Saturday, September 09, 2006

How to Bathe a Cat

First of all, this topic is not for the faint of heart. You have to know your own cat, and each one will act differently. As a matter of fact, each one may act a different way each time. So always stay on your toes. Reading this and following these directions will in no way hold me liable to any injury caused in the process of bathing a cat. Proceed with caution.
  1. Find a partner in crime. It takes two people to wash a cat.
  2. Gather your materials before getting the cat. These are: cat shampoo (not people shampoo), an old bath towel, a sink with a spray nozzle attachment.
  3. Turn the water on in the sink to start warming it up. Warm it to where it feels neutral to your hand or slightly warmer. Cats are warmer than humans, and it will feel colder to them.
  4. Find the cat. Suggestions: under the bed, back corner of the closet, the mystery place you haven't yet found, but he always seems to disappear to.
  5. One person needs to hold the cat with two hands under the cat's armpits. Let the cat's back feet rest on the floor of the sink. Be sure and stop up the sink drain so the cat doesn't accidentally slip and get a foot stuck in it. You may have to pause the process and drain the sink periodically.
  6. The other person needs to quickly wet down the cat with the sprayer. Wet everything but the cat's head. Ignore the yowling that may commence. The cat is not in pain; it just thinks it is. If the cat begins to resist and struggle, have the holder restrain any part that is trying to move, or lift the cat above the sink, so he has no leverage. Do not bring the cat near your shirt, or you will most likely receive several new unneccessary buttonholes.
  7. After the cat is sufficiently wet, squirt a fair amount of shampoo all over the cat (again avoiding the head).
  8. Vigorously scrub the cat, making sure you get soap all the way through the thick coat. Concentrate on areas that attract dirt, like paws.
  9. Again use the sprayer to hose down the cat. Start at the top, and rinse all the way down. Be sure to get as much soap off as possible. Even though it is pet soap, it's not good to ingest too much.
  10. Apologize when you accidentally hose down the holder, as well.
  11. At this point, use your wet hands to gently wipe down your cat's face. Only do what it necessary to clean your cat's head. You don't want water going in their ears or eyes.
  12. Drape a bath towel over both arms, covering your chest.
  13. Have the holder place the cat in the towel hammock you've created.
  14. Immediately wrap the cat tightly in the towel. The cat will not be happy, and will want to use his claws for evil, as well as jump as far away as he can. By wrapping up both back and front legs, you can keep this from happening.
  15. While keeping the towel tight, vigorously rub the cat down. Cats get cold easily, and you don't want excess water in their fur. (Do not give a cat a bath during winter.) While it seems like a good idea, a hair dryer usually doesn't go over too well with cats.
  16. Slow your rub-down to a pet, and speak soothingly to your cat. Try to calm him down before letting him go. If he'll take it, give him a treat.
  17. Release the cat.
  18. Go change your clothes, as, despite your efforts, you will now be soaking wet.
  19. Watch as the cat proceeds to lick every clean part of him, undoing all your hard labor.
Friday has had this process periodically ever since he was small enough to bathe holding him in one hand, and it only took a hand towel to dry him off. Now he soaks a full-blown bath towel, and tries to make as much mess as he can. The first time we bathed Buddy, he went completely limp. Jon was holding him, and he was dead weight the whole time. He had no idea what we were doing to him, and I think he would have rather been dead. The next time, he was much wiser, and decided he didn't want any more of that. It turns out cats can be quite strong!

Cats don't really need baths unless they get into something. Most of the time, they clean themselves just fine (unless, like Jon, you think that cat spit could in no way be considered clean). Bathing a cat once a month helps control the amount of dried saliva on a cat's skin, which is what causes allergic reactions in people.

So there you have it. Nineteen steps to a clean cat, and a happier you. Okay, maybe you won't be too happy. And yes, I'll understand if you reconsider the importance of a clean cat after this.

But you now have a clean cat, and your cat feels he has taught you a valuable lesson. All in all, a worthwhile venture.


  1. Until I met you (and Friday) I had never in my life heard of giving a cat a bath!

  2. Just substitute the word "baby" for "cat" and you get the general idea of what to do! Except babies don't lick themselves afterwards, but just poop on themselves.

    Congratulations on writing the perfect "how to" essay. Or does a list constitute an essay? hmm

    We only washed cats who were dirty from rolling in something. But dipping them in flea dip was just as bad. So your dad always got that job.

  3. Yes, can't think of anything more fun than giving a cat a bath. We used to have a shower door that latched so my dad and I would sud up Tailer and then lock her in the tub for 3-5 mins to let the soap do its thing. This was the source of many a pathetic cat opera! Wow, the lungs on her!

    I still have scar to this day on my shoulder from one such wonderful "bathtime with kittie!"