Just for Kids: Bathing Your Cat
Some cats do a pretty good job of keeping themselves clean. Still, there may be some times when you need to give your kitty a bath. Bathing keeps his coat clean, reduces infections from fleas and ticks, and can even help if someone in your family is allergic to cats.
You may want to bathe your pet in these instances:
- Your cat’s fur is matted.
- Your cat’s fur gets very dirty.
- Your cat has a bad case of fleas, ticks or lice.
- You or other members of your family have allergies to your cat.
- If you are going to bathe your kitty routinely, start when she is young so she gets used to having a bath. Here’s how to give your cat a bath:
Items You May Need
To start, here’s a list of items you may want to use. You can find them at your pet store or your veterinarian’s office:
- A sink with running water (or a basin and a water source)
- Towels to dry your cat
- Plastic cups to scoop water for rinsing
- Eye ointment – protects the eyes from soap
- Wetting agent – lets the water soak through the coat more quickly
- Medicated shampoo – helps repel fleas
- Regular pet shampoo – cleans coat; your parents can ask your veterinarian what kind of shampoo to use. Or they can find one at the pet store that fits your cat’s coat description.
- Tearless baby shampoo – for the cat’s head; her eyes can be irritated by regular shampoo
- Conditioner – to make the coat easier to comb
- Vinegar – for rinsing the soap out of your cat’s fur
- Combs and brushes – to comb out fur before and after washing
- Blow dryer – to dry fur
How to Give the Bath
Give your cat a bath in a warm room, like the bathroom, and close the door while you work in case your kitty decides she’s had enough. Most cats hate water and do not enjoy having a bath. Have your mother or father help you and have everything you need ready.
- Brush the cat’s coat before the bath to remove tangles or mats.
- Hold your cat firmly while your parent applies eye ointment to each eye. This keeps the soap from getting in your cat’s eyes.
- Fill the sink with lukewarm water. Hold the cat firmly with both hands and partly submerge her until the water is around her shoulders. Her fur should be soaked all the way down to the shaft and the hair should start to part. Speak gently to your kitty so she isn’t afraid. It’s important that she doesn’t view this as an awful experience. If your cat seems to be okay, continue to the next step. If she becomes extremely anxious or terrified, do not continue. Towel-dry her as much as you can and let her go.
- Drain the sink. Keep the cat in the basin and speak softly to her. Make sure someone is holding her firmly. You don’t want a wet, irritated cat jumping out of the sink and taking off for the living room.
- Start the shampooing using only a mild, tearless shampoo on the cat’s head. Put a small amount on a wet washcloth and gently wash around the eyes, mouth, cheeks and forehead. Then rinse the cloth and go over the face to remove the soap. Do not get water in the cat’s ears and never pour water over her head.
- While the sink is still empty, start shampooing the cat’s body.
- Make sure you rinse off the shampoo. Fill the sink again with lukewarm water up to the cat’s middle. You can remove the cat while filling the sink so she doesn’t get scared. Use a cup to scoop up the water and pour it gently over her body. Stay away from the head and eyes. Repeat the rinsing process at least two or three times. Keep rinsing until there is no more soap.
- If your cat’s coat needs a conditioner, empty the water out, apply the conditioner and rinse it out as you did for the shampoo.
- Add a ½ cup of vinegar to 2 quarts water in a bucket. Scoop the water out with a cup and use it to rinse out the cat’s coat. This will remove any traces of soap.
- Rinse one more time with lukewarm water and drain the sink.
- While the cat is still in the sink, your mother or father can clean your cat’s ears with a soft Q-tip dipped in a special solution for ears.
- Next, blot her fur with a dry towel and take her out of the sink and place her on the floor or a counter top. Continue to towel dry her with a towel and keep her in a warm room until she is completely dry. If your cat has long hair, you may have to brush her and dry her with a blow-dryer. If you used conditioner, this might be easy.
- If you use a dryer, hold your kitty gently while your parent dries the upper body by blow-drying backward against the lay of the hair. Each section should be totally dry before moving on or the hair will curl. The tail, belly and back legs should be done last. This way, if there is going to be a disagreement, it will come at the end of the grooming session.
- Remember to give your cat plenty of love and attention before and after its bath. This will make bath time more enjoyable for both you and your pet.