Cats are really good at keeping themselves clean – they are very flexible so can reach most parts of their body, and their teeth and barbs on their tongues help remove dirt and loose fur. They also lick their forepaws and use them to wash their face. Often, simply grooming your cat can remove any debris or dirt that is in your cat’s fur. It is a good idea to regularly groom your cat – as well as helping to keep your cat’s coat in good condition, you can also built a great bond with them.
Sometimes your cat may need you to wash them, for example if they are old, ill, or find it difficult to reach parts of their body. Good bodily hygiene is important to keep your cat as healthy as possible, so it is important that you help them when needed. Unless you train your cat to be washed from an early age, it is unlikely that this will be an enjoyable experience for them. Please bear in mind that you should only bathe your cat if you really need to.
Here are some tips on how you should go about cleaning your cat and how to minimise their stress and make the experience as positive as possible:
- Groom your cat before bathing them – this will help to get rid of any lumps in their fur and it is much easier to groom your cat whilst they are dry.
- Find a suitable bath – fine a vessel big enough to fit your entire cat’s body in comfortably, and line it with a non-slip surface (for example a rubber mat or a towel). You can purchase cat-friendly shampoo, but sometimes using warm water can suffice, especially if you are just targeting a smaller area of your cat. We would recommend not bathing your cat’s entire body unless you really need to.
- Prepare yourself! Wear long sleeves and protective gloves if necessary. As your cat won’t be used to being bathed, they may try and climb you to get out and you’re likely to get scratched in the process.
- Have lots of towels handy – Your cat may try to jump out of their bath and having towels around to minimise slippery surfaces and help dry them will help.
- Only fill your bath a few inches high with warm water – you don’t want it to be too deep or too hot! Ensure you temperature check the water before use. If you do wash their entire body, still only fill the bath a few inches high and use a cup to wash them from the neck down; it is really important that you avoid getting shampoo in your cat’s eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
- Get someone to help you – one person should hold the cat in a comfortable and controlled manner whilst the other person can apply to shampoo, lather, and rinse the cat.
- Give your cat treats throughout the process – If your cat is calm enough to eat, giving them part of their diet or providing them with their favourite treat can make the experience more enjoyable for them.
- Try and dry your cat off – your cat may not enjoy being towelled off, but try and gently wrap them in a towel to give them a quick and gentle rub. Try and keep them in a warm environment after as they are likely to still be damp for a while.