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How to Bathe a Cat

You've probably avoided it: after all, cartoons and comic strips always portray cats as hating water. But if your cat has gotten into something smelly, is older and has trouble grooming itself, is obese and has hard to reach spots, or has another medical condition that might require some extra help with hygiene, you may find yourself needing to give your cat a bath.

How do you avoid the hissing and scratching and drama that you see in cartoons and comics? Read on to learn how to give your cat a bath — in the end, you'll both feel better!

Cat and bath towels

Prepare for Cat Bath

Gather your materials: a pet-friendly shampoo, towels, a pitcher of warm water or handheld water nozzle, your cat's favorite treats for rewards after the bath, and a rubber mat for the bottom of the tub so that your cat won't slip. Let your cat explore the tub or sink without any water, getting them comfortable with the space. Trim your cat's nails and give your cat's coat a thorough brushing to loosen dirt and any matting.

Bathe Your Cat

So how, exactly, do you bathe your cat? Here are the steps:

  1. Working slowly and gently, massage cat shampoo from your cat's neck down to the end of its tail, avoiding the face and ears.
  2. Always work in the direction of hair growth.
  3. Use the warm water set aside to rinse your cat thoroughly.
  4. Use a washcloth with plain water to cleanse the face, and be sure to avoid getting water in your cat's ears.

How to Help Get Rid of Fleas on Your Cat

If you are bathing your cat in order to tackle a flea infestation, the same principles and approach outlined above apply. However, make sure to read the flea shampoo's label to find out additional information that may be specific to it, such as frequency of use and the minimum age a cat needs to be before use.

How to Dry a Cat after a Bath

Keeping your cat in a small, draft-free space will help as you dry them. Some cats enjoy being swaddled in a warm towel, while others may prefer to be left alone after their bath. If your cat is long-haired, you will also need to brush out any fur that might have gotten tangled during the bathing process.

When you need to help your cat stay clean, taking the time to make the bath a comfortable experience for your pet will also help keep you safe from scratches and bites. Your happy, clean cat will be grateful.

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