Top Tips - How to Bath Your Cat

You may think cats and water do not mix, but as these videos highlight every cat is different! Some even enjoy the sensation of "water" cat grooming, believe it or not! The thought of bathing your cat as part of a regular cat grooming routine can seem quite daunting to most cat owners. Thankfully cats are excellent self-groomers so the prospect of bathing your cat may not arise too often....

Cats can be trained to get used to the sensation of water on their coats, especially if cat grooming baths begin at an early age.

Before bathing a cat it is important to understand that cat skin has a different pH level to human skin so human shampoos are not appropriate for use on cats. There are a plethora of cat shampoos on the market and only pet shampoos formulated specifically for cats should be used. The choice of cat shampoo will depend on the purpose of the bath. For example a flea shampoo to rid the animal of adult fleas; medicated shampoos to aid in the management of skin disease or dryness; cleaning and conditioning shampoos for general maintenance of the coat.

Unless specifically advised by your veterinarian to bathe your cat regularly as an adjunct to treatment of a specific condition, cats do not need to be bathed regularly. Over-bathing of your cat will remove too many of the natural oils in the skin, leading to dry, flaky skin and the possibility of skin irritation from scratching the dry skin.

Cat Grooming - How To...

But how do owners undertake the seemingly impossible cat grooming task of bathing a cat?

A few useful cat grooming tricks will help:

  • Brush the cat with a cat brush prior to the bath to remove excess hair.
  • If the cat is an indoor animal, trimming the claws with cat grooming tools prior to bathing can reduce the risk of the owner being scratched (outdoor animals require their claws as a defence mechanism so this should only be done after consideration).
  • Place an anti-slip mat in the basin to provide traction for the cat.
  • Ensure the water is luke warm for comfort.
  • Keep things quiet, talk calmly and reassuringly to the cat throughout.
  • Wet a washer and use this to introduce the water to the cat's body to acclimatise it to the sensation of a bath. Alternately the cat's body can be wrapped in a towel and then placed in the bath. The towel can then be slowly removed from the cat in the water to allow it to adjust to the sensation of being wet.
  • Do not submerge the cat's head into the water. Again use a washer to clean the head and face regions.
  • Avoid getting water in the ears as this may lead to an ear infection.
  • Ensure that the cat shampoo and cat conditioner is thoroughly rinsed off the cat.
  • Ensure the cat is towel dried well and left to dry completely in a warm environment. Many cats do not tolerate the use of a blow dryer. They may perform their own cat grooming and preening afterwards.

If the above seems way too challenging, pet grooming salons are available to allow cats to be professionally bathed and groomed.  In some cases this may be necessary to protect you and your bathroom!