Tip of the Month

3/26/2012 Bathing Your Cat

Just because cats bathe themselves daily does not mean that you do not need to give them an occasional bath. A short or long coated cat will benefit from a bath at least a couple times a year. A bath can help cut down on shedding, reduce the dander that affects people with allergies, cut down on the amount of hair ingested that causes hairballs, and remove fleas. In addition, if your cat is ill or has soiled herself you may need to help her out with a bath, especially if she has long hair.

If your cat is excessively matted, you will have to take her to a groomer to be shaved. Mats are very uncomfortable and will have to be removed professionally. Mats will only tighten with bathing so do not try to bathe them out yourself.

If you have a kitten, it is a good idea to let her become familiar with water as soon as possible. When introduced early, your kitten will likely learn to love water as part of her grooming routine. Some cats even will climb into the tub with you if the “fear” of water is eliminated at an early age.

To bathe your cat at home, begin by collecting everything that you will need. You will need at least two absorbent towels, a washcloth, paper towels, a gentle cat shampoo or baby shampoo, a squirt bottle or cup, and a hand dryer. Depending on your cat’s temperament, you may need another person for additional help.

Use a sink that is large enough for your cat, hopefully in a room that can be closed off. The kitchen sink will be best, especially if you have a nozzle with a gentle flow. Have one towel folded in half lying nearby on the counter.

Fill the sink half full with warm (never hot) water. A rubber sink mat will help with scratching the sink and keeping your kitty in the tub. Be sure to keep your hands on your kitty at all times and look for signs that she is going to try to escape so you can prevent this. All movements should be smooth and you should remain calm at all times.

Carefully, put kitty in the water and gently wet her down. Be careful not to spray water directly in her eyes or ears. The squirt bottle or cup filled with water is a gentle way to rinse and add water. Apply the shampoo with a gentle but firm all over massage to help relax kitty. Use the washcloth to wash and rinse her face. Open the drain to remove the soapy water. Rinse all shampoo from your kitty’s coat and reapply shampoo only if excessively dirty.

Before drying, use your hands to smooth off as much water as you can. Take kitty from the sink and place her on the towel. Use the other towel to wrap kitty and absorb as much water as possible. Turn on the hand dryer on a low speed to help the cat become accustom to the sound. At first have the dryer away from the cat and then move it closer. If your cat is not tolerating the hand dryer, you may have to just let her air dry in a warm room.

After a few baths, your kitty will become accustomed to the baths and learn that the experience it not bad.

NOTE: When bathing a cat infested with fleas, you will need to wet around the cat’s neck before placing in the tub and apply a cat safe natural non-toxic flea shampoo, so the fleas will not migrate to the cat’s head and ears. Then place kitty in the sink of water. Let the water drain several times to wash the fleas down the drain. You may need assistance with this bath.

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