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Surviving Your Cat’s First Bath

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Felines may seem like the ultimate self-groomers but sometimes they get into a bit of mud outside, or mimic a dirty mop after chasing dust bunnies all over the house. That’s where you, the cat parent, come in.

Though many felines hate water, these handy tips can help you and your furry family member survive bath time without a scratch.

Find the right spot

A bathroom or kitchen sink may be the perfect spot to bathe a kitten. If your cat is larger, a utility sink or bathtub can work well. You’ll need to hold onto your feline from different angles so make sure there’s enough space for her to move around, but not too much. You don’t want to completely confine your feline.  

Sprayers rule, so if you have one, use it to make wetting and rinsing your cat much easier.

 

Get ready

Be sure everything is set up ahead of time in case your cat comes down with the fussies.

1) Fill the sink or tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Your cat might be fuzzy but her skin is more sensitive to hot and cold than human flesh so tepid water works best. If you don’t have a hose or sprayer, grab a large plastic cup to help wet and rinse your cat.

Once the bath is drawn, submerge a towel at the bottom so your feline doesn't slip.

2) Get your feline shampoo ready. Human shampoos with dyes and sulfates can be harmful to cats. Stick to a natural cat shampoo or you can even use a gentle dish soap, like Dawn®.

3) Grab lots of towels. As soon as your feline senses bath time is done, she might make a run for it. Keep several towels nearby to wrap your sopping-wet ball of fur in and dry her off. Sometimes a blow dryer on the coolest setting is an easy alternative but only if your cat tolerates it well.

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Time to get wet

Comb your feline thoroughly before you put her in the bath water to be sure she gets a deep clean. It’s especially important to get rid of any mats in the hair. Think of it as pampering spa time for your cat, which may help her relax.

Then take your cat to the water. Hold her far out in front of you in case she tries to claw her way out of the water. There might be lots of squirms and meowing, but you can soothe her with encouraging words or even her favorite tunes on the stereo.

Keep your fingers on your cat’s chest for control and wrap your thumb under her shoulder blades. If she’s too big for this maneuver, press gently on her shoulders and be ready to grab her by the scruff if she starts squirming.

Once you have control, use the sprayer or cup to thoroughly wet your cat from the neck down. Grab the shampoo and squeeze a good amount on her back with your free hand. Start to lather and scrub it in, careful to get every area for a thorough cleaning. Cover her chest, legs, paws, and tail, adding more shampoo as needed.

After your cat is all lathered up, use a washcloth dipped in bathwater to gently wash her head, face and neck. Ready to rinse? Be sure the shampoo residue is rinsed off well or it can irritate your feline’s skin and be a dirt magnet. Even mild soap can cause issues if it’s left on too long.

Terry towel heaven

Grab one of the towels you have on hand to wrap around and dry off your cat. It’s okay if she’s a bit damp as she scoots off. Before she does, try to run a comb through her fur to make sure no snarls remain, especially if she has a longer coat.

Cleaning your cat may not be easy, but if you’re patient, calm and reward her with yummy Blue Buffalo® cat treats after, she may just look forward to the next bath time.