Tip 87 – Cat bath – Bathing cats – Should I bathe my cat
There are some dissenting views on this issue but in general there is usually no reason to bathe your cat especially a shorthaired indoor cat. Cats spend a large percentage of their days grooming themselves and they are experts at it. Using their barbed tongues they lick dirt and debris off their fur in order to keep it clean and odor free. Cats with long hair may require the occasional bath if their fur gets too oily. Their fur can get too oily based on climate conditions and the individual skin of the cat. Hairless cats like sphynxes DO need a weekly bath because their skin gets greasy and dirty. There are also occasional times when your cat’s fur may get excessively dirty due to some mishap that the cat has gotten itself into. In some of these cases it may be necessary to give your cat a bath.
You should know right off the bat that almost all cats hate baths, so be prepared. Here are some tips to make the experience easier:
- Cat baths are smoother when 2 people are bathing the cat. One holds the cat while the other bathes the cat. Bathing the cat should be done in the bathroom where you can close the door to prevent escapes. Noise (like rushing bath water) is always an issue for the cat so anything to keep the noise level down will help.
- Preparation is everything – Run the bath water BEFORE you put the cat in the bath and make sure the water is not too hot and not too cold. The height of the water should reach the cat’s underbelly.
- A rubber bathmat or towel placed in the tub will give the cat something to grip when it gets nervous and is a good idea.
- Use a cat shampoo recommended by your vet, groomer or other qualified pet professional.
- Do NOT wet the cat’s head. Instead use a moist washcloth or towelette if the cat’s face and head are dirty. GENTLY wet the cat from neck to bum using a cup or small pail with the bath water itself and start shampooing at the neck and move toward the bum. Then wash the legs.
- Meowing and yowling at this point are normal unless your cat is mute, in a coma, or practically dead. Just continue rubbing in the suds gently. Don’t use too much shampoo.
- The rinsing is the most important part as shampoo left on a cat’s skin will make your cat scratch itself thereby irritating its skin. Start draining the bath water. While it is draining, start rinsing the cat’s fur with the remaining bath water using cup or small pail. This gets the ‘big suds’ off. Use or buy a cheap shower attachment for this next part. With warm water from the shower attachment, rinse and rub the fur well from neck to bum. Once you think it’s clean do it again quickly making sure there is no shampoo residue.
- While in the tub put a towel all around kitty and start gently rubbing all around its body. It must be a gentle rub or pat down because especially in a longhaired cat, you don’t want the rubbing to create new knots. Remove kitty from the tub and use another towel to further absorb water from the fur.
- If you have a hair dryer that does NOT make too much noise you can try rubbing the fur while blow drying. Make sure that if your cat is NOT completely dry that you put it in a WARM room so that it does not catch a chill and get sick. This CAN happen easily.
Note: It is 100% normal for the cat to start licking its fur immediately after you’ve finished all your hard work.
There are many other creative techniques for bathing cats. Another one that makes good sense is the shallow buckets technique. Buy 5 cheap shallow buckets. Fill them all so the height reaches the cat’s underbelly. Put the cat in the first bucket and start shampooing – The next 4 buckets are rinsing buckets where using your hands you rinse the suds off kitty as you transfer the lucky feline from bucket to bucket. Make sure all the suds have been removed and dry the cat well.