How to Bathe a Cat
There are many things about owning a cat that are easy and stress-free. Cats are lonely creatures and usually do not require the same level of constant attention and emotional support as dogs. They are wanderers whose nightly sleep cycles induce obscene surges of energy in them very late at night. They poop in a box in the corner and don’t ask to be taken outside to pee at 5am. But bathing a cat – any cat – can seem like a Sisyphean task, as your feline buddy squirms, writhes, and clenches his claws in protest at the first sign of splashing water and lather.
It is not so much a possibility as a given; Most cats don’t like bathing , so your attempts to clean them with warm water and soap are likely to be met with fierce resistance. Cats clean themselves all the time, so definitely consider if you need to bathe your cat. If necessary, here’s how you can make it relatively easier.Ish.
Why do you need to bathe your cat?
Cats bathe all the time, so you only really need to think about bathing yours if the kitten falls into something they shouldn’t, or if it has some sort of ailment or infection that it can’t clear up on its own. As Preventivevet explains , if your cat has a fungal infection such as ringworm, fleas, or something foreign like motor oil or a cleaner covering its coat, you need to bathe it.
As Preventivevet explains, older and obese cats may need a bath more often:
These cats may not be able to groom themselves properly and fully, so they may need to bathe from time to time to keep their fur and skin healthy. Cats with arthritis may even appreciate a bath, as warm water and shampoo foam massage may actually feel good.
Try to make it relaxing
Cats get quite anxious when you don’t submerge them in a shallow pool of water. The essence of your bathing with your cat will be to make it as stress-free as possible.
You can try to lure the cat out of your shell with treats and verbal reassurances. It’s also a good idea to draw a bathtub before you push the cat into the paddock and put it in the bathroom – the noise of the water in the bathtub can be deafening and intimidating for an exhausted kitten.
Purina recommends several advanced cat bathing methods:
Always give praise and encouragement. Bathing your cat can be tricky, but treating your cat can help distract you, just like another person holding the cat by the head and calming it down.
To make your life easier, try playing with your cat ahead of time to tire it out. Be gentle too. This may take more than one person; one to hold the cat in place and one to apply soap to the contaminated area. If you think your cat’s infected areas will be harmful to you (especially if claws pop out of them), wear protective rubber gloves. You can also use the jug to wash off the soap, just like you would with a small child.
Also consider trimming your nails first if you think you might get scratched, although that can be tricky too.
Use a special shampoo and warm, not hot, water.
This goes without saying, but for felines that don’t do any research, there is a special shampoo that you should use to bathe your cat. Your local pet store and any number of online stores will have enough of this stuff and you need to use it because the pH level of human shampoo can be harmful to cats.
You should pour 2-3 inches of warm water into the tub and start cleaning accordingly. Hot water can damage your cat, especially if its coat is more sensitive than usual. If you need to clean their ears, use a cotton swab.
One note: cats of different breeds may require more frequent bathing than others. According to the SPCA of Central California , cats with long or particularly short coats can find it harder to keep themselves clean:
If your cat has a particularly long coat – for example, when it comes to breeds such as Persians – keeping the coat clean may be more than the cat can handle on its own (regardless of its grooming habits and abilities).
When it comes to cats with less or no hair, such as the Sphynx, which has no hair, occasional baths are really necessary to remove body fat .
When it comes to drying, most cats prefer to swaddle with a towel, as the roar of a hairdryer can be disorienting.
Talk to your veterinarian
If in doubt about the intricacies of cat baths, talk to your veterinarian. They should be able to answer your questions about shampoo brands and how best to get your cat out of a bath. Also, get ready to get a little wet and withstand a few cries from your favorite kitten. Just remember, it’s for their own good.