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How to bathe a cat

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Even though your cat will take care of most of her cleaning needs, you will still need to bathe her from time to time, especially when she is very dirty or has fleas. Bathing your cat isn't necessarily the easiest task, depending on your kitty's personality, but it's not impossible either. If you are wondering how to bathe a cat, remember that the key is patience and a calm demeanor.

When does your cat need a bath?

Cats are great at keeping themselves clean. It's not unusual for a cat to spend 30 to 50 percent of its day grooming itself.1 If you have multiple cats, you may even notice them grooming each other from time to time. Under normal circumstances, you won't need to take an extra bath very often.

However, if your cat gets really dirty or gets into something sticky or smelly, you definitely need to give her a bath.

If you think your cat has fleas, a bath may help kill the fleas. Adams Flea and Tick Cleansing Shampoo for Cats is a great choice. It prevents flea eggs from hatching for 30 days and kills fleas, ticks and lice. Adams Plus Flea and Tick Foaming Shampoo and Cleanser for Cats and Kittens is another great choice. It has all the flea and tick benefits of a clarifying shampoo, but with a delicious coconut scent.

Bath preparation

Some cats tolerate baths just fine, while others experience extreme stress. If you start bathing your cat from the time she is a kitten, she will become accustomed to the bath. If this is not possible, follow these steps to prepare for a more comfortable bathing experience.

  • When it's bath time, place a mat or towel in the bottom of the sink or tub to prevent your cat from slipping. This will make him feel more at ease.
  • Try to choose a warm place with dry towels nearby and where you can easily reach the cat.
  • First, brush your cat to remove mats.
  • Make sure the water is warm (not hot) because cats are more comfortable when they are not cold.
  • Place a floating ball or toy in the bath to distract your kitten.
  • Have a soft, warm bed ready for him to snuggle up in when you're done and he's dry off a bit. A self-warming bed is perfect for this.

How to bathe a cat safely

Pour a few inches of warm water into the sink or tub and place the kitten in the water. Gently pour water on the cat, scooping it up with your hands, and speak soothingly. Some cats may prefer a small shower with a gentle stream of water on top because it reminds them of rain.2

Apply a small amount of cat shampoo to your cat's body, but avoid getting soap (or water) into his ears, eyes, or nose. If you are using a medicated flea shampoo, read the instructions carefully. You may need to leave the medicated shampoo on your cat for a few minutes. Depending on the instructions, you may also need regular shampoo.3 Watch your kitten closely to make sure he is not licking his lips.

Rinse the entire coat thoroughly with warm water. This is especially important because after a bath, your cat washes himself and will definitely lick off the shampoo you missed. After rinsing, wrap it in a fluffy towel, dry it and be sure to keep it away from drafts until it is completely dry. When everything is ready, give him something healthy to help him develop a positive association with taking a bath.

If you want to provide your cat with ongoing flea protection, use Adams Plus Flea and Tick Treatment for Cats and Kittens. Once the cat is completely dry, squeeze the product onto the skin between the shoulder blades. If you are using the product before bathing your kitten, wait at least 24 hours before dousing it with foam. This treatment kills fleas, their eggs and larvae and prevents flea infestations for 30 days.

The first few times you bathe your cat can be the most stressful. You may have to hold him firmly but gently to prevent him from running away. Over time, he will learn to tolerate the bath better and may even begin to enjoy the extra attention.

1. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. "Cats that lick too much." Vet.Cornell.Edu, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/cats-lick-too- a lot of#.

2. Eastridge Animal Hospital. “How to bathe a cat and survive without scratching!” EastridgeHosp.com, https://www.eastridgehosp.com/articles/how-to-bath-your-cat.html.

3. Barnett, Catherine. “How to Bathe Cats with Medicated Shampoo.” VCA Hospitals, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/how-to-bathe-cats-with-medicated-shampoo.

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