Cat’s out of the bag and in the tub?!

Curiosity may have killed the cat. Baths didn’t. But try telling your feline that. So how does one wash a cat? Very carefully.

Although bathing your kitty may be in the same category as defrosting the microwave on your to-do list, one day it may become crucial. People bathe their cats when they are allergic to them or when their felines are allergic to the household allergens they are producing. Although kitties tend to be fastidious groomers, allergens or even toxins should be removed before your cat ingests them.

Occasionally there are incentives, like when your cat has applied eau de dead rat. Or perhaps you’ve been through the wringer because your cat has ringworm. Maybe you have a long-haired breed that just can’t keep up with the Chia Pet-nature of its coat. 

For these reasons and more, it’s best to implement regular grooming when your cat is a kitten. But for most of us, this is unwelcome now-you-tell-me advice. So let us start from scratch. Speaking of which, you might want to trim your kitty’s nails in advance so you don’t become a human pincushion.

Preparation is the key. Since most felines abhor the sound of running water, fill a 5-gallon bucket ahead of time; you will ladle this water over your kitty, not dunk your cat in it. Gather your supplies such as towels, shampoo and large clean yogurt containers to employ as ladles. Comb out any burs or mats ahead of time.

Creating a peaceful, safe environment is imperative. Play some classical music and allow your cat to enjoy some kitty pheromone spray. Block off any possible escape routes to make sure your cat doesn’t scat. If using a shower stall, be prepared to get a soaking too.

Cats need something to dig their nails into. Avoid being the most obvious choice by securing a piece of carpeting or a no-slip bathmat to the surface your feline will be on.

Throughout the bathing process, hold your kitty firmly by the neck scruff. Accordingly as with most things in life, bathing your cat will be easier with a second person if it’s the right person with the right cattitude. Unfortunately, there is no faster way to inspire your significant other to drive 12 miles for dental floss at 8 p.m. than by announcing your need for a cat-washing volunteer.

In order to minimize the traumatizing moments of wetness for both you and your feline, consider massaging diluted shampoo into your cat’s dry fur before introducing any water. Cats are sensitive to high temperatures so use lukewarm water only. 

Choose a vet-approved shampoo. If your vet okays it, consider using a fragrance-free baby shampoo. Rinse all the soap out thoroughly. Do not use scents or leave-in conditioners.

You may end up catatonic if you attempt to use a blow dryer on your puss. Instead, wrap your kitty in a towel while holding the neck scruff. Pat the towel bundle dry.

Do not let your cat out of the house immediately after the deed is done.

Your cat is in the throes of planning a move to China or, at the very least, his or her next encounter with rat innards.

Bathing a cat does not need to be a catastrophe. With proper planning, your kitty may not end up a total sourpuss. Before you know it, you’ll have cat bathing in the bag … purrobably.

• Moksha McClure is the founder of Whiskers Resort. Visit or call 241-PETS.


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