Cats are notorious for being eternal enemies with water. However, while most of our feline friends don’t particularly enjoy the occasional bathing session, some of them might actually need it.
How can you know whether your cat needs bathing? Here are a few cases:
● Your kitty doesn’t take care of her hygienic needs by herself. Cats, as owners very well know, can have very different personalities, and while all cats have innate self-grooming instincts, some of them are much lazier than others. If your cat doesn’t suffer from any medical conditions, but develops a strong smell or her coat starts to look messy and matted, it’s probably about time you gave her a little help in the hygiene department.
● Your cat has weight or arthritis problems. If you’ve ever seen an overweight cat try to groom herself, you’re familiar with the struggle. Overweight cats have a hard time reaching some of their body parts, especially their backs, which leads to mats and stickiness in the coat. Same goes for cats with arthritis – they don’t have the flexibility to fully groom themselves.
● Your cat suffers from other medical conditions. There are many ways to bath your cat. Some of them use special shampoos/oils and washing techniques to ease or cure certain health issues for cats, most commonly – fleas and ticks. Other health deficiencies like ringworms can also be treated through special medicated baths.
Preparing For The Bath
If you’ve never bathed your cat before, you can only guess what her reaction will be once she’s introduced to water. Some cats might dislike it so much that they will do anything to get out of your grasp – this includes biting and scratching. And believe us, a stressed out cat can do some serious damage to your skin.
That’s why it’s a good preventionary measure to trim your cat’s nails a few days before bathing, in case you haven’t done that already recently. Why give it a few days? Because cutting your kitten’s claws can be a stressful even on its own, and you want your predator to be as relaxed and calm as possible before bathing.
You’ll probably want to ask someone for a pair of helping hands, too. It’s much more convenient to have someone hold the kitten while you quickly wash him. Just, if you ask for someone’s assistance, make sure it’s someone who is comfortable with keeping your cat under control. An assistant who doesn’t have a calm attitude and a steady grasp on the cat will only make the situation worse in case something goes wrong.
Once you get to the actual bathing, it is a good idea to prepare everything before the procedure starts. This includes setting the water to the desirable temperature, putting all of the cosmetic tools you’re going to use within an arm’s reach and covering the floor with towels so your cat doesn’t spread water all over the house. Again, bathing cats is a stressful and scary event for them, and by preparing everything in advance, you’re going to make the whole thing end as quickly as possible.
One trick you can use to make your cat calmer in regards to bathing is through use of spirited oils, like Scaredy Cat. What they do is they emit a scent that makes cats more tender and relaxed. Use them in the bathroom before you bring in your cat and she might even start to like bathing.
The last thing you’ll want to consider is the choice of shampoo you’re going to use (if you are, that is). While there are many different choices for different types of furs, you can’t really go too wrong with a designated cat shampoo.
The problem most owners make is that they assume that the shampoos they use themselves or the ones that they use to wash dogs are suitable for cats, too. Using a shampoo that is not specifically made for cat use is strictly not recommended, since you can poison your cat or damage their skin. Human shampoos, for example, can dry out your cat’s skin severely. It is much better to bathe your cat with just water, rather than use shampoos that contain a lot of chemicals and an unbalanced pH.
Once Your Cat Is In The Bathtub…
Bathing a cat is really not that hard. First off, you might find it more convenient to bathe your cat in a sink, not in an actual tub. Just to dispel any confusions, you don’t literally bathe your cat (put it in water), you shower it (pour water gently over her body). Using a sink will probably be much more convenient for you and your helper, and most sinks should be large enough for your cat.
Another option you could go for is a bathtub for cats. We think that unless you’re running a vet clinic, you’ll be just fine using your home shower or sink, but if you perhaps don’t want to share the same shower with your cat, you could get a designated cat bathtub.
Again, having someone to hold your cat steady while you wash the cat is probably the best way to bathe a cat. Cats can respond extremely negatively to water, so having an extra pair of arms will help you control the situation.
Once all of you are in position, start pouring water from the tap gently over your cat’s body. Try to avoid getting a cat’s head wet, since there’s really little point to wash a cat’s head and there’s a high chance she’ll run away once that happens.
If your cat does start refusing to being washed at any point, let her run away. Panicked cats will bite and claw their way to freedom, and the whole experience will have a negative impact on your relationship, not to mention possible injuries for either of you.
For cats with longer coat, you might want to dilute the shampoo with water, so it can soak throughout the hair all the way to her skin. For short-haired cats, applying the shampoo right is fine.
If everything is going smoothly up to this point, carefully rinse the cat’s belly, her tail, her armpits and her back. Avoid the head, let the shampoo to do its job for a few minutes, and wash it off. Wrap your cat in a dry towel and reward it for cooperation.