When bathing your kitty for the first time, you want to make sure that you are doing it correctly. One wrong move can make the entire experience a nightmare that your cat will remember forever.
As much as we want to keep our cats clean and healthy, bathing is often a life-and-death struggle between fur-parent and feline. The reason for this is obvious: most cats (and even dogs) hate getting wet.
This is why drying them efficiently and as quickly as possible is a very important aspect when bathing a cat. Otherwise, bath time will be problematic for both you and your cat.
Your cats may freak out when they see a tub filled with water because they often associate it with a bad experience. Their first instinct would then be to run away from their owner. The worst thing that could happen is that your cat becomes aggressive. It is no surprise that many owners come away with scratches or bites after attempting to shower their cat.
So, how do you fix this bath-time struggle and make your felines enjoy the experience? Is there a right way to dry your cat after giving it a bath?
The answer may not be simple, but you can start taking small steps to help keep your cat calm and comfortable, both during and after bath time.
Why do cats hate being bathed?
Cats are known for being meticulous groomers. They can spend most of their waking hours grooming themselves from head to toe. Nature has designed their tongues with tiny bristles, or papillae, to effectively brush every strand of their hair while removing excessive dirt and dead skin cells. The sandpaper-like texture of their tongue doesn’t only act like a comb; it also helps spread their natural oil as it glides through their fur, keeping their coat soft and shiny.
But, despite being naturally clean animals, some cats do need a bath occasionally, especially if they begin to smell. Sometimes their own grooming tool, which is the tongue, may not be enough to keep them clean and protect them from skin diseases. Cats who are sick, obese, or have mobility issues may not be able to clean themselves properly. Senior cats may also reduce their grooming habits as their bodies become weaker and more frail.
And, since felines cannot bathe themselves, they will need your helping hand. But it will not be a very easy task.
Most cats do not like their fur getting wet. In the wild, wet fur can make the cat feel heavy and waterlogged, and thus an easier target for predators. Although your cat is not raised in the wild, this behavior can still be instinctive.
A lot of owners do not bother bathing their felines because they are clean most of the time (unlike dogs). And, since cats are highly sensitive to changes, introducing them to something unfamiliar like bathing can be frightening for them.
Cats are also very sensitive to temperature. That is why shooing them with a spray of cold water is so effective. All that said, it is no surprise that cats respond negatively to being bathed.
However, not all cats hate the water. In fact, some cats raised in the wild love to soak in the water during hot weather. Show cats are also not terrified of water because they have become used to it. It stands to reason, then, that the right way to make your cats less anxious is to introduce bath time as early as possible.
Keep in mind, though, that small kittens may not be able to tolerate the water since their bodies are not yet fully developed and able to regulate heat. Bathing kittens can make them sick (and can sometimes be fatal), so be patient and wait until they are old enough for their first bath.
Can you air-dry your cat after a bath?
So you are finally ready to give your furry friend a nice shower. What now?
Before you get too excited, make sure that you know how to dry your pet correctly to make bath time enjoyable instead of a traumatic experience.
As mentioned above, cats usually do not like their fur getting wet. This is for survival reasons, as being wet can make them feel heavy, less agile, and vulnerable to predators. Moreover, they are also highly sensitive to cold water, especially if they are not used to it. So, if you want to bathe your cat, your top objective should be to dry them as quickly as possible to avoid them getting stressed and sick.
Is it a good idea to air-dry your cat after a bath?
Air-drying your cat is ideal if the weather is warm. However, air-drying is not recommended if the cat is still soaking wet. Cats do not like moisture to stay too long on their fur and they will do everything they can to dry themselves by licking. Such excessive licking may cause your cat to ingest a lot of hair, which could form hairballs. In rare cases, these hairballs might turn into intestinal obstructions.
So, do your cat a favor and don’t leave them out in the sun while their fur is still soaking wet.
Is blow drying a good idea, then?
You might think that blow drying will give you a quick helping hand to dry your cat. Unfortunately, this method may not always work.
Blow dryers are usually loud and irritating to a cat. Felines have a hearing capability two to three times more sensitive than ours, and can also distinguish more frequencies than humans. These talents are nature-given so that they can predict changes in the environment and run away for survival as soon as they detect any threats.
The moment you turn on the blow dryer, your cat may freak out, become aggressive, and run away from you as far as they can. Bathing and drying them will become a fearful experience.
Some cats may tolerate a hair dryer if they have grown up with it. In fact, it may be ideal for long-haired cats to prevent tangles. Again, the key is to introduce them early. The first time may not always be easy, but if you take a slow and gentle approach, with treats and lots of praise, your cat may eventually love the attention and enjoy the experience over time.
Just remember, if you resort to a blow dryer, to set it to the lowest setting. Using a medium or high dryer setting that is too hot might irritate your cat’s skin and damage the fur.
How to towel dry your cat
Of all the methods mentioned above, towel drying is the best and most effective way to dry your cat. All you need is at least two towels and a warm room where your cat can be dried. This is how to do it:
1. Prepare a towel and spread it out next to the sink or bathtub. Your cat will probably wriggle and shake after the bath, so having a towel nearby will help get them wrapped up right away and avoid squirming. A towel warmer also helps to prevent your cat from getting cold. If you have one, simply wrap the towel around it and by the time your cat is ready to dry, it should be warm and comfortable for your feline.
Having an extra towel around is recommended, since your cat will most likely need more than one to dry. If the first towel becomes too damp, you can use the second towel to remove more excess water before leaving the cat in the room to dry.
2. After you have given your kitty a nice warm bath, place him immediately on the towel. Using one hand, hold your cat securely to stop him running away while the other hand wraps the towel around him. Do not cover his head, as this will make him stressed. Your cat may feel uncomfortable and try to escape, so you must do this as quickly and gently as possible.
3. Cuddle your kitty for a few minutes after wrapping him. This should calm him down a bit before you start drying him.
4. Gently tap your cat’s body with the towel to absorb the excess water from his fur. Squeeze the towel until the fur is no longer dripping wet. Never use a rubbing motion because this can cause tangles and knots. When the towel becomes too wet, get another dry towel and continue drying your cat with a soft, blotting motion.
5. Place your cat in a warm room to finish drying. Never put your kitty directly under the sun or next to a heat source. To avoid him feeling cold, let your cat curl up on a dry towel. Turning a small heater on may also help keep your cat warm as he continues to dry himself.
6. Never forget to give treats, cuddles and lots of praise. Rewards may help your cat tolerate bathing over time and hopefully he will grow to enjoy the experience.
How often should you bathe your indoor cat?
Overall, regular bathing may not be necessary for your cat, especially if he is healthy and clean most of the time. Bathing your feline every four to six weeks should be enough to help keep his coat and skin healthy. If your furry friend loves playing outdoors, then you may need to increase the bathing a little bit.
But, keep in mind not to bathe your cat too often since this can be bad for their skin and fur. Your kitty may lose the natural oil from his skin and this will lead to dryness.
Baths are generally unpleasant for most cats. Apart from disliking water, felines are sensitive to temperature changes and leaving their fur dripping wet can make them sick.
As much as possible, you want to make sure that your cat is dried properly and quickly before he makes his escape and runs away from you. Hopefully, the tips shared here can turn bath time into an enjoyable bonding experience between you and your feline furkid.
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