We all know that most cats like water as much as we like receiving a letter from the IRS! While they may spend hours grooming themselves to perfection, there are some circumstances that may mean that it is necessary to perform a thorough cleaning of your feline friend and this usually makes bathing them unavoidable.
Cat’s can find being bathed extremely stressful which makes them far more likely to become defensive or even aggressive, hissing, raising their fur and even lashing out at you. However, with some preparation and patience, you can bath your cat and survive scratch-free and the secret involves not so much a bath, but a shower instead!
Just like bathing a baby; bathing a cat requires everything that you need to be within arm’s reach. You should have:
A shower or bath with a handheld showerhead.
Several towels to clean her off and help her dry.
Specialist cat shampoo and conditioner. This is available from most good
pet stores and your veterinarian will be able to advise if there is a particular sort that would be good for your feline friend. You should never use human shampoo or conditioner as is has a different PH level to the sort suitable for cats and could damage your pet’s hair or skin.
Before you start you should brush your cat to remove any knots or tangles, particularly if she is a long-furred breed. Set the water temperature to warm and have it running through the showerhead at a medium level spray.
While speaking softly to your cat and offering plenty of reassurance and praise, gently place her into the shower tray or bath. Using a showerhead from above is significantly less stressful for your pet as she is far more likely to be used to being rained on than she is to being lowered into 4 inches of tepid water!
Hold your cat in place by the scruff of her neck, or use a harness if you think she is going to be tricky to control. Begin washing her gently using soft, confident strokes. Cats are very intuitive at picking up on stress, so if you seem stressed she will likely also be on edge and far more prone to lash out or try to make a run for it!
Since she’s probably not as dirty as you think, only apply a small amount of shampoo. Make sure to rinse her clean and then repeat with the conditioner. Take care to avoid her eyes and nose.
Once she is clean, you should towel-dry your cat as much as possible. Some cats are petrified of hair dryers, but if your feline friend isn’t, you could consider trying to dry her using low heat and speed. However, you may need to confine her to a carrier in order to do this. Alternatively, you could leave your cat in the warm bathroom until her coat is totally dry. The important thing here is to ensure that she is thoroughly dried before letting her go into other parts of the house. Damp cats can easily become chilled which can make them unwell, or in the case of kittens, particularly low body temperatures can be life-threatening.
And that’s it! The secret to bathing your cat and surviving scratch-free really lies in the fact that a well-prepared shower is the very best way to get your feline companion clean.