In my own experience, giving my cats a bath has been an exercise in futility, frustration, and also a game to see if I can’t get scratched! Some cat owners I know don’t even bother giving their cat a bath unless it gets really dirty. Some of them give one every 2 months. No matter how you do (or don’t) give your cat a bath, I wanted to give you some of my own personal tips to make the process a little more hassle and scratch free. Before I begin, I don’t think there is one perfect way to bathe a cat, and most likely, there isn’t any secret at all. But again, this is what has worked very well for me, so I hope it helps you too!
Here are some items that you should have on hand:
- Cat shampoo. Don’t use human stuff as it’s a bit too harsh.
- Rubber gloves. These will protect your hands
- A medium sized towel to help dry off your cat.
- A bucket or sink large enough to fit your cat. Personally, I use my sink since you can plug it and you can control the water flow.
Before you even begin to bathe your cat, I really recommend trimming its nails. That is a whole other blog post with its own pitfalls, but I can’t say it enough.
After trimming its nails, you should get your bucket or sink filled with lukewarm or warm water. Not hot water, not cold water. Do not use running water, as this really can scare your cat and make it very stressed out.
There are a lot of people who think you should hold your cat by its scruff when you bathe it - I disagree. You should be instead be holding them by the shoulders. I find that they are more likely to be comfortable this way.
Also, during the bath, try and be quick about it. I know that is easier said than done and it will take you several attempts at it before you really get a hang of the whole process. However, you can minimize the stress and scratches if you don’t give your cat too much time to start getting out of control.
Verbal praises have been extremely helpful for my cat. In general, any type of rewards system can make the whole cleaning process much more simple. It might sound bad, but I really think that Pavlov was on to something with his dogs! Offering a small treat after the bath has made my cat slightly less claw-happy in the whole exchange.
Giving Your Cat A Flea Bath
If you want to give you cat a flea bath, follow all of the steps above, except replace the cat shampoo with a flea shampoo.
There is one other thing you should do before giving your cat a flea bath, and that is by brushing all of its fur to try and dislodge as much as possible.
Finally, you will want to let the shampoo stay in the fur for a bit longer - say 2 to 3 minutes. I know this is going to be tough with an unhappy cat, but it will be a much better experience with a flea-less cat. After you have finished washing off all of the flea shampoo, go ahead and use a flea comb.