How to bathe a cat…

For some reason, there isn’t a massive amount of information about how to bathe a cat. But that doesn’t mean your feline friend doesn’t need the occasional bit of help.

Despite their justified reputation for fastidious grooming and cleanliness, environmental conditions can result in a lot of cats getting very sticky, dirty coats. In short,  cat spit plus dust plus pollen = glue.

Cats only have little tongues to clean themselves with, resulting in sore mouths and sneezing, so a lot of them will need some help from you.

Even after a good downpour or the changing of the seasons, when the dust has been largely washed down the drain, it is the stuff indoors, and the resurgence of plants with sticky pollen that are going to cause the next wave of sore mouths.

cat-bathThe answer is – Bathe your cat – REALLY. Dr Kim is finding that she is having to do more ’emergency bathings’ than ever.

If you do not have or cannot get some proper cat shampoo (remember their skin is different), then Baby Shampoo, Morning Fresh Detergent or Sunlight Soap (all Unscented and especially not lemon scented) will do. They take the oil out of the cat’s fur and make them take much longer to dry, but otherwise the cats will be fine.

There are 3 secrets –

  1. Use VERY WARM water (Dr Kim can wash a cat in cold water but you’ve got to be strong and quick to get away with it!).  “Hand Hot” rather than lukewarm.  You will be pouring it over your own hands, so make sure it is not too hot!
  2. Do not RAIN on the cat – use a jug of water to dampen the coat, or hold the shower spray CLOSE to their bodies especially when rinsing (although you can ‘dunk’ a cat in a bucket of water if you lower it in back feet first but it is harder to wash and rinse them.. Do not let the water come over their feet – leave the plug out of the sink and put a rubber mat or towel in the basin for less slip.
  3. Wash with 2 people the first time – one to push the cat firmly DOWN on the shoulders (scruff) and bum (if they get up and onto their back legs, you’ve lost them). Wash in 2 goes – the first to dampen and use the shampoo to get through the ‘glue’ or the water repellent natural coat oils. The second to get the shampoo right down to the skin and remove the irritants. Very useful if owners allergic as well – the cat allergen is actually water soluble anyway. and really itchy cats will go and sit in the bath by themselves after a few washes – they learn it feels good. You really only need a fairly rough towel dry – even if the day is a bit cool. If the cat is healthy, once it starts licking itself, their coat dries like magic (what is IN cat spit?). Wiping the cat’s coat with a warm damp cloth daily works as maintenance between washes.

And remember – cats rub their faces on everything to say ‘mine mine mine’, so that area is very prone to connecting with irritants.

If your cat is not eating, or is showing signs of baldness or other irritation, then obviously they need to come and see Dr Kim.  Otherwise – Good Luck with REALLY BATHING A CAT. And if it is all TOO MUCH – then book your cat in to our Feline Fine Grooming salon for us to groom! Phone 9417 6613 for an appointment