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How to Wash a Cat and Survive

author Lucy Byrne | Care and raising

With the exception of several breeds such as the Bengal cat or the Siberian cat, cats don’t like water very much. Luckily, they don’t need to wash very often but even though they thoroughly keep themselves clean, a situation when there’s no other option than to take a bath might happen. In such cases, many of our furry friends are able to fight really hard to avoid it. How to do that so both sides survive washing a cat unharmed?

If you plan to go on exhibitions with your cat, you’ll need to wash it more often, though. The best way is to get it used to washing since early age. Then, there is a higher chance it won’t hate water and shampoos so much. But you need to keep in mind that cat fur is not made for water, so wash it only when it’s necessary and use only shampoos made specifically for cats. Also, check their quality. Their skin is very sensitive to chemicals. 

People who take their pets to exhibitions know that it’s necessary to wash their furry friend about a week before it because even the gentlest shampoo makes the fur less shiny and elastic. Then, it takes a while until the fur is at its best again. Washing needs to be complemented with a conditioner and other nourishing sprays.

Before you start washing, prepare everything you need within your reach so it is as short as possible. Besides a shampoo (and maybe a conditioner), it is also a larger towel, a cup for rinsing and don’t forget to put an anti-slip pad or at least a towel on the bottom. You can prepare a hair dryer, too, if the cat can stand it. You’ll appreciate conditioner particularly with long-haired cats.

If you cut your cat’s claws, do it before the washing, it’s in your own interest. It is better to have water in a bath then to shower the cat. If you don’t have a bath, a larger bowl might work as well. The hissing noise of water as well as its stream is even scarier for them. The water should have around 37 degrees, at least 33 degrees so your cat won’t get cold. 

Try to keep as calm as possible for the whole time and hold the cat the best way you can so you don’t need to fight with it so much. It’s better if you have another person there, one person makes the washing and the other one holds the cat.

Soak the fur properly in water first and don’t forget about the undercoat. Water needs to get to the skin. Then use a shampoo. Take care not to put the product to the cat’s face or ears. You need to rinse the foam thoroughly. Otherwise the cat could consume a dangerous amount of shampoo when licking its fur which will definitely follow after the washing. If you plan on using a conditioner, the procedure stays the same and also rinse it with a large amount of water. 

Then dry the fur using a towel. It should be highly absorbent so the drying is as fast as possible. If the pet is not too scared, use a hair dryer but keep it on the lowest temperature and speed. In any case, the cat should stay in a warm place until the fur is completely dry. This is because cats are very sensitive to temperature changes. If you wish to comb the cat after washing, wait until the fur is completely dry.

If washing is very terrifying for your cat, it is better to use a dry shampoo or a cleaning foam than to put it under so much stress. However, still use products specifically designed for cats. 

And what about you, have ever washed your cat? Because of dirt or because of fleas? And have you handled it without scratches?