5-6 minute read
First of all - it is wise to ask if a bath is really necessary for your cat, as cats are self-grooming masters and do not need baths as often as dogs do. Cats spend between 35-50% of their day grooming themselves, so they’ve generally got it covered. However if you’ve got your reasons for your cat needing a bath, we are here to help! Here’s how to give your cat a bath, and maintain your loving relationship together after.
STEP 1: Determine if a bath is really necessary
There are often medical reasons you may need bathe your cat, for example if your cat or kitten has a flea infestation or ringworm, your veterinarian might give you a prescription shampoo to use. Any cat or kitten who has been rolling in something sticky or oily such as motor oil will need a bath to help them get this out of their fur, and prevent ingesting the substance.
Hairless breeds of cat require baths because they don't have hair for their oils and sweat from their skin to cling to, and they’re unable to groom themselves effectively as a result. Overweight cats and arthritic cats may need help keeping themselves clean, especially in hard to reach places on their body because they are not as flexible to reach these places.
If you’ve determined that a bath is really necessary, then carry on through the steps.
STEP 2: Choose a calm setting
This is more a step of how - avoid peak activity times or when your cat is very hungry, or the human activity is high such as children getting home from school or getting ready for an activity. Ideally your cat will be as relaxed as possible.
Don’t attempt a bath if you are in a rush or have limited time as cats can pick up on that tension, and it’ll be more difficult to make this a positive and pain free experience.
STEP 3: Brush and Trim Prior
Unless you want scratches up and down your arms, torso, and potentially your face during and after the bath, we recommend you trim your cat’s nails before bath time.
Give your cat a nice brushing pre bath being sure to detangle any knots and work through any matted fur, especially for longer haired cats. Work around any material caught in the fur as best you can. Matted fur can trap soap and result in skin infections later on. Like with nail trimming, brushing your cat regularly should be part of your routine.
STEP 4: Place a non-slip mat down
Sinks and large plastic tubs work better than human bathtubs for cats due to there being less space for the cat to move around, ultimately resulting in an easier manoeuvring experience for you, so it is crucial to have a non-slip mat on whatever surface you choose to use. Cats like traction on the floor, and if the floor beneath them is too slippery, it will cause greater chaos and distress for all involved.
STEP 5: Fill the sink with 5-8cm of warm water
Rushing water sounds can distress your cat, so we recommend filling your sink or tub with a small amount of water before you place your cat in there. Alternatively, if you have a spray nozzle you can use this on a low setting as an alternative, as this will not distress your cat as much as a loud rushing water sound.
STEP 6: Wet your cat
Make sure your water is warm, not hot. Using a warm slightly damp washcloth, gently clean your cat’s ears and face. Avoid using soap on these areas directly unless absolutely necessary. Slowly wet your cat’s body with a small cup or the nozzle, and start near the base of the tail and work your way up to the neck.
Remember to talk to your cat throughout this process, as you can be sure they will be talking to you!
STEP 7: Massage shampoo into the fur - preferably unscented!
Felines are very particular about their scent, and you do not want to mess with their carefully calibrated essence! We love Jackson Galaxy, who is an expert cat behaviourist. He cannot stress enough how important it is to use unscented shampoo. Gently massage an unscented (or medicated from the vet) shampoo into the fur, again working from tail to neck.
STEP 8: Rinse THOROUGHLY!
Rinse and rinse again, offering soothing praise to your cat the whole time. Any lingering soap on the skin can cause irritation, so it’s important to make sure your cat is soap free.
STEP 9: Dry calmly with towels
Gently and calmly blot your cat’s fur dry, talking to them the whole time. Use as many dry, clean towels as you think are necessary.
At this point your cat may be extra feisty trying as hard as they can to sneak away from you! Persevere and hold tight as you get her as dry as possible. It’s okay to let your cat air dry the rest of the way in a warm room.
STEP 10: Time for Treats!
If there was ever a time to give food treats to your cat, it is after bath time! It might be a good idea to reserve specific treats for events like baths, trimming, and brushing, so your cat can associate those activities with positive rewards. You can even give them safe-to-eat human foods such as ham and eggs as an extra special treat.