How to Give a Cat a Bath

Giving a cat a bath is one of the most difficult things a pet owner can try. The key here is to realize that successfully doing it is about training the cat to accept it. It's easiest to start it as kittens, because they will get used to it and won't put up so much of a fight. If they're adults, you're going to have to gradually get them adjusted to being bathed if you want to do things like giving them a flea bath.


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You can either bathe your cat in the actual tub or in a washtub. Often washtubs are easier - you put it on the counter and then the cat is at a height where you don't have to stoop over to get ahold of it. It is also a lot easier with two people - one to hold the cat down and keep it calm, the other to actually bathe it. Don't use hot or cold water, you want it in the middle - just slightly warm is usually best.

You should gradually get your cat adjusted to the concept. The first time you may not even want any water in the tub - just have some to the side and use a rag to wash the cat. This is a little less traumatic than actually standing in the water itself. After a few times with that, you can try with a little water in the tub, gradually working up until you have it so the water reaches the cat's belly.

There are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Never put the cat's head underwater. Use a rag to gently brush water against it.

2) If you're shampooing the cat, start from the neck and move downwards to the tail. This prevents any fleas or parasites from going up the cat's body to escape.

3) Doing it in the bathroom is best, because it's an enclosed space and you can shut the door. The cat will not be able to run away before you're done - and many will try.

4) Make sure you get all the shampoo out by rubbing the fur thoroughly. It can cause itching and scratching by irritating the cat's skin if you leave the suds in.

5) Use a towel to dry the cat off, and don't let it out of the bathroom until it is pretty dry. They can catch respiratory diseases if they get out into a cold area after a bath and aren't dry. Hairdryers can work too, on a low setting so as not to frighten the cat too much.

6) Give the cat a treat after each bath, and pet it and give it attention. This will help to get the cat not to fight you too much.

7) For cats that fight or thrash around, you should consider cat claw covers. They may not last as long with frequent bathing, but they'll keep you from getting scratched.

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