Cats are usually pretty good at self-grooming. They are always cleaning themselves, thoroughly chewing and licking between their own toes. It is not often that a cat requires human assistance in self-grooming; however, when this occasion does arise, the responsibility should not be taken lightly. Proper procedures and methods should be carefully thought-out and applied. When one finds that it is necessary to bathe a cat there are certain precautions that ought to be taken prior to undertaking the task.
The first step is to avoid giving the cat a bath in the first place. Firstly, re-evaluate whether the cat actually needs a bath. Possibly, whatever the cause for considering a bath might resolve itself if left alone. Remember: Cats are self-groomers and will not appreciate assistance if it involves water. However, a cat might appreciate dry grooming assistance. What this means is that before giving a cat a bath, consider less hydro-invasive methods such as dry-rubbing, brushing, damp-towelling. If these methods are still not sufficient, and it is determined that the final cause of action is to fully bathe a cat then the following procedure should be strictly adhered:
Step one should be to consider that the claws that the cat has groomed himself can be used against the bather: Trim them at least one day prior to bath. If the situation is urgent, and claws remain untrimmed, the bather may experience painful scratches, from minor to severe.
Following this, it is recommended that the bather consider installing extra non-slip surfaces in and around the bathing area. It is necessary to anticipate sudden movements and this precautionary measure can save the groomer much injury as well as the cat.
The next step is to prepare the actual bath. The groomer must ask if this cat requires submersion or spraying. Either way, a shallow pool of tepid warm water should be drawn so the cat soaks its paws. Set shampoo and towels within reach of the tub. Have a dry off area prepared as well.
After this, locate the cat and hold as if nothing unusual will happen. Then, suddenly, grab the scruff (like a mother cat) and put cat in tub. The element of surprise is critical at this juncture.
At this point, IMMEDIATELY, pour water on cat’s head and back. It is necessary for the cat to feel as though escaping is futile to reduce risk of struggle.
As soon as possible, apply the shampoo as minimally as possible to reduce length of bath and amount of rinsing.
Finally, rinse the cat as quickly as possible. While rinsing, reach with the other hand for the towel and have it prepared for when you shut off the water. The bath is almost done, but the danger zone is still looming, so it is important to remain vigilant. Put the towel over the cat and wrap tightly. Avoid the claws and teeth. At this final juncture, keep cat wrapped tightly in the towel and transport to dry off area. The cat can be dried manually, however, if possible, leave the cat alone in a well heated room with towels on the floor. The cat will appreciate being left alone at this point.
You have bathed a cat!
Congratulations! Hopefully, if this process was followed, and the above steps adhered to, the groomer will emerge unscathed and the cat will emerge clean. A final warning: both groomer and cat may experience a period of mutual dissatisfaction after the bath, however, this period will pass. Both groomer and cat will get over the traumatic experience of a “cat bath”.