The screeching. The clawing. The flying fur. It can only mean one thing — you’re trying to give your cat a bath.
While there’s no magic button to press that will make bathing your cat easy if she hates the water (sorry), there are a few specific things you can do that might make it easier.
1. Clip, clip, clip. Be sure to trim your kitty’s claws before giving her a bath. Trust us — this is for your own good.
2. Be prepared. Nothing will annoy your cat more than having to sit around in the water while you root around for the cat shampoo. The best way to go into a cat bath is to have all of the necessary items laid out and ready before you get your cat into the water. Here’s what you’ll need:
—Cat shampoo (If you don’t have this, use baby shampoo. Cats have delicate skin, and harsh shampoos can cause dryness, flaking and itching)
—A pail of warm water (or a spray nozzle, if that wouldn’t scare your cat)
—Conditioner or detangler (You’ll only really need these if your cat has long fur)
—Gloves (These are for you, if you believe your cat might try to scratch)
—A rubber floor mat to keep you from slipping
3. Set the scene. If you’re anxious, nervous and worried, your cat will feel that anxiety and respond in kind. Instead, speak in soothing, calming tones when you’re bathing your cat, but at the same time remain authoritative and let your cat know who’s in charge.
4. Skip drying, if you can. Once your cat is through with the bath, the last thing he’ll want is to be manhandled with a towel to dry off, so if you can, try to let your cat air dry as much as possible. And skip the blow dryer if you’ve already had a particularly harrowing experience with the bath. If the bath wasn’t too bad, though, and if your cat’s not afraid of the noise from the blow dryer — or if your cat has particularly long fur — you can use it on the lowest heat setting to get him mostly dry before allowing it to dry naturally the rest of the way.
5. Provide rewards. Getting through a bath with a cat that hates the water is no easy feat — and you both deserve a reward. Spend some extra time cuddling with your furry friend when you’re done, give her 10 extra minutes of playtime or provide her with a food treat.
Cheryl Lock is an editor at Studio One. Her work has appeared online at Petside and Pet360, as well as in print in publications like Parents, Family Circle and Runner’s World. She lives in New York with her adorable rescue cat, Penny, and a rabbit named Nugget.