Keep Your Cat Well-Groomed Between Baths

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How to Bathe a Cat (Part 1): How to Prep A Cat For A Bath

happy fluffy cat laying on his back after a successful bath

Although cats tend to be quite aggressive with their own grooming habits, and that many people will tell you that you don’t need to, you should actually give your cat a bath every so often. Even if they hate it. If you follow the steps in the article below you should be able to give your cat a bath without coming out of the affair covered in scratches.

cat in a bath tub under the shower handle
Even though cats hate getting bathed, they still need a bath sometimes. Photo Courtesy of Cat Vet Tucson.

Do You Really Need to Bathe Your Cat?

Don’t They Bathe Themselves?

The National Cat Groomers of America recommend that you bathe your cat every 4-6 weeks. They recommend you do this in order to prevent your cat’s fur from becoming matted or knotted. However, 4-6 weeks is a recommendation and you should use your own perception to decide how often your cat needs to be getting a bath.

If you have an indoor/outdoor cat for instance your cat may need to be bathed with more frequency. Particularly if they like to get into all kinds of shenanigans that get them dirty while they are outside. Similarly the length of your cat’s hair will play into how often they need to be bathed. A short haired cat is very unlikely to have their hair become matted or knotted so the bath isn’t as much of a concern in that area for them. However, cats with long hair are much more likely for their hair to become knotted so it’s important that you keep their hair well brushed and groomed in order to prevent painful knotts.

You’ll want to decide where to bathe your cat. Usually the sink or the shower are people’s preferred choices.

Why Should You Prepare Your Cat?

The Important Preparation Steps to Take

In my opinion the number one most important thing you can do when you go to bathe your cat is to first trim their nails. Now I can’t recommend doing this the same day as the bath because your cat will quickly get tired of being held in place and groomed. So if you know you are planning to give your cat  a bath, go ahead and trim their nails a day or so in advance.

The reason you are going to want to trim their nails first is because your cat is most likely going to hate being put in water when you are giving them a bath and they are gonna freak out. So if their nails haven’t been trimmed lately they are going to have razor sharp little talons on all of their feet that they will be able to scratch and claw at you with. So even though trimming their nails becomes a whole extra step, trust me your arms will thank you for it.

If you are the kind of pet owner that attaches plastic caps to your cats front nails I also recommend taking the time to do this after trimming their nails but before the bath. Even recently trimmed cat nails can cause scratches and scrapes so there’s nothing wrong with applying the plastic cat nail caps as an extra layer of protection.

Similarly, if you are taking the time to groom your cat a little bit before the bath, it is a good idea to brush their fur out as well. This is helpful a little bit with short haired cats, but it can be enormously beneficial if you have a long haired cat. Taking all of the loose dead hair out of their fur coat before the bath helps make the bath run smoother and helps get the shampoo on the places you want it to be.

Don’t surprise your cat with a bath. Get them used to the bath area first.

Another thing I recommend having ready for your cat is a bowl of their favorite food or some treats. You want to teach them getting a bath is a good thing for them to do. So after the bath you will want to reward them with some food or treats to let them know they did a good job. And I always like to have some towels laid out for my cat to snuggle up on when he is drying off. You want the bath process to be as pleasant as possible for them so be sure to make the after bath time as pleasant as possible.

It's even a good idea to put them in the area you plan on bathing them a couple of times when you are preparing for the bath and give them some treats. Do this without any running water or anything else. You just want the cat to be getting comfortable with being in that place and realizing they will be rewarded for it.

Once you have everything ready for the bath itself it's time to get your cat. But you’ll want to make sure you are getting your cat at the right time. If they are full of energy and ready to play it's going to make giving them a bath much more dramatic. It’s a good idea to wait until they are all curled up and dozed off before you start the bath process. Alternatively, you can always play with them and get them all worn out a little while before you're planning on starting the bath. Either way, make sure your cat is in a relaxed state before you start the bathing process.

It's a good idea to get your cat used to the area where they will be getting a bath by rewarding them with treats or letting them drink from the water source.

Bathing a cat can be a serious chore and if you don’t take the necessary steps it can become a really obnoxious affair. But if you follow the steps in this article you should have your cat ready for a bath and be able to complete the bath itself relatively headache free. For tips on how to successfully bathe your cat after you have them prepped just check out the Fauna Care Article here for more tips and tricks on bathing your cat.

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