Does your cat need a bath? Most cats are self cleaning, and don't usually need much bath time, but every so often, it may be a necessary chore. If you have a outside cat, that likes to get under porches, or cars, or just loves to roll in dirt (ours did!) then expect to be able to roll around on your bed after, then a cats bath maybe in order!
Or if your cat has a horrible time with fleas, a cat flea bath may be in order. There are a few things you can do to get started. The best thing is to have all your supplies lined up ahead of time. Try and anticipate the problems.
Have your shampoo open and ready, maybe even in a small cup measured out, so you don't try and pour on too much while restraining your cat.
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Make sure it is right after going to the litter box, and also take the time to brush your cat to get rid of debris and lose dirt. No point in rubbing it in during the bath. This will relax him, as most cats like to be brushed.
Make sure you are well rested, and prepared for this and the loud cries that your cat may let out in dismay!
This type of chore is not going to be pleasant. Unless you did this with your cat as a kitten, as most cats are not impressed at all with water.
A good tip to follow, (this is experience speaking!) trim your cats nails. Believe me, no matter how close you and your cat are, claws come out at whoever is trying to dunk him in the water. Best if you can trim them before hand.
Find a basin or a large sink, and place a towel in the bottom of the sink. This gives your cat something to sink its claws into rather than you!. If you have a double sink, then you may be able to get through this chore quicker. You can wash him in the one sink, and have the other ready and full of the rinse water. Just like you are doing your hand washing. Put a bit of vinegar or lemon juice in the rinse water, this helps to cut out the shampoo quicker.
This is also better done as a two person project. You may be shaking your head, and thinking the cat is 8 pounds, how hard can this be?. Do I really need an army of people for one little cat? You will find out very quickly just how much a 8 pound cat hates water, never mind shampoo and being messed with.
Always use a shampoo specific for cats, don't use dog shampoo as it can be hazardous to your cat, since she will lick her fur afterwards, and dog shampoos can be toxic to a cat.
Don't use your human shampoo either, not even baby shampoo, it is best if you use shampoo for your cat.
Many cats, for obvious reasons, don't like being dunked into the water. A good way to start out, especially if this is the first time for your kitty, is to have jugs of warm water ready and the shampoo open. Grab your kitty by the scruff of the neck, and support him at the chest and lower him into the sink onto the folded towel you have there, and then proceed to get him wet with the jugs of water.
One person can hold the cat, and the other can pour and lather. Don't loosen your grip too much on the scruff or you will have one soapy cat tearing around your house, freaking and leaving a wet shampoo trail behind, then try and find him! He will head to the dirtiest point of the house, such as under the basement stairs, collecting debris and spider webs along the way! (been there, done that!)
So, make sure you lock the door in whatever room you have chosen. If it is the kitchen sink then make sure there is no escape and your counters are clear of breakables!
If you have managed so far to get him wet and lathered, then take a face cloth to use around his face. Now rinse your kitty, really well. When you think you have rinsed enough, do one more. Any shampoo left behind, will leave a dull look to your kitty's coat.
Now that you are finished, lift him onto a big fluffy towel, and do your best to dry him. He is probably planning his escape by now, totally mortified by what has just happened to him. He will go off and sulk somewhere. So, pick a warm room for him to dry in that he can't get out of, for now. You can then pamper him with some treats.
If your cat is long haired, you can also use a hairdryer, but this might be pushing it right? Some cats don't mind the hairdryer, but most will have had enough of the bath. So, just make sure you use a big absorbent fluffy towel, and get him as dry as possible.
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Once he is dry, and calm, bring some more treats and the brush and give him a good brushing. He should start purring and forget about his horrible ordeal earlier, and smell great and feel soft. Remember he will groom himself his way as well, he will want to put his own scent back on himself!. This is OK, just remember this is why you need to use cat specific products.
Don't let him outside, and make sure the house is warm and draft free. Cats can get sick easily if they are left in drafty areas all wet.
If having a cats bath, is just too traumatic for your cat, or he is older or sick, then check out the pet supply aisles. There are many dry shampoo products as well as wet wipes, that can do a good job too.
When I first got my cat, she came from a heavy smokers house. Her fur was downright greasy from nicotine. Horrible. She of course ingested it as well. So, I didn't want to traumatize her further with a wet bath, I purchased those wet wipes for cats, and my daughter and I gave her a "wet wipe cat bath". She liked it, as it was attention, and then we gave her a good brushing. Not only did she smell better, but her coat just shone!
Cat Wipes are another Alternative to the Bath
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So, if you are faced with having to give a cats bath, then follow the above tips, and also experiment with some other products that can avoid dunking your cat in water.
Sometimes you just have to get them wet, especially if they really have embedded dirt or a bad flea problem, but if you get organized first, and anticipate any problems, then you should end up with a happy clean cat, and hopefully only one room to clean afterwards!