Bathing your cat doesn’t have to be a traumatic battle. Follow these eight tips for a calm experience.
Chances are, bath time is never going to be your cat’s favorite, but you can make it a lot less stressful with these easy tips. I have been using them since 1985, after adopting a traumatized shelter cat that was extremely difficult to bathe, and they really do work. My two current cats don’t mind bathing either; in fact, it seems to make them feel special!
1 Pick a dry day if possible.
Dry air will help your cat dry faster, which means she will be uncomfortable for a shorter time.
2 Make sure she does not feel “ganged up on”.
Only one person should do the bathing, unless the cat is unmanageable or is a new cat that is not yet predictable.
3Do not immerse her in water.
Cats do not like deep or rising water, so choose a bathing setup that allows the water to run away from her. A sink or shower with a sprayer is best, but a bucket of water and a plastic cup to pour water over the cat will also work. It just takes a little longer. Be sure to cover the drain with a cloth that will keep the pads of her paws from slipping through drain holes, but will allow the water to drain away. Use warm (not hot!) water.
4 Use a gentle, natural bath product that won’t dry the cat’s tender skin.
Before you start with your cat, prepare some sudsy cloths to make the bathing time a little shorter. Allow her to put her front feet up on the side of the sink or tub, or even on a bucket that is full of water. This will help her feel more in control. If you get suds too close to her eyes, nose or mouth, wipe them off in a direction away from the face, using a clean dry cloth.
Avoid commercial shampoos that contain harsh chemicals.
5 Comfort your cat by talking to her and gently massaging her during the bath.
She will seem calmer if she is distracted from the water. It is important not to hurt her feelings or make her feel forced into having a bath. If your cat is a “shiver-puss”, keep a warm wet cloth draped over her back as you bathe the other parts. This may also give her a feeling of security.
6 Rinse really well.
This is really important because a cat will vomit if she licks off any kind of suds. You must go back and rinse the cat thoroughly if this ever happens.
Cats do not like deep or rising water, so choose a bathing setup that allows the water to run away from her.
7 Squeeze as much water as possible from the cat’s fur, using a small towel.
If she shivers, wrap her in a towel to help retain her body heat. Do not do this unless she shivers, though, as you can cause her to overheat. Blot out as much water as possible, and let the cat lick herself. Shaking off is a good thing, so don’t discourage it. Some cats like to be rubbed with a towel, while others hate it, so let your cat decide.
8Long before the bath, introduce her to a hair dryer to see if you will be able to use it.
If it stresses her, don’t use it. Just keep her in a warm spot away from drafts until she is dry and comfortable again. If you can use a dryer, it should be slightly warm and at a low speed. It would also be helpful if it does not make a lot of noise. Be gentle, and no not over-dry. If you do, the cat will start itching and scratching, even if she does not have fleas.
By following these suggestions, bathing your cat should soon become much less stressful. With patience and persistence, it may even turn into a pleasant experience for you and your feline friend.