Perhaps the first question we should ask when it comes to bathing a cat, is whether we need to give them a bath at all? The jury is out on this one and many people feel that because cats are excellent self-groomers it’s not necessary for us as their pet parents to intervene.
If a cat keeps themselves clean, and as long as you groom them regularly to remove excess hair, then there’s no absolute necessity to bathe a cat at all. However, that changes if your cat smells less than fresh, gets dirty, or has certain health problems.
However health issues aside, if you do decide to bathe your cat, you will probably need to do it no more than once or twice per year.
How Do I Bathe My Cat?
Knowing that many cats hate water, this is the next question that might arise. Some cats will have been used to bath time from when they were kittens, and for these, the shock of being doused in water is not so extreme. If your cat has never been bathed before you are going to need to tread carefully and muster up all the patience you can.
Step 1: A cat’s natural reaction when it is frightened of something is to scratch. Therefore it’s a good idea to trim your cat’s claws before you show them to the bathroom.
Step 2: You want your cat to be as relaxed as possible, so spend some time playing with them so they are nice and tired before bath time. This tactic won’t work with every cat, but it’s definitely worth a try.
Step 3: Groom your cat so that you remove as much loose hair as possible. This will help the shampoo to get to work.
Step 4: If you have a rubber mat, place that in the bath so your cat doesn’t slip all over the place, especially if they are nervous and are going to try to climb up the sides of the bath, or let’s be honest all over you, to try to escape. Then fill the bath with a few inches of warm water, checking the temperature carefully, so their paws get a nice wash.
Step 5: Place your cat in the bath and spray them gently with a hose or use a plastic cup to pour the warm water over them. Always avoid their ears, eyes, and nose.
Step 6: Using a cat shampoo massage your cat and then rinse thoroughly. Again always avoid the cat’s face when shampooing and rinsing. You can always wipe their face afterward; just use warm water and a soft cloth.
Step 7: Wrap your cat in a large towel and dry them. You may need to comb out tangles in long-haired breeds. Unless your cat doesn’t mind the noise and airflow, it’s probably best to avoid using a hairdryer.
Step 8: Reward your cat with treats and plenty of praise.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it will depend on the nature of the cat as to how straightforward the process is. If you are aware your cat is probably going to try and fight the process, it’s a good idea to enlist a friend to help you hold the cat and to pass you the shampoo, towel, etc. You know your cat best and what their reaction is likely to be. However, the calmer you can be throughout the process; it’s likely the calmer the cat will be.
Grooming Your Cat
One way to get your cat used to being handled and ready for bath time, and to build your bond with them is to groom them regularly. This is good for all breeds but particularly important for longer-haired cats.
Grooming also has a number of other benefits:
- You can check for ticks and fleas and then if you find any take appropriate action.
- A cat’s fur contains natural oils, and by brushing their coat you distribute it, maintaining a healthy coat and skin
- With longer haired breeds, daily brushing will prevent tangles from becoming larger mats which can be very difficult to remove.
How often you should bathe a cat, depends very much on the nature of your pet and how brave you are. The good news is that unless your cat has certain issues, you are unlikely to need to bathe them more than a couple of times per year. Good news for you, and your cat.