat bathing mission, ideally a person the kitty likes, who can keep him calm and steady during the bathing process. One person holds and soothes the ferocious beast, while the other does the bathing. It’s also a good idea to prepare your cat by trimming his claws before bath time so that if things do get ugly the damage to you and your assistant will be minimal. A good brushing will get rid of any loose hair or dirt and make your job much easier.
The idea is to keep the process quick and stress-free for everybody involved, especially the cat. Have everything prepared before introducing kitty to the tub. For your own comfort and ergonomics, it might be best to bathe kitty in the kitchen sink, so you don’t have to kneel or bend down for the duration. Things to do in your preparation include:
- Regulate the water temperature – it should be lukewarm, you don’t want to shock your cat with too hot or too cold. A tub or sink with a hose attachment is best so you don’t have to lower a scaredy cat into a pool of water.
- Place something non-slip in the tub – this works to keep kitty stable and calm. A rubber mat or a wet towel should do the trick.
- Choose a shampoo specifically for felines – something with no scent and no additives is best. Remember whatever you put on your cat is going to end up in your cat when he grooms. Look for a shampoo that is all-natural and organic, mild and very gentle.
- Keep several dry towels within arms reach – you will need these as soon as you’re done with the water.
- Calm your cat with a soothing flower essence such as Rescue Remedy. This can be given orally or applied to the tips of kitty’s ears with your fingers.
- DO NOT attempt to bathe your cat when he’s jazzed up and ready to play. If kitty is bouncing off the walls, put bath time off until he’s a bit more mellow.
Time to Get Clean
Now that your cat and the tub are both prepared, it’s time for the grand introduction. If you’ve used Rescue Remedy or something similar your cat should be nice and calm but there’s every chance kitty could freak out and try to bolt when the water starts – if this happens, just let him go. A frightened cat is a dangerous creature and the name of this game is to keep your cat as stress-free as possible. If your cat bolts, let him go and try again later. If your cat absolutely will not co-operate and desperately needs a wash you might be best to take him to a professional groomer or even to the vet’s office to get this done.
Step-by-Step Cat Bath
- Have your helper gently lower the cat into the tub while talking and petting in a soothing manner. Praising kitty during the whole process will help to keep him calm.
- Using your hose or a plastic pitcher, begin wetting your cat from the back of the neck right down to the tail. Do not wet the face or head.
- Once your cat is thoroughly wet, apply your cat shampoo and massage gently all over. Be sure to wash armpits, belly, bottom and tail.
- Rinse thoroughly, making sure to get all those tricky areas; under the belly, armpits, bottom and tail. Take care to rinse away all the shampoo, as any residue left behind can become a skin irritant.
- Wash kitty’s face with a damp washcloth. Do not use shampoo as this could get into his eyes and cause much anger.
- Wring out your cat by running your hands down his body, starting at the back of the neck to remove excess water.
- Immediately wrap your cat in a dry towel and hold and cuddle him in a warm room until he’s completely dry. Have a couple of extra dry towels on hand to help with this.
- Praise the life out of your cat for doing such a good job!
So now you have a clean, dry cat and you survived the process! Well done! Remember to lavish your cat with praise and treats and pour yourself a congratulatory drink. You both deserve it.
Are you a stinky kitty bathing survivor? Share your battle stories in the comments below…