How to Bathe a Cat (Part 2): Bath Time

Posted on
August 19, 2021
cat wrapped in a purple towel after getting a bath
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If you’ve already completed all the steps from our How to Prep A Cat for A Bath article then you are in the right place. If not, be sure to check out the article to make sure you have followed all the important steps to get your cat all ready for a bath.

But if you don’t have the time right now, just be sure to trim your cat’s nails before you start the bath. This is the number one recommended tip to avoid your arms coming out covered in scratches.

Now That The Cat Is Ready For A Bath...

Make Sure The Bath is Ready For A Cat  

So once your cat has their nails clipped and their hair brushed and everything else they are finally ready for the actual bath itself. The first thing you’ll want to do is get the water temperature at the right level. You’ll want it to feel warm to you but don’t want it to be too cold or too hot. Not only will that irritate and surprise your cat, it is also going to make your job more difficult when your cat reacts to the wrong temperature and begins to flail and freak out.

And as such you will also want to provide some traction for your cat. This can be done by laying out a towel in the bottom of the sink or by using a bath mat if you are bathing them in a tub. Either way it will help keep your cat more comfortable and calm if they don’t feel like they are slipping and sliding in the bath the entire time.

fluffy orange cat in a cat-sized claw foot bath tub
Be sure you have picked an area to bathe your cat where you and them will both have enough room to do the job comfortably. Photo Courtesy of World’s Best Cat Litter.

The next thing you’ll want to do is start the bath itself. So now that you have the water ready and some traction for your cat you need to get them into the water itself and this is where things get tricky because cats tend to hate being in water. If you’ve tried before and were unable to bathe your cat on your own, it's a good idea to have a helper there who can give you a hand when your cat inevitably tries to escape. Even if you haven’t bathed your cat before, it is still a good idea to have a helper around, but it is not entirely necessary if you don’t have anyone available to assist you.

Tips for The Bath Itself

How to Best Bathe A Cantankerous Cat

Once you have the cat in the sink/bath you can begin actually bathing them. But be sure to use a cat shampoo for them. Do not rely on any type of human soap or shampoo or soaps for other pets such as dogs. Not all shampoos are nontoxic to cats so be sure to use one that is specifically made to be safe for your pet.

The method I find the most useful is to put my cat in the sink with the water at temperature and then use a cup or glass to pour the water over him instead of just trying to force him under the stream of running water. So take a cup or bowl and fill it with the temperate water and pour it over your cat. Once you have their fur thoroughly wet you can begin using the shampoo on them. This should be done pretty much the same way you do to a human. Lather then rinse.

But you will want to be careful and not get any soap into your pets eyes, nose, mouth, or ears. So in general avoid putting soap and water over their face. Not only will they hate it, they will also freak out and scratch at you for it. Or at least they will in my experience. So if you need to clean their face just take a damp rag and rub them down with it. Don’t pour running water over their nose and mouth.

slightly annoyed wet cat getting a bath
It's best to avoid your cats eyes, ears, nose, and mouth when you are bathing them. Photo Courtesy of Preventive Vet.

Be sure that you thoroughly rinse them in order to avoid any type of accidental skin irritation or dandruff and then start drying them off. Your cat is going to want to do most of their drying off on their own but you can take and wrap them up in a towel and get a large amount of the water off of them right away.

Finally once they are all bathed and dried off the best you can, it's a great time to put them somewhere comfortable with a towel and some treats. This will give them time to privately dry off their way and also reward them for taking a bath. It's important to reward them for taking a bath because that way they will begin to associate the  bath with treats and rewards and hopefully this will make them more cooperative during future bath times. After all, if they know a bath means treats for them, there is at least a silver lining to the scenario for them.

Between Baths

Caring for Your Cat's Coat Between Cleanings

Cats shouldn't be over bathed, but sometimes your furry friend might need cleaned up between baths. Whether they've been getting into all of the dusty corners of your home, decided to rub up against something sticky in the kitchen, or are all around looking a bit scruffy, there are easy ways to keep your cat clean and looking its best without going through the trouble of a full bath.

Make sure to invest in a good grooming brush -- it will help get any tangles out of your furry friend's coat which may be causing them discomfort. It's also a good idea to invest in a specially formulated grooming spray that protects and conditions your cat's fur and skin. With these two essentials in your toolkit, you can keep your cat looking and feeling great as well as cut down on the number of baths your kitty needs overall.

happy cat snuggled up with a towel after a bath
Put your cat somewhere comfortable with a towel so they can take some time to dry off in private.

In a few hours after they have had plenty of time to get completely dried off, don’t be surprised if they turn into a little snuggle bug for the rest of the day. My cat never appreciates being bathed but absolutely loves the feeling of his fur being clean. So he often spends the rest of the time being unusually affectionate after he has had time to get over being mad about his bath. Hopefully if you follow these steps your cat will do the same after you bathe them. But even if they don’t, at least they will be nice and clean the next time you pick them up.

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Posted on
August 19, 2021
in
Advice
category

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