Many cats love water. They like to sit in bathroom sinks, certainly, and many are fascinated with running water. Some cats like to hang out in bathtubs, especially in warmer weather. They may perch on the bathtub, demanding a pet or an ear rub before they will let you enter.
But many cats don’t like baths. The reasons vary. Some have simply never been bathed, and the unfamiliar process — and the being confined, even by hands as loving as yours — doesn’t feel right. Others are frightened of the water, or of a closed bathroom door, or the sound of hair dryers, which they may associate with being bathed (or the sound of water).
Some may not have been bathed in the right way previously. It is very important to get all soap off a bathed cat, for example, or it will itch and might cause irritation.
But occasionally, cats may need to be bathed. Cats are naturally very clean animals, who spend part of every day — sometimes a large part — cleaning themselves. But even cats can’t do every job. If they are getting older, they might find reaching every part of themselves difficult to impossible. If they are overweight, ditto.
If you have recently adopted a cat or taken in a stray, they may have fleas. For kittens, the most effective removal method is a bath with mild baby shampoo and picking off the fleas.
Even fastidious cats occasionally get something on them that they can’t get off. If that’s the case, they need to be bathed.
So how can you get your cats to like baths? Here are some tips.
1. Start them young, if possible
Cats that have been bathed as kittens tend to be okay with it. Kittens can be bathed in a bathroom sink, using warm running water and cat shampoo.
2. Stay calm
No matter what happens, stay calm! The calmer you are, the calmer your cat will be able to be. Speak in a soothing voice. Tell them the benefits of a bath — they love to be sittin’ clean and pretty! (They’ll get the gist.)
3. Do It the Right Way
The right way to bath a cat is quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly, with all the necessary items on hand. Never leave your cat waiting while you go look for the right kind of soap or a towel! Respect their needs for warmth and security.
Place a towel in the bottom so they get firm footing. If your cat has been bathed before and is reasonably comfortable with it, go for some floating toys to make them comfortable.
The water should be warm and never too deep for the cat to feel frightened. Cat shampoo is best. Don’t shampoo their faces — use a washcloth after the bath. Quickly lather the body and rinse. Don’t scrub! Don’t get in ears, either.
Towel dry thoroughly and then use a hair dryer. Cats need to be dried after bathing unless you have a really warm place for them to sit. It’s best to keep the hair dryer on cool and low. Cool reduces the chances of it being uncomfortably hot. Low lessens potential fright from the noise.
4. Keep the Bathroom Door Shut
Really. Cats are limber and cats are quick. If they don’t like the bath (and even if they do), they can make a beeline for the door so fast your head will spin.
5. Take Your Cat to a Groomer Regularly
Although cats are championship groomers, having them groomed regularly is a great idea. If they are long haired, grooming reduces any chance of tangles. They love grooming activities, so taking them to experienced cat groomers will be a pleasant experience for both you and your cat. Groomers can also trim their claws and perform other care that some owners find difficult or are not confident in.
You may get your cat to like baths. Even if you don’t, bathing is occasionally necessary. Follow the above tips for the best results. Contact us for more information.