How do you know if your cat needs a bath?
Do kittens? Long hairs? Is washing your cat even possible?!
Popular opinion varies, but it is true the typical indoor, domestic short hair cat will never need a bath. Cats do a great job grooming and maintaining hygiene on their own. However, if you have a long hair cat (like a Persian), you will need to bathe them occasionally to prevent oil build up in the dense under layers of their coat. The same is true for small kittens who sometimes end up covered in poop or over weight cats who can’t reach their rear end. If possible start washing them young so they have more time to get used to the experience. Washing your cat can be stressful for both of you, but not impossible. Here are some helpful tips to get you through kitties first washing.
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Tip 1.) Keep kitty calm and safe!
Try to time the bath when your cat is relaxed, not after you give him that new cat nip toy. Give your cat a good brushing to loosen up any extra fur or knots. Grooming can also be a relaxing activity for you and your cat before bath time. If you don’t already know, most cats hate baths and will likely fight you during one. Even the nicest cat will claw if it feels stressed. For this reason, I highly recommend wearing gloves until you know how your cat will react. You can also trim their nails ahead of time for added safety.
Tip 2.) Have everything you need within arms reach.
Your towel, wash cloth, cat shampoo, rubber gloves, rising cup and helpful assistant should all be ready to go. Having a extra person to hold and pet the cat while you wash will make the process much easier for everyone. Start the water a head of time. Keeping the volume down with no sudden movements will help keep kitty calm. Fill your tub or bucket up to your cats underbelly and make the sure the temperature isn’t too hot or cold.
Tip 3.) Start at the tail end.
Like washing your dog, cats HATE water being poured on their head. So start at the tail end and work your way up, avoiding the head and face. Use a small damp cloth to wipe around their ears and whiskers. After you have lathered them up, be sure to rise thoroughly. Leftover suds can irritate the skin. Wrap your cat up in a big towel when you are done and gently pat them dry.
Now that your all done, give your cat lots of pets and a treat for being so good! Over time, they will grow to associate bath time with a special treat.
Image: Austin White via Flickr