25 February 2007

Bath Time: A Guide to Bathing a Cat

I am allergic to cats and dogs. It is difficult for me to spend time in the homes of others who have pets. People are always surprised by this since I have cats myself. But here is my secret...

Most people are not allergic to the cat or dog itself. What they are allergic to is the dander, pollen, dust and so on that accumulates on the animal's fur. Especially in the case of animals that regularly go outside.

I avoid all this by doing two things.
1. My cats are indoor only cats in order to limit their exposure to allergens.
2. I routinely give them baths to remove the dander that accumulates.

Yes, you read that correctly. I bathe my cats. Every cat I have ever had has had regular baths since kittenhood. I always know when the next bath is due because my eyes start itching and watering. Generally I bathe Max and Tilly about once a month.

And now you too can bathe your cat based upon these simple instructions:

In order for the process to go as smoothly as possible, you must first prepare the bath area.

Start by selecting a cat shampoo at your local pet supply store. Animals have a different pH balance in their skin. Using shampoo intended for a person can cause dry skin and irritation. I use a shampoo I brought from the United States that comes complete with a hairball remedy in the formula. If you do not have this kind of shampoo, I would suggest you purchase a separate hairball remedy.

Pet shampoo is available in Europe as well. I found some at Qualipet in Switzerland, but it did not come with the hairball remedy already in it.

On the day of the bath, prepare your house. If it is a cool day, turn up the heat slightly. Your cats will be cold when wet. Also, remove access to the litter box, especially if you have clumping litter, until your cat is completely dry. Trust me on this!

Next lay out some large, fluffy, very absorbent towels next to the bath location. As we have two cats, I always have two bath towels ready to go.

The final preparation is to ready the bath. I use the kitchen sink as it uses the least amount of water and suds necessary. Very important consideration if there is a struggle as less water equals less mess. I thoroughly clean the sink both before and after the bath.

Fill the sink with warm water. It should be slightly warmer than room temperature, but not hot. Squirt some shampoo directly into the water as it is pouring to create suds.

Once the bath is ready, carefully lower the cat into the sink. I suggest doing it quickly so they have less time to react.

Scoop up handfuls of water and suds and massage into your cat all over except the face and ears.

At this stage your cat may begin to emit sounds you have never heard before. Do not worry. Despite the cat's belief, this process will not kill them.

After you have finished shampooing the body, take small amounts of water (no suds) in your hand and carefully wash the face and around the ears. Make certain you do not put water directly into the cat's eyes or ears.

Lift the cat out of the water with one hand while the other hand slicks as much of the water and suds off as possible. Rinsing the cat is not necessary as long as you have used a shampoo formulated for cats.

Lay the cat down on the towel and quickly wrap it up as if swaddling a baby.

When you are finished, only the cat's face should be visible. Hold your cat this way for a few minutes to absorb as much of the water into the towel as possible.

Then unwrap the cat slightly and use the drier end of the towel to rub him/her until the cat is more damp than wet.

Let him/her down on the floor so s/he can begin the arduous licking process.
At this time it is permissible to laugh as the cat awkwardly walks away, trying desperately to find it's dignity.

The cat will immediately find a quiet spot and lick him/herself all over until it is satisfied that s/he has removed all trace of the offensive shampoo (and hairball remedy!)
When it is mostly dry, give your cat a thorough brushing. The shampooing process will have slightly dislodged a lot of hair, giving the cat an odd, scruffy appearance. Brushing the fur will remove most of that hair, thus restoring the cat's appearance and hopefully preventing excessive shedding all over your furniture. If your cat has a very thick coat of fur, it may need a second brushing an hour or so later.
A special thanks to Max and Tilly, our somewhat unwilling volunteers in the demonstration process. Thanks also to GLH who took the photographs.


Achoo said...

Effect on dignity aside, they seem to be accepting of ther fate. Well, Max (or is it Tilly?) seems a big upset, but he may just be thinking you're failing to get his good side.

Same Guy said...

Why don't people proof-read their comments before posting them?

CanadianSwiss said...

If I tried that with my cat, I'd end up looking as if I had gone through a shredder!

Global Librarian said...

Max (orange tabby) and Tilly (brown tabby-calico mix) have gotten baths since they were 8 weeks old. They are accustomed to them.

Tilly hates them and struggles throughout the bath to get out. There is a constant caterwauling.

Fortunately, Max doesn't mind getting a bath. Max is bigger and stronger. If he struggled, I probably wouldn't be able to bathe him.

No fear of shredding. Both cats are declawed. We were able to bring them into Switzerland because the declawing took place more than 3 months before we moved.

super hero said...

with all my respect, i dont see a good in forcing animals out of their own nature for the sake of keeping them. cats dont bathe, because they can get ill easily for that. and cats shouldnt be declawed. this must be the worst thing happening to a cat.

Anonymous said...

Hi you have gorgeous cats. wish them a long and happy life:) wanted to add some comment from my experience owning a cat for 20 years.

1- your idea of what you have alergy is wronge. what people have alergy is CAT'S SALVIA. and because cat lick himself constantly when grooming himself, his body will be covered with his salvia all over. after one month or so that u mentioned, the amount of salvia on your cat will reach a rate that your body cant tolerate anymore and reacts.

2- not a good idea to finish the bath with still soapy water. It makes them ichiness and they will scrach themselve more after to get rid of ichiness. Final rinse is VERY important to wash of all the shampoo out of cat's body.

Thanks and good luck

Anonymous said...

i dont see a good in forcing animals out of their own nature for the sake of keeping them. cats dont bathe, because they can get ill easily for that....Thanks for posting...
Anna- Designer PetLine Cat Shampoo