How to Bathe Your Cat

Bathing your cat is not strictly speaking necessary, but there are a number of reasons that you may want to consider it. Here are a few precautions to take and some tips that will get you underway.

If you suffer from allergies to your cat, a weekly bath can help to reduce allergens in the coat. You may also have a cat with allergies too, or one that is particularly smelly or inclined to get dirty.

Shampoos and Conditioners

Cats have skin that is half the thickness of human skin. Their skin is very sensitive and has very different needs. You can’t always assume that human products are okay for your pet. Use a good quality and gentle cat shampoo and if your cat is prone to dry skin, greasy skin, frequent skin infections or is itchy, ask your vet which shampoo is best.

Just remember that cats will most likely groom after their bath, so only use products that are safe for cats and avoid anything with tea tree in it. Also be aware that their sense of smell is very acute, so a lovely smelling product will often be very offensive. It may not even be necessary to actually use a shampoo at all, depending on what you are aiming for.

Equipment

Cats can be easily bathed in the laundry sink, a baby bath, the normal bath tub or even the bottom of the shower. Using a non-slip mat can make your pet more secure on the slippery surface. Aim for water that is only slightly warmer than your skin (test with your forearm rather than your fingers). Using a hand-held spray nozzle can provide a gentle massaging effect that some pets love, but otherwise use a jug or cup to pour warm water over the coat.

Also have ready:

  • A few thick towels
  • A brush
  • Nail clippers
  • Cotton wool
  • Face washer
  • Shampoo
  • Treats

Before the bath

  • Play with your cat to expend some energy or chose a time when he is a bit relaxed, but avoid disturbing his rest.
  • If you have a long-haired cat, a quick brush is useful first.
  • Clip his nails, just in case!
  • Place some cotton wool gently in the ears if you think it might get a bit wild. The aim is to stop water going down the ears.

What if your cat hates getting wet?

For cats that hate water and you know the full water-bath is not an option, consider just getting a damp towel, perhaps even with a tiny amount of very dilute shampoo on it for those sticky spots, and rub your feline friend all over. Then get another damp towel to do the ‘rinse’ and then dry with a 3rd towel.

If you are wiping your cat down to reduce the spread of allergens because someone in your home is allergic to cats, this may be all you need to do every 3-7days. Make sure you pay particular attention to the face, where most of the allergens concentrate.

Tricks and tips

  • Keep the lighting pretty dim in the bathroom.
  • Avoid staring your cat directly in the eyes, slowly blink and look away (this is called giving cat kisses and can be very soothing to cats).
  • Utilise some Feliway in the bathroom (plug it in and close the bathroom door for at least an hour prior to the bath).
  • Cats generally love a ‘bum scratch’ just near the base of the tail, if your cat loves this, go very gently and start here with the gentle wetting and massaging.
  • If you have a hand-held spray, it is not really necessary to dunk your cat in a full bathe, just run the water over, starting at the rear and working forward. Always spray in the direction of the hair growth.
  • Keep a hand on your cat at all times.
  • Keep plenty of towels on standby.
  • If all else fails, use Dermoscent spot on instead, it helps improve smell, restore the natural oils to the skin and coat and is great for allergic cats.