Usually I leave Teabag to clean himself, he has short hair and he’s pretty well designed when it comes to cleaning himself, but there are times when he comes home so stinky, that even my little self-proclaimed “King of the Garbage Can”…can’t! Bearing in mind some of the awful things he eats and plays with, believe me I’m talking unparalleled stench! So, to avoid giving himself a bath, he leaves me in no doubt that he requires my assistance, basically by following me around and stinking me out til I can’t bear it anymore.
Now, I’ve never had any problems with clawing or fighting, as I guess Teabag grudgingly accepts that I’m doing him a favour, but with a normal cat, things are a bit different and the sensible advice is to trim you cats claws a few days before the event and make sure you catch your cat at a time when they are chilled out. If you’ve been doing your brushing and bonding then this is a good place to start as it gives you a chance to get rid of any loose hair and deal with any matted fur.
Next, you need to get some cotton balls to put in your cats ears. This will help stop water getting in there and freaking them out. You also need to put something on the bottom of the tub, bath or sink so your cat doesn’t slip around and get injured and/or royally P@#!#d off. A lot of websites suggest a rubber bath mat, but you can use a towel.
Run a few inches of lukewarm water into the basin of your choice, take a deep breath and try to get you cat into it. If all goes to plan, the next thing you should do is gently and slowly wet your cat’s fur, you can do this with a hand-held shower nozzle or use a plastic pitcher, the main thing is not to just dump water over your cat’s head and face… nobody likes that.
Now the shampoo bit, presuming you’re not bleeding heavily and have given up and called a professional groomer. Dilute one part cat shampoo in five parts water and slowly massage it through your cat’s fur from head to tail, going in the direction of hair growth. Then grab your pitcher and hose and rinse it all off. Make sure you do this thoroughly as left over residue can irritate your cat’s skin and actually lead to more dirt getting stuck in their fur.
Still going… wow, you’re like a master of cats! But don’t congratulate yourself too soon, now you have to do the face… and the face has teeth. Which is why you’re going to get a washcloth and gingerly wipe your cats face. In 99% of bathtimes this is enough, if your cat has a really dirty face and the washcloth doesn’t get it all, then you need to break out the cat shampoo again. Dilute as much as you can, say 10 parts water to 1 part shampoo, a really tiny amount and wash the dirt off, avoiding your cats eyes and ears. Then rinse your cloth and wipe as much residue off as you can.
Now comes a quite fun bit, if Teabag is anything to go by, because he doesn’t mind water, but he hates towels. He prefers dashing off, getting onto my bed and rolling around until he’s dry-ish. It took me several months worth of changing my quilts to figure out that putting a towel out on my bed would completely solve the problem. Ha! But the general advice here is to wrap your cat up in a big warm towel and dry them gently in a warm place, that or use a hairdryer on its lowest setting. Something I haven’t, so far, dared do to Teabag.
The last thing is to reward your pet, even if they’ve maybe been a bit naughty, as long as you’ve got through all of that with some degree of success, a reward will make your cat more open to the idea of bathing next time. So lots of stroking and praise and one of his or her favourite treats. Remember you’re training your cat here, so be responsible with treats… that is unless you want a pompous, egotistical, spoilt little monster like Teabag. I mean, it has its drawbacks, but it is very entertaining.
Big thanks to The ASPCA for helping me keep my facts straight.