Before figuring out what mischief your cat has been up to, causing him to become a dirty ball of fur, you decide to bathe him. After some struggle, you manage to bathe him. Now that you are done, he cannot stop shivering.
Why is my cat shivering after a bath?
Your cat is shivering because he is feeling cold. The same thing can happen if your cat gets caught in the rain or heavy snowfall.
Like people, cats can shiver when they feel cold. It is an automatic reaction where the muscles alternate between relaxing and tightening. In essence, shivering is the body’s way of warming itself up, especially in a cold environment.
Shivering begins when the ambient temperature drops to a level lower than the body’s. Typically, a cat’s normal body temperature will hover between 100.5 and 102.5 Fahrenheit.
By shivering, people and animals increase heat production in their bodies by as much as 500 percent. However, the body can only shiver and warm itself for only a certain period. If you or your cat cannot find a respite from the cold, the muscles begin to grow tired as their supply of sugar (which is used as a fuel) begins to deplete.
In your newly-bathed cat, his shivering can be compounded by the addition of water into the equation.
What to do if your cat is shivering after a bath
Even if you have used warm water in bathing your cat, the remaining water on his fur can make him feel cold, even if the temperature is relatively warm.
To stop your cat from shivering, you should dry him off as quickly as possible. You can wrap him in a towel and then move him to a warmer area in your home. If he is not afraid of the sound of a hairdryer, you can use one to dry his coat faster.
Some cats can shiver and breathe heavily after taking a bath. If your cat exhibits both symptoms, it can mean that he has been stressed by the bath.
In this scenario, the next thing that you need to do after drying your cat is to calm him down. The best way to do that is to isolate him in a warm and dark area in your home. Leave your cat inside the room for about half an hour, checking on him and his breathing rate every five minutes.
If things do not go back to normal after 30 minutes, go to the veterinarian immediately.
Reasons why a cat shivers
Aside from shivering after taking a bath, your cat may also shiver for other reasons.
1. Your cat is in pain.
If your cat is shivering or shaking, he may be in pain. Although some cats are good at hiding pain and illnesses, your pet might not be able to hide his pain because of this involuntary movement.
Watch out for other signs like agitation and hissing. Before bringing your pet to the vet, it is a good idea to wrap him in a thick fabric like a towel or blanket. This will protect you from unnecessary injuries from your cat.
2. Your cat is in shock.
A cat that is in a state of shock will exhibit other symptoms aside from shivering. These symptoms may include having a rapid heart rate, coldness, and weakness.
3. Your cat is afraid.
It is also possible that your cat is shivering because he is afraid or stressed. Apart from shivering, he may display other symptoms like panting, dilated pupils, hissing, and being frozen in one place.
Find out what is causing fear in your pet and keep it away from your cat. Once you have removed his source of fear, focus your attention on your pet to calm him down.
4. Your cat is having a seizure.
Seizures are fairly uncommon in felines. But if your cat is having one, he will shiver. He may also show other symptoms like involuntary urination or defecation and unusual vocalization.
Bring your pet to the vet for immediate medical attention.
5. Your cat is old.
Elderly cats cannot tolerate cooler temperatures like younger felines. If your cat is old and on the thin side, he might be shivering because it is too cold for him inside your home.
You might want to consider investing in a heated cat bed or simply place a hot water bottle wrapped in fabric.
How to give your cat a bath
Cats are fastidious creatures, spending an inordinate amount of time cleaning and grooming themselves. That, however, does not mean that they cannot use the occasional bath.
How often you should bathe your cat will depend on a few factors. For example, kittens need to be bathed about thrice a week because they can get dirty more quickly than adult cats. On the other hand, adult cats can bathe anywhere between once a month to once every three to four months.
Cats with medium to long coats as well as those that spend time outdoors may also benefit immensely from regular bath time.
If you do not want bath time to be a struggle between you and your cat, here are a few helpful tips that you can follow.
1. Trim his claws
Even the sweetest cat can turn cranky when he figures out that it is time to take a bath. For your own protection, it is a good idea to keep your pet’s claws short.
2. Bathe your cat when it is warm and sunny
If it is possible to schedule your cat’s bath time, choose a day when it is warm and sunny. This will minimize your cat’s discomfort and his shivering.
3. Tire your pet out
Your cat will be less hesitant about the idea of taking a bath if you tire him out. Play with your cat first to help him expend some energy. Afterward, you can bring him to the bathroom.
4. Start by brushing his coat
Brushing your cat’s coat enables you to remove loose hair, debris, and even mats.
5. Place a non-slip mat beneath your cat
A non-slip mat will help your cat from slipping when things become bubbly. It can also provide him with some degree of comfort.
6. Use warm water
Make sure that you use warm, not hot nor cold water, in rinsing your cat. Rinse and shampoo your cat’s body but avoid getting his face and ears wet.
7. Do not use human products
Do not use soap or shampoo made for humans on your cat. These may contain ingredients that can irritate your pet.
Instead, use a product specially formulated for pets. It is a good idea to dilute your pet’s shampoo with water before applying it to his skin and coat.
8. Use a washcloth for your cat’s face
If your cat’s face is dirty, you can clean it using a moist washcloth. However, if you still cannot remove the dirt off your pet’s face, you can wet the washcloth with a diluted shampoo solution.
9. Rinse thoroughly
Once you are done lathering your cat’s body, be sure to rinse him thoroughly. It is vital to completely remove all traces of the shampoo. Otherwise, you risk your pet getting irritated.
10. Dry your cat
Once bath time is over, begin drying off your cat using a towel. After that, put him in a warm area in your home to facilitate faster drying. If your cat is not afraid of blow dryers, you can use one. Make sure that you put it on the lowest setting.
If your cat has a long coat, you should use a wide-toothed comb on his fur to remove tangles.
Warm and dry your shivering cat
If your cat is shivering after taking a bath, it simply means that his body is trying to warm itself up. Use a towel to facilitate quicker drying before bringing him to a warm area in your home.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi