Image Credit: Flickr: Frod0x
Although cats are self-cleaning, outdoor cats, long haired cats and hairless cats may need to be bathed every now and then. Occasionally your outdoor cat will come in smelling of something foul, long haired cats can get matted coats and pick up dirt, while the skin of hairless cats will build up oil that needs to be cleaned regularly.
Some lucky cat owners are blessed with a cat who loves water, but most cats are barely on speaking terms with the wet stuff and will STRUGGLE. So, here are sixteen tips to help you bathe your kitty and minimize the scars and traumas for both of you.
Here are the 16 tips …
- Before the dreaded bath, tire her out with some intense play to burn off some energy. Really give the cat the best play session of her life. Play and play and play. Play until you’ve taken the fight right out of her.
- Make sure your cat’s claws are clipped. You will find out quickly if you forgot this step.
- Brush your cat first. Especially long haired cats need to be brushed before the bath, as brushing will be too difficult and painful with a wet coat. As a bonus, the brushing session is likely to really set the mood. Making her feel nice and mellow.
- Wear protective clothing such as a long sleeved shirt or sweater and/or long gloves. Basically gear up with whatever armour, shielding, chainmail seems appropriate. Cardboard and duct tape could work. Consider increasing the thickness of the material the larger your cat happens to be. But if your cat happens to be a tiger, well, you may want to reconsider whether she really needs a bath tonight.
- Bathe your cat in a room that you can secure, such as the bathroom or laundry, to prevent escape into the house. But again, if he happens to be a tiger we don’t suggest locking yourself in the cage. Just a word from the wise.
- Get everything ready at the sink or bathtub so you don’t have to run around during the bath to find the shampoo as she will take advantage of your oversight and make a break for it. In others words, plan ahead. Be prepared. You will need several old towels, cat shampoo, a cloth for washing her face, and maybe a cup for rinsing and cotton balls.
- Put a towel or rubber mat in the sink or bath to give the cat something to stand on that isn’t slippery. Everyone can benefit from a nice solid base on which to anchor themselves. Your kitty is no exception.
- Stay calm. Talk to your feline friend throughout the bath, soothingly. If this is her first bath she’s probably quite panicked and if you stay calm and patient you make the process that much easier for the both of you. Don’t rush the process but don’t dawdle either. Also if this the first bath consider making it a short one.
- Ideally, bathe your cat in the sink. Keep the water on a tepid, steady and slow stream. Do not use a high setting for either heat or flow. However, keep in mind that some cats get really nervous around running water. It’s like when you’re doing a set at the local comedy club, you’ve really got to feel the temperature of the room. Don’t go in with a hard and fast plan. Adapt!
- Another option is to fill a sink or bath with a few inches of water and use a plastic cup to pour water over your cat. Avoid her head and only pour over the body. Some cats really hate getting dunked into water (even if it’s shallow) and I really I don’t blame them. If that’s the case “showering” them in the sink is then the easier option.
- Make sure your cat feels secure. Hold firmly (but not too tightly) around the neck and shoulder area. Just as you trimmed her nails for your protection, you might consider returning the favor for her. Sometimes scruffing the cat is the better option. Never let go. Bathing is a one-handed job from now on and if you need to switch hands, do so carefully and make sure you never fully release your cat. If your cat is a real little struggler, you can use a cat harness in order to gain a better grip.
- Do not submerge your cat’s head. I think this one should go without saying. But just in case this little gem of an idea crossed your mind, how about you take a deep breath and try again. Instead you want to let water flow over your cat’s body to thoroughly wet her fur. If you need to clean your cat’s face, use a damp washcloth or towel instead. In fact, in some cases, it’s likely best to just leave the face for another session.
- Lather your cat with shampoo using your one free hand. Use a shampoo formulated for cats. Don’t use human shampoo! Turns out the human stuff is just way too harsh for feline skin. This includes baby shampoos. Also, don’t use too much shampoo as you’ll only make the rinsing step harder. Be careful not to get any shampoo in her eyes, nose, and ears.
- Rinse kitty well while avoiding the head and ears. If your cat tolerates it, you can put a cotton ball in each ear to prevent water from entering. Rinsing is important as remnants of the shampoo can irritate her skin.
- After the bath, wrap your cat up in a towel and pat him dry. In winter you can warm the towel on a heater or in the dryer for a nice warm towel off. Some cats really love the blow dryer on a low setting (a low heat setting is essential and a low fan setting is preferred because of the noise). Always place your hand between your cat’s skin and the blow dryer so you can monitor the heat. You can use your off hand to fluff the fur as you blow dry it.
- Now it’s time for a treat for cat and two-footer alike. Kitty will continue grooming on her own to get her fur to sit just so. Meanwhile, you can put some ointment on your scratches and have a cuppa, and with a bit of luck your feline friend will forgive you soon enough.