As you probably know, most cats aren’t particularly fond of water. They will tightrope walk and leap over puddles to avoid getting their paws wet.
If your feline companion is one of them, follow these simple steps to avoid injury and make sure you give your cat a (relatively) pleasant experience.
Once you have your cat in the sink or bathtub, the last thing you will want to do is leave the scene to get what you need. Instead, make sure you have all necessary items within easy reach beforehand, so you can focus on keeping your cat under control and getting him clean.
Choose a cat-friendly shampoo that will keep your cat’s hair clean and nourish his skin. There are plenty on the market and you should be able to find one that suits your needs at a pet supply store or your local veterinarian’s office. Do not use shampoo meant for human hair, as this can dry out your cat’s skin and potentially be toxic. Once you find a kitty shampoo you like, read the instructions before you use it. Also, keep in mind that some shampoos need to be diluted before using them on your cat.
In addition to shampoos, you will also want to have a brush suited to your cat’s length of hair, a pitcher for clean water to rinse the shampoo off, and an extra helper if you struggle to keep your cat calm by yourself.
BRUSH YOUR CAT
Brushing your cat while his hair is dry helps remove any tangles or knots that may prove harder to get when the hair is wet.
Be sure to choose a brush that is good for your cat’s length of hair -long or short- and brush head to toe before you turn the water on.
PREPARE THE BATHROOM
Before you attempt to bathe your cat, make sure that the bathroom is secure with the door closed. This will keep your cat from escaping mid-bath. Bathing your cat will probably be easier in a bathtub rather than a sink, because there is more room. If your bathtub does not have a non-slip surface on the bottom, you might want to consider placing a rubber mat or towel down.
Play with your cat in the empty tub using a few favorite or special toys. As you play, occasionally add some water. This will tire your cat out and help him associate fun playtime with bath time.
Once your cat is tired and used to the tub, fill the tub with 7–9 inches of water before placing your cat in the water. Fill your pitcher with clean water at this time as well, since running water may frighten your cat.
BATHE YOUR CAT!
Finally, time to bathe your cat! Always speak to your feline companion in quiet, calm tones. If you are calm, your cat is much more likely to be calm as well. As you lower your cat into the water, try not to “fight” your cat. You may have to just start with the paws and legs first, then work up to a full bath another day. Scared cats can do a lot of damage to you and themselves, so do your best to make your cat feel safe and calm. If your cat only wants a few feet in the water at a time, help him keep the back legs in the water while the rest of the body is propped on the edge of the tub.
Once your cat is calm and in the water, start washing from the neck down. Use a small amount of shampoo and water and start massaging from the neck, down the back, underneath the belly and along the legs. While you wash, act like you are petting and grooming your cat. Treat this like it is no different than if you were on the couch petting his back. Oh, and make sure you avoid your cat’s face, eyes and ears with the shampoo!
Rinse your cat using both the water in the tub and the clean water from your pitcher. Pour the water over your feline and massage the soap out. It is very important to rinse out all the shampoo so that nothing is left when your cat licks his fur. If your cat has long fur, this could take a while.
DRY AND PRAISE
Once bath time is over, dry your cat with a clean towel and give him lots of treats and praise. Finally, keep in mind that for long-haired cats it will be a good idea to use a blow dryer in order to speed up the drying process.