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A Survival Guide to Giving Your Cat a Bath catipedia-icon2.png

Ahhh… there's nothing more relaxing than slipping into a nice, warm bath.

Unless of course you're a cat.

For this reason, bathing a cat is not for the faint of heart. Or thin of skin. If you're going to bathe your cat, it pays to be prepared with everything you need at the ready. Because once the bath begins, you'll have your hands full of wet, unhappy cat. And trust us. She won't sit and stay while you go for the shampoo.

Instead, your cat will use every weapon at her disposal to evade capture and cleaning. So before you bring her to the sink or tub, make sure you have your bathing arsenal ready. This might also be an ideal time to trim your cat's nails.

Catipedia Video: "Trimming your cat's nails"

Here's what you need to have ready before you start bathing your cat:

- Non-drying shampoo formulated for cats

- A tub or sink

- Mineral oil, to protect your cat's eyes from shampoo*

- A cotton ball*

- Cat comb or brush

- Non-breakable cup or pitcher

- Washcloth

- Thermometer*

- Towel

- Hair dryer*

- You may also want to consider some protection for your forearms and hands… welder's gloves come to mind

*Optional items

A quick note about shampoo: Every species has a specific pH level, which is why there are shampoos specially formulated for cats. Using shampoo formulated for humans, dogs or other animals can irritate your cat's skin… and frankly, your cat will likely be irritated enough by the bath itself. If you are bathing a kitten, be sure that your cat shampoo is safe for kittens too.

MISSION: CLEAN CAT

Before you get started, have you trimmed your cat's nails recently? Last chance!

1. Place a rubber mat or towel in the bottom of your sink or tub to give your cat some traction during the bath. (A much less painful option than having her use your arms.) Then, very nonchalantly, find your cat, pick her up and bring her to the bathing location. Offer her a treat to distract her from the fact that she is now going to get wet.

2. Prepare your cat for her bath by combing or brushing her. If she's a longhair, make sure you carefully remove any mats in her coat, since water will just make them worse. As an optional step - and if your cat lets you - place half of a cotton ball in each of her ears to keep water from getting in, and one drop of mineral oil in each eye to protect them from shampoo. Now you're ready to run the water… and the REAL fun begins.

3. Run the water and make sure it is warm - about 102º is ideal, because that's your cat's body temperature. Then, using a spray hose, cup or pitcher, gently pour the water over your cat's body, avoiding her head. Ignoring her threatening growls, continuously apologize to her in a soft voice, asking her not to take revenge on your curtains.

4. Once your cat is wet, apply the shampoo and massage in gently. You'll have to work fast - once your cat's coat is lathered, she is virtually unstoppable during an escape. And she knows this. If you need to clean her face, use a washcloth to gently wipe this area.

5. Next, rinse your cat with warm water, again avoiding her head. Be sure to rinse thoroughly - shampoo left in your cat's fur can contribute to skin allergies, or be ingested when she grooms herself.

6. Finally, remove the cotton from your cat's ears and gently dry her by stroking her fur with a towel. If she's willing, try wrapping her in the towel with just her head sticking out. After toweling mostly dry, some very well-adjusted cats even enjoy a quick blow dry with a hairdryer on the lowest setting.

At this point, many cats will simply run off and find a place to hide, groom themselves and plot their revenge while they dry. If your cat doesn't leave, make a peace offering immediately - a favorite treat usually helps. Also, make sure your house is warm and free from drafts until your cat is completely dry. And of course, watch your back… at least until you can be sure she has fully recovered her dignity.

Are you sure your cat needs a bath? Check out "Do Cats Need Baths?" to help you decide

References

  • Brunner D. The Cat Owner's Manual. 2004: 132-5.
  • Shojai A. The Purina Encyclopedia of Cat Care. 1998: 191, 197-200.
  • Robins S. Cat Fancy, "7 Steps to Bathing a Cat." Oct 2013: 24-25.
  • Robins S. Kittens 101, "Beauty Basics." 2015 Annual, Vol. 18: 79.

TOPICS: HEALTH BATHROOM

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FAQs

Below you'll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our company, our products and caring for your cats. If you have a question that isn't addressed here, please feel free to contact us.

Q: How can I email or talk with the Purina Pet Care team?

A: If you would like to talk with us, please contact us here or call us at 1­-888­-228­-2469.

Our Hours of Operation:

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Q: How are Purina Cat Chow products different from other healthy pet foods?

A: Inside every bag of Purina Cat Chow you'll find a selective blend of protein, fat, and fiber. Everything we use in our premium cat food formulas has a place in your cat's healthy diet.

Q: How can I be sure of the quality of the Purina Cat Chow products?

A: Our top priority is the quality of the food that nourishes not only your pets, but the pets we share our lives with, too. So from source to bowl, the quality of our food is assured by taking the following steps:

Ingredient Sourcing

  • Purina ingredient sourcing and processing meet or exceed FDA, USDA or AAFCO standards for pet food. And every supplier of ingredients for Purina products must meet our stringent standards for ingredient specifications, product safety, sanitation and manufacturing practices.
  • Ingredient Testing
  • All of Purina's North American manufacturing facilities have on-site quality assurance laboratories and staff. And we're working to expand the use of technology to further screen ingredients for quality assurance.
  • Ingredient Tracking & Control
  • 99% of all Purina pet food products sold in the U.S. are made in Purina-owned U.S. manufacturing facilities and Purina's sophisticated tracking system ensures important measures of control: All raw ingredients are tracked from time of receipt at our plants, through their inclusion in finished products, and on to retail stores.
Q: Where is your food manufactured?

A: 99% of all Purina-branded pet food products sold in the U.S. are made in Purina-owned U.S. manufacturing facilities. Purina's sophisticated tracking system ensures important measures of control: All raw ingredients are tracked from time of receipt at our plants, through their inclusion in finished products, and on to retailers.

Q: I am unable to find a particular product in my area. Can you help me locate it?

A: Yes, we can help. Although distribution of our Purina Cat Chow products is national, not all stores carry all sizes and varieties. Contact our Customer Service department via our Contact Us page or call us at 1­-888­-228­-2469.

Q: Do you offer coupons?

A: We offer coupons in local papers, through direct mailing programs and via emails to registered members. We don't have a regular section on our website itself. We suggest you watch for sales or promotions at your local retailer.

Q: Where can I find articles and information about my cat?

A: We believe there's always more to learn and to share and that discovery should be fun. It's one more way we're helping you and your cat share a better life together. Visit Catipedia for articles and information and... a little bit of fun.

Q: Where can I find articles and information about my cat?

A: We strongly recommend talking to your veterinarian for immediate answers to urgent situations. While CatChow.com is an excellent resource of information provided by cat care experts, your veterinarian can provide the best care for your individual cat.

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