Cats typically keep themselves clean, but even a cat that cleans herself obsessively may need a bath sometimes. Cats with long fur, those that cannot reach every part of their body to keep clean, and cats with skin conditions all may need regular baths. If your cat gets fleas, or is ever covered in a toxic substance, they will not be able to lick themselves clean.
What You’ll Need to Bathe Your Cat
Collect everything you need for bathing your cat before you scoop your kitty into the sink or bathtub. If you turn around for just a moment to grab the shampoo, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself chasing a wet cat around the bathroom.
In most cases, a gentle cat shampoo made with natural ingredients is appropriate. Look for a formula with a calming scent like lavender. Do not use human shampoo, or even dog shampoo. Cats are sensitive to essential oils, sulfates, and other ingredients that may be present in products designed for other species.
If you’re bathing your cat to get rid of fleas, use a flea shampoo made for cats. Dish soap is a popular home remedy, but it can be harshly drying to a cat’s skin.
You will also need a way to rinse your cat. A cup or a sink hose with a gentle setting will work.
Place a nonslip mat or towel on the bottom of the sink or tub to ensure your cat does not lose their footing.
A thick, soft towel (or a few) can be used to dry your cat afterwards. There’s no need to use a hair dryer, which can burn your cat’s skin, and will probably scare them even more after a potentially stressful bath. Any moisture that you cannot dry off with a towel, your cat will be able to lick away with her tongue.
You may also want a volunteer. It’ll be much easier to have one person hold the cat while the other washes.
Wash Your Cat, Step by Step
First, close the bathroom door.
Then, brush your cat to remove any dirt, twigs or debris. It’s easier to brush out tangles and mats while the fur is dry.
You may also want to trim your cat’s nails before the bath to reduce injury if they do become fearful and scratch you.
Then, gently place your cat in the tub or sink. Avoid turning the water on at full blast, or making any other sudden or loud movement or sound that can startle the cat.
Using a cup or a hose, dampen your cat gradually, starting with their legs, then their back, stomach and neck. Avoid wetting their face to avoid getting water in the eyes or ears.
Lather up your cat with feline shampoo, gently massaging it into the skin to remove any oils that rest on the skin, beneath the fur. Wash your cat by lathering in the direction of their fur, with loving, calming strokes, just as you normally pet your cat.
Take your time fully rinsing your cat. Any shampoo that remains on the skin could have a drying effect and make your cat itchy.
Use a towel to wrap your cat and carefully lift them out of the tub or sink. Your cat may be tempted to flee before you get a chance to dry them…you closed that bathroom door, right?
Alternatives to Bathing Your Cat
If your cat screams bloody murder every time you try to bathe them, or if they scratch so much you may be in danger of needing a blood transfusion, it’s better to avoid bathing. You can use a no-rinse cat cleanser or cleaning wipes to eliminate odor and help remove oiliness, along with brushing to remove dry residue.
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