Bathing your cat without getting scratched to shreds!

Is it possible to bathe your cat and not get scratched to bits? Of course! Now it is much easier if you start when your cat is a kitten and basically train them to accept the water. Older cats can be bathed too though. Although your cat doesn't realize it right now, after some tender loving care and a little shampoo, he will appreciate it.

Cat getting a bath with shower head

Why would you want to bathe a cat? Well, they can get dirty and can become flea infested just like a dog, so they do need a bath in these instances. Sure a cat bathes themselves and most of the time that is sufficient. If your cat happens to get into something like car grease (walking or sleeping under a car) paint, any chemicals or pretty much anything they get into that you don't want them licking off their fur.

How to bathe your cat without getting scratched

Sometimes, you’ll just have to do it. The key is to not bathe your cat more than once a month as you will damage his skin and his fur if you do so more than that. Occasional baths are perfectly fine for cats though!

Clip the cats nails. 

Even a cat that likes water can accidentally scratch you during a bath. To prevent getting cut, clip your cats nails before attempting to bathe them. If your cat gets upset by nail clipping, do it the day before the bath.

Assemble the supplies

To do the task, you’ll need some supplies. The very least you will need are two cloth towels, a pet safe shampoo and conditioner, a sponge and cup or pitcher of warm water to rinse with. You should have a non skid mat inside the tub as well to help your cat feel better about standing in the water.  

A scared cat is hard to control. So, if you plan to wash him in the tub, make sure to shut the door before starting. This keeps the cat from getting distracted by anything going on outside the room and also to keep him from getting out into the rest of the house if he jumps out of the tub.

Bathing the cat

Put the nonslip mat at the bottom of the sink or tub. Add about two or three inches of warm water to the bottom and carefully place the cat in. Talk to him quietly and reassure him that he’s okay. More than likely, he’ll settle down within a few minutes. Now that he’s calm, you can wet him down. Use a cup to gently pour water over him. Don't use a sprayer, because it will scare him. 

A word of warning, do not pour water on his head. You’ll clean his face later.

Now that he’s wet, squeeze a palm sized amount of shampoo and massage the shampoo into his coat. Use slow, calm motions and he’ll relax and maybe even will enjoy it. Once he is lathered, you’ll need to rinse him off.  Use the cup or pitcher again, pouring water over him till it runs clean. Make sure to get all of the shampoo out of his coat as anything left on him will irritate his skin.

Next, do the same with the cat’s conditioner. This step is optional if the cat has short hair. Allow to set just a minute then make sure you rinse all the conditioner out of the cat's fur. Cat's groom themselves and you wouldn't want him to ingest conditioner if it didn't rinse out.

Once his body is clean, it is time to do his face.  Dampen a sponge or washcloth and use it to carefully wipe down his face. Pay attention to the area around his eyes too. Check under her chin as dirt left here can cause chin acne.

After The Bath

Now that she’s done, wrap her up in the towels and blot off as much of the water as possible from her body. Use a dry towel as a second blotting tool. Now, she’ll finish the job herself, but you might want to lay a fresh towel on her favorite lounging spot...just in case! 

For those who have a long haired cat, you can use a blow dryer at the very lowest setting if you keep it continuously moving so that you do not burn her. Now, you have a clean cat and hopefully no wound marks to show from it.

Treat time!

Reward your cat for a bath well done! A few treats or a can of her favorite food will help her see the experience as a positive one.

Kitten taking bath

Training a kitten to love bath time

Start when your kitten is small. Put a little bit of lukewarm water in the tub, just enough to almost cover the bottom. Leave some dry space at the far end. Turn the water off. Grab a piece of string or a small cat ball. Place the kitten in the dry side of the tub and put the toy in with her. 

Bat the toy in and out of the water and play with the kitten for about 15 minutes. Let her go in and out or the water as much or as little as she wishes. End the play session while she's still in a good mood...don't push her to get wet if she doesn't want to!

Next week, do it again. With each session add a little more water and bat the toy into the water more and more. Keep progressing until she is comfortable with wet feet and an inch or two of water. 

Once comfortable switch her training session to once a month till she's over a year old. The more comfortable she is now, the less she will protest when she needs to get a bath! 

I've used this method with all my cats (except the Bengal cause they naturally love water) and it's worked perfectly to train them to be ok with bathing. They may not love it, but they don't freak out and bathing is stress free.


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