Bathing Your Cat
Bathing your cat on a regular basis helps keep their coat clean, shiny, and healthy, and also helps to reduce shedding. We recommend that you bathe your pet cat or kitten approximately once a month, and then blow dry the cat until completely dry to avoid a chill. We start bathing kittens between 4 and 6 weeks of age, so they get accustomed to bathing early in their life.
We find that the kitchen sink is the easiest place to bathe our kitties, as it eliminates the constant bending over that happens using the bathtub. We start on the face, and simply use a wet washcloth to scrub, especially under the eyes. Unless your cat's face is really dirty, warm water will be sufficient for this step. For the rest of the body, wet the coat down, and then for the first soaping, use Dawn dishwashing liquid, mixed 50/50 with water -- it really does cut the grease! Work it into a good lather (not hard to do with Dawn!), and really work it into the coat, paying special attention to the areas that tend to be the greasiest: the belly, the chest, and the base of the tail. Then, rinse it out thoroughly -- this will take several minutes. For a final soaping, you can use any brand of cat shampoo you like. Try to avoid using people shampoos, as they have additives that may irritate the cat, and they are pH balanced for human skin, and your cats skin is much more sensitive than ours. Wash & rinse using the same procedure.
As a final step to make sure all the soap is out of the coat, use a couple of tablespoons of vinegar in a pitcher of water, and pour this mixture over the coat -- the vinegar will cut any remaining soapscum from the coat. Then, rinse thoroughly again to remove the vinegar.
Once that's finished, you can wrap your cat up in a towel, and hold her for a few minutes -- this will help to absorb some of the excess water. We find that while the cat is wrapped in the towel is a really good time to clip claws. You can pull one leg at a time out from the towel to work on it. Clipping the claws at this point has two advantages: one - the cat is wrapped up and can't struggle too much; and two - the hair is wet, and it's much easier to see the claw to do the cutting. This is also a good time to clean your cats ears with a Q-tip. The same rules that apply to cleaning your own ears apply here - don't go too deeply into the ear. Clean the external ear gently as well. If you notice anything other than normal earwax - anything foul-smelling, wet, or icky - consult your veterinarian.
For drying, any human hair dryer will work -- just make sure to use a very low heat setting that will not burn the cat! We do most of our drying with the cat in a carrier. If you have a hair dryer with a stand, simply set it up so that the air blows into the carrier. If not, we improvise by taking a jar or something similar and setting the handle of the hair dryer down into it. If it rattles around and makes a lot of noise, a kitchen towel around the handle of the hair dryer or the mouth of the jar will help. Once the cat is drying in the carrier, we pull them out every 10 minutes or so, and carefully run a comb through the hair that has started to dry -- this helps to separate the strands, which makes drying quicker. After the cat is mostly dry, you can remove it from the carrier and finish drying by hand -- areas such as the feet and belly are usually the last areas to dry.
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