How To Bathe Cats
Bathe cats, are you INSANE?! Well…not really. Besides, I found that picture and just had to share. But just because the cat says, “No way!” doesn’t mean it’s not possible. And you don’t need a special kitten bath tub to properly groom cats. Here’s how to give a cat a bath.
Karma-Kat is a weenie when it comes to getting wet. He’s gotten into the bad habit of standing on top of his “puddles” while digging to cover them in the litter box. As a result, one rear paw gets nasty-wet with litter stuck halfway up his leg, and just dunking that foot sends Karma into near-hysterics.
I’m sharing this information from my GROOMING entry from Cat Facts, The Series 7 (G): The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia which includes these topics:
Geriatric Cat, Giardia, Gingivitis, Glaucoma, Grass (Eating), Grief, and Grooming.
I’ve broken the massive CAT FACTS book into catnip-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every week or so, but ONLY for subscribers on my Amy’s Newsletter Of course, you can still get the entire CAT FACTS book either in Kindle or 540+ pages of print.
When, Why, and How to Bathe Cats
Why risk life and limb bathing your cat? Does it really matter that she’s gray instead of snowy white? Well, if the kitty gets into something, you may need to suds her up. A bath stimulates the skin and removes excess oil, dander, and shed hair. But bathing too often can dry the skin. As a good rule of “paw” bathe shorthaired cats no oftener than every six weeks; two to three times a year during shedding season should suffice unless Kitty gets really grubby, or is a show cat. Longhaired cats benefit from more frequent baths, and felines appearing in shows learn as kittens to accept baths.
Karma is a fastidious boy and usually keeps himself spiffy, but this new bad habit means he tracks “stuff” around. And, I’m not a fan of him having to lick off/ingest the soiled litter, either.
Kittens should not be bathed until they are at least four weeks old–learn more about kitten care in my book. Elderly cats or extremely ill cats may be stressed by bathing so follow your veterinarian’s recommendation in these instances. These days Seren plays the “age” card to keep her fur dry.
How To Bathe Cats—Plan Ahead
Should you decide to take the plunge—pun intended—your cat should be thoroughly brushed and/or combed ahead of time. Remove fur mats before bathing, because water will just cement mats in place.
- The bath area should be warm and draft free. The bathtub will do, but your knees will thank you for using a waist-high sink. Move all breakables out of reach, and push drapes or shower curtains out of the way or they may spook your cat and end up shredded.
- For routine cleaning, you only need a simple grooming shampoo labeled specifically for cats. Human baby shampoo or dog products can be too harsh and dry the skin or in some cases prove toxic.
- Assemble your shampoo, several towels, and washcloth near the sink or tub, and run warm water (about 102 degrees, or cat body temperature) before you bring in the cat.
- Wear old clothes. Expect to get wet. Seren clutches my shirt, pressing her face to me as I wet and soap the rest of her.
- Also, close the door to the bathing area, or you risk having a soapy cat escape and leave suds and a wet cat print trail throughout your spanking-clean house.
- Cats hate the insecure footing of the slippery surfaces, so place a towel or rubber mat in the bottom of your tub or sink. That does wonders for cat confidence and often reduces yowls and struggles by half.
How to Bathe Cats With The Bucket Method as a Kitten Bath Tub
For small kitties the bucket method of bathing often works best. Use the double sink in the kitchen, two or more large roasting pans, or a couple of buckets or wastebaskets set in the bathtub. Fill each with warm water.
- Gently lower your cat into the first container to get her wet. Let your kitty stand on her hind legs and clutch the edge of the container as you thoroughly wet the fur.
- Then lift her out onto one of your towels, and apply the shampoo to her body.
- After lathering, dip the cat back into the first container to rinse. Get as much soap off as possible before removing and sluice off excess water before rinsing in subsequent containers of clean water or use a low-level spray closed to the body with the sink attachment.
- If the cat acts scared of being dunked or the spray attachment, use a cup or ladle to dip water. Use the washcloth to wet, soap and rinse the face area. Keep one hand on the cat at all times to prevent escapes.
- Rinse beginning at the neck and down Sheba’s back; don’t neglect beneath the tail or tummy. When the water finally runs clear and you know she’s clean, rinse once more just to be sure.
- Wrap the squeaky-clean cat in a dry towel. Shorthaired cats dry quickly, but longhaired felines may need two or more towels to blot away most of the water. Seren prefers to dry her
self. If your cat tolerates or enjoys the blow dryer, use only the lowest setting to avoid burning the cat. Combing long fur as you blow dry will give “oomph” to the longhaired coat.
For Karma, I’ve found it works best to use the nozzle sprayer. He hates being “dunked” and the water coming from the faucet intimidates him. Go figure…he’s a sink cat and loves sitting in the empty basin, but that’s HIS choice, LOL!
Have you ever bathed your cat? What would cause you to dare the impossible? I used to bathe Seren at least once a year just to prove to us both it could be done. She’s now only
5 pounds so I figure that I’m the biggest “cat” in the house…but I think this year she may win the contest.
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!