Cats are relatively clean and wash themselves … true! However, some cats are better at it than others and it is totally possible for your furry friend to become a right stink bomb. Cats that spend time outside may also decide to roll around in the dirt and bird feathers before making a sure advance towards your sofa ...
Most cats hate water, … that much you have probably already figured out. But sometimes you will just have to bite the bullet and give your cat a bath. This is how it can be done with the least distress to your cat and a minimum bodily damage to you.
You will need some supplies … the very least you will two towels, a cat safe shampoo (and possibly conditioner), a sponge and a pitcher. A non skid mat may also help your cat to feel better about standing in the water.
You may also consider clipping your cat’s nails before the bath so as to limit the amount of damage it can do.
What to do
A scared cat is hard to control, so make sure you shut the door to keep the kitty from running around the whole house should it manage to break free from you.
Put the mat at the bottom of the sink, the tub or the washing bowl and pour about three inches of warm water. Make sure you pour the water first as the sound of running water will scare the cat making it more uncontrollable.
Test the temperature of water in a very much the same way as you would test the water for a baby bath i.e. by placing your elbow in it, not the hand. This is because your elbow is much closer to your actual body temperature than the hand. If you drop the cat in water which is too cold or too hot, you will indeed get off on a wrong paw!
Talk to the cat quietly to reassure it that everything is fine. The cat should settle down within a few minutes so you can fully wet it. Use the pitcher to wet the fur all over, except do not pour water on the head. Some cats may be too panicky to be washed by one person, especially the first couple of times. In that case, arrange for two people to participate in the washing operation whereby one gently holds the cat and the other performs the shampooing and rinsing.
Once the cat is wet, squeeze a small amount of shampoo and massage into the coat using slow motions. Rinse the shampoo making sure to get all of it out so as not to irritate the skin. Do the same with the cat’s conditioner, but this step is optional if the cat has short hair. Also skip this step if the cat is too upset, and try using the conditioner next time you wash your cat.
After washing the cat’s body, dampen the sponge and use it to carefully wipe the face. Pay particular attention to the area around the eyes, but be careful not to get any water into the ears.
After the bath
Wrap the cat up in the towel and try to dry out as much water as possible. Attempt using the dry towel to go over the fur again, but if the moment you unravel the first towel the cat appears very distressed or aggressive, consider letting it go as long as the cat is not so wet that water is dripping out of its fur. The cat will take over from here and will finish the drying process itself by licking furiously.
Do not expect your cat to thank you for the bath! After the ordeal your fury friend will probably give you a silent treatment for some time and will be eyeing you up and down grudgingly. Do not worry, the cat will get over it and will be smelling nice for some time to come.
Cats tend to take a more relaxed view about the subject of water after a few baths. Indeed, if you start washing your cat from a kitten age, after a while the whole bathing procedure may not distress your cat at all. Keep in mind though, you should not wash your cat more than once in a few weeks so as not to irritate its skin and fur.