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The Right Way to Bathe Your Cat

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by Alexander Thompson
Apr 07, 2022
4 minute read
TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • How Do You Keep Your Cat Clean?
  • The Best Time to Bathe Your Cat
  • How Often Should You Bathe Your Cat?
  • How to Bathe Your Cat?
  • How Do You Dry Your Cat?
  • Conclusion
Cats have a few natural instincts, and self-cleaning is one of them. You might know this as a cat owner. But you may need to step in sometimes to help your cat take a shower. The chances of this happening are higher for owners of long-haired cats. The older they grow, cats struggle to clean and get rid of those unpleasant smells. And that is where you come in.

How Do You Keep Your Cat Clean?

You will most likely not find any animal group that self-cleans better than the cats. You do not need to bathe your cat in most cases – their rough papillae-covered tongues fill their fur with saliva. This saliva contains natural oils which are spread across their skin. The papillae also serve as natural detanglers. So, when you see your kitty lapping away, they are trying to smoothen their fur out.
Despite being self-grooming, you may need to regularly help your cat brush and comb. This helps to identify any health problems early. If you notice the coat falling off, consult your vet for appropriate treatment. It is also vital to help them remove loose hair, which otherwise can lead to hairballs. You can detangle the matted areas, including their under-belly with a comb, followed by a bristle brush to remove dirt stuck in their hair effectively.

The Best Time to Bathe Your Cat

When you bathe your cat depends on how frequently they get dirty. For example, outdoor cats will require more frequent baths because they get dirty faster. A brush or comb will suffice to remove dirt in most cases. However, smelly cats may need a full shower, especially if you suspect that harmful substances have stuck to their fur while they self-groom.
If you have a long-coated breed, you will notice they struggle to groom themselves. You must help them stay clean and, more importantly, protect them from severe skin conditions. Medicated shampoo is often recommended, but this depends on your cat’s tolerance level. A cat is due for a wash if any item gets stuck to their coat and they cannot remove it. You don’t want to leave such toxic substances on their fur because cats can lap on them.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Cat?

Compared to dogs, cats require fewer baths. For instance, a cat can go all year with just five baths. If your cat spends considerable time outdoor, you may need to bathe them more often. Long-haired breeds will also require more baths. Experts advise that you wash your feline friend once every four to six weeks to avoid pelting or matting.

How to Bathe Your Cat?

Now to the main business. The first step is getting the timing right. You want to wash your cat, preferably when it is happy. Start by putting it in a bathtub in the bathroom. It would help if you locked the door to reduce their chances of running away while at it.

Bathing Process

The best bathing water for cats is lukewarm water. Do not soak or submerge your cat during the bath. Considering cats do not like to be wet, the pour-over technique is strongly recommended. Ensure the water pressure is regulated if you are using a handheld spray. Your cat will feel discomfort if the pressure is too high, making the experience unenjoyable.

Shampoo Works

It would be best to learn to use the shampoo correctly while bathing your cat. Apply the shampoo tenderly and massage it gradually into their coat. You will be surprised at how happy and relaxing this can make them feel. Depending on the shampoo brand, ensure you adhere to the instructions during use. You may need to leave the lather on for some time before washing, especially for medicated shampoos.
In addition, rinse the cat’s body thoroughly with running water if you wash your cat with shampoo. Unwashed traces of shampoo may cause skin infection in the cat. Treats are recommended during the bath – it will get your cat to cooperate even more and make them look forward to future baths.

How Do You Dry Your Cat?

It would be best if you had a separate towel for drying your cat. Old towels usually work, especially those that the cat can claw or scratch with no problem. Always put one next to the bathtub and use it to dry its body immediately after the bath.

Drying With a Towel

To towel-dry your cat, hold it securely for a few minutes so that it stays calm without squirming away. Start drying by gently pressing the towel against its body. Avoid back and forth rubs so it doesn’t tangle your cat’s fur. Suppose the towel gets completely wet while it, switch to a new dry towel and continue drying. Drying is only complete when the hair is no longer dripping wet.
a cat having a shower

Drying With Air

Once the fur is no longer dripping wet, leave your cat in a warm room. This will allow tepid air to continue the drying process. Let it sit comfortably on a soft towel. Please do not use a hairdryer because it can cause skin irritation on your cat. The hairdryer sound tends to scare kittens away.

Brushing the Cat’s Hair.

Depending on the coat type, get a cat comb for combing. A fine-tooth comb works best for short hair, while a wide-toothed comb is excellent for matted fur. A wide-tooth brush is the best for long hair.

Brushing a Long-haired Breed

When brushing a long-haired cat, do it along the legs, armpits, and abdomen. Direct the brushing towards their head and the combing along their back. Finally, run the comb near their head and tail. It’s best to brush your long-coated cat daily, as this will ensure hairballs don’t form and the fur doesn’t tangle.

Brushing a Short-haired Breed

It is best to brush your short-coated cat from head to tail. Start by running a fine-tooth comb through their dry hair. Then brush from their head to the bottom, in the direction of their hair growth. The abdomen is the next spot to brush. Short-haired cats require a brushing session every week to minimize dander and prevent hairballs from forming.

Rewarding Your Cat

Once you are done bathing and brushing your cat, throw in some treats as a form of reward. You can also praise your cat by petting them. These acts improve positive associations during baths and make them more open to future baths.

Conclusion

Almost every cat can self-groom. However, this doesn’t absolve the cat owner completely of grooming responsibilities. As a cat owner, you must wash your cat, especially if they get dirty or smelly. Long-haired cats require more frequent baths than the short-haired breed. Bathing or washing them regularly is the only way to prevent the matting and drying of their fur.
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