Tips for bathing your cat
Bathing your cat doesn't have to be a blood sport!
Time to bathe that cat. Sends thoughts of flying water, fur and blood racing through your mind, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be that way! Some cats are just very hard to bathe; however, most of them will adapt to it with some patience and perseverance on your part.
Here is what you should have on hand to bathe your cat:
At least four bath towels. Cats will hold a lot of water in their fur, even though they are small. It also helps to have this many towels to use for wrapping your cat after they are out of the bath to keep them from trashing your bathroom or killing you. If your cat manages to create a large laceration on you or your helpers, a towel pressed over the wound will keep from getting blood all over your bathroom.
A large plastic cup to fill with bathwater to pour on your cat. Many cats do not like the sound of running water, and even if you have a hose attached to your showerhead to easily spray your cat, many cats will stress over the sound these make.
You will also need a specially formulated kitty shampoo. Don’t use human shampoo; it could contain chemicals that are harmful to your kitty. Cat shampoo will have the best ingredients for your cat.
For first time kitties or troublesome ones, you should also consider a harness for them to wear during the bath. It will make it easier to hang onto them instead of holding their scruff. If they are not used to a harness you will need to put it on them for awhile before the bath to let them get used to it; but don’t let them go outside! Harnesses are not designed to break away like cat collars are and can choke your cat if it gets hung up on something, or not allow them to get away if they are being chased.
An extra person to help you is essential; one person cannot bathe a cat by themselves without grooming tie-outs and a grooming table.
Locate all the tools and people you will need to bathe your cat. You don’t want to be scrabbling looking for things later when you have an angry wet cat in your possession.
Have your cat in the house for a couple hours beforehand, try and start when they are relaxed and relatively calm. If they are highly energized at the start, it makes it that much more difficult.
Remove any curtains from your shower or push them well off to the side.
Place a rug or towel on the floor of your bathroom to set your cat on later.
Fill your bathtub with about six inches of warm water for an adult cat. You want it to be deep enough to reach their belly when standing up; this allows enough water to get them thoroughly cleaned, but not enough water to soak everything in the vicinity.
- Locate the person who drew the short straw and will be helping you.
Locate your cat and relocate your helper, they have probably wandered off.
Make sure the bathroom door is shut tightly. A cat will see an open door as a very viable escape route and be much more likely to try and jump from the bath.
- Kneel next to the bathtub with your helper, and place your cat in the water with one hand firmly but gently holding the scruff above their shoulders and the other hand on their lower back. If your kitty is wearing a harness, hold onto that instead of their scruff.
Have your helper use the cup and pour water over the cat’s body leaving their head dry. Using the hand that is on the lower back, help the water to permeate their coat, but don’t let go of their shoulders or harness!
Once your cat’s coat is thoroughly soaked and your cat is thoroughly annoyed, have your helper pour small amounts of shampoo into the same hand rub it into your cat’s coat, again leaving the head alone.
Once your cat is well-lathered and clean, have your helper once again use the cup to pour water over the cat and use your hand to help rinse the soap out. Make sure that ALL of the shampoo is rinsed!
- As soon as the soap is rinsed out, your helper will pull the drain on the bathtub and you use your hand to pet your cat and push water out of their coat (keeps your bathroom a little drier).
- Have your helper grab a towel and hold it open like they’re going to hug someone with it. once they are ready, pick up your cat and quickly hand it to them; they will wrap it up in the towel.
- Remember that towel on the floor? Keeping the door CLOSED, set your cat on the towel and using another dry towel, pet your cat, rub their fur to get excess water out.
- They are likely to be very angry at this point and will want to run outside, but keep them in! You don’t want them getting sick or muddy.
- If there is furniture you don’t want damp, place a bath towel over it. These are the places your cat will likely go first: Your bed, the couch, an armchair or any other place you really don’t want wet.
Keep your house warm for a few hours to keep your kitty from getting chilled, and keep them away from drafty rooms.
At this point let your cat bathe herself; she is likely to do so for a couple hours. They have a need to get their fur back in order. Time for you to take a look at the bathroom situation; check to make sure nothing is broken, rinse the fur out of your tub, mop up extraneous water, replace your shower curtain and collect all those wet towels. Take stock of any injuries and lacerations you or your helper might have sustained, and treat them accordingly.