You may not realise it, but your cat spends up to 50% of their waking hours cleaning themselves. So it’s not completely ridiculous to think that they don’t need extra help grooming, washing and cleaning themselves. The truth is, while it isn’t absolutely essential to frequently wash your cat, it’s super important that you’re paying attention to their hygiene.
An unkempt cat is potentially an unhealthy cat. Once you notice your cat isn’t taking care of themselves it should be time to make an appointment with a vet to make sure everything is ok.
Generally speaking, your cat won’t need frequent bathing, they already spend sufficient time caring for themselves. This being said, when your cat has got themselves into a sticky situation (literally) or has found their way into mud or dirt, giving them a bath is a good idea to ensure they stay clean.
Starting Them Young
As with many learned behaviours, it’s so important to familiarise your cat with the concept of b-a-t-h time from an early age. Consider giving them short baths on occasion when they are young if you want to get into the routine of bathing them down the track.
Break it into stages
To make it easy for you to navigate bath time, visualise the experience and prepare well in advance.
Before the bath
Make sure you’ve got the right gear before even thinking about bath time. The most annoying feeling is the one you get when you’re ready to cook dinner then realise you’re missing one crucial ingredient. It’s the same with bathing your cat – you’ll have picked the right day, set aside time to wash them, so imagine finding out you have no shampoo just as you’re getting everything ready.
Bathing a Cat
It’s important to keep your cat calm while they’re in the bath. Being bathed isn’t a natural experience for cats – in the wild they’d rely on their own personal hygiene upkeep. Make bath time part of your grooming routine so it becomes familiar to them. If you can, wash them in an area they spend most of their time in. This will encourage them to feel safe in an area they recognise and make bath-time far less stressful overall.
You will need:
- Large bucket, sink or bath.
- Measuring jug
- Cat shampoo
- Warm water (not too hot or too cold)
- Face washer or cloth
Fill the bucket, sink or bath with warm water. Keep the water levels relatively low – you don’t want your cat to be chin deep in water. Slowly introduce your cat to the water. If you’ve got a hold of them, gradually lower them into the water. Let them acclimatise gradually to the temperature of the water.
Once they’re in the water, use the jug to spread the water from tail to neck. You will need to use a face washer or cloth to wash their face though – be gentle when cleaning around their ears, whiskers, nose and eyes. It requires a very delicate approach to avoid getting soap in sensitive areas. Massage in a small amount of shampoo into their fur, enough to make a soapy lather. It’s important to rinse out all the soap thoroughly.
Who doesn’t love a beautiful, fluffy towel to dry off with after a bath? Your cat is just the same – they will want to snuggle up in a nice warm towel straight away.
Lots and lots of positive reinforcement is the key here. By praising them for their obedience during bath time, they’ll learn quickly how you want them to behave while they’re being washed. Reward them with a treat and try not to disrupt them for a little while after bath time. This will give them plenty of time to consolidate their new experience.