Giving a cat a bath...
Though you likely wouldn’t put the words “cat” and “bath” together in the same sentence (unless it also included the word “never!”), bathing a cat can be done – some actually like it, and sometimes it's a necessity.
Why might you have to bathe a cat?
Since most cats, in most situations, are quite fastidious in their grooming practices there aren’t many reasons why you’d need to bathe your cat. However, there are a few scenarios where you might find yourself needing to do so.
- Ringworm — This is actually a fungus, rather than a worm. Depending on the severity of your cat’s case, and some other factors, your vet may prescribe medicated baths.
Cats may need a bath if:
- They have ringworm
- They have a flea infestation
- They have something stuck on their coat
- They are obese or arthritic
- And some just love it. So pamper away!
- Flea infestations — Baths aren’t typically necessary for cats with fleas, as most of the newer flea treatments will kill fleas very quickly. That said, in very bad infestations and in cats with flea allergies, baths may be beneficial and even necessary.
- Need to get something off their coat — examples include pyrethrin/permethrin flea killing products (which can cause devastating tremors), motor oil or gasoline, antifreeze, potpourri, tree sap, and others.
- Obese cats or arthritic cats — These cats may be unable to groom themselves properly and fully, and so may need occasional baths to keep their coat and skin healthy. Arthritic cats may even appreciate the bath, as the warm water and the massage of lathering the shampoo can actually feel quite good.
To bathe your cat it’s important to get all supplies ready first and have a plan.
- You’ll need some tasty treats that your helper can use to reward (and bribe) your cat with, a pitcher or detachable shower head, pet-specific shampoo, and plenty of towels.
- Using your sink or a laundry basket/Rubbermaid tub in your bathtub, lay down a towel, non-slip bath mat, or even a cut up yoga mat so your cat won’t freak out as a result of a slippery surface.
- Partially fill (just a few inches) with warm water (not too hot).
- Gently place and hold your cat there while your helper uses the pitcher to get your cat’s coat wet.
- Lather with pet-specific shampoo (your vet may prescribe a specific one, especially if the bath is necessary for medical reasons - like ringworm)
- Thoroughly rinse the shampoo off using the pitcher or shower head (use a low flow rate so as not to scare your cat).
- Thoroughly dry your cat using a series of towels. Don’t use a blow dryer unless your cat is already accustomed to it... or unless you don’t value the skin on your arms and face.
I think this video is quite good in explaining all the steps of how to bathe a cat and you can't go wrong with two adorable cat models. Of course, if all this sounds too much, you can also just take your cat to your vet or a professional groomer :-)