How can you make sure you have completely rinsed off the shampoo?

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There is considerable debate about the wisdom of using shampoo on a cat. One of the misconceptions is that shampoo “gets rid of fleas.” Any bath will kill fleas on a cat, but it does not address the eggs the fleas have left behind in bedding and upholstery. Many groomers insist that for normal bathing, clean water works fine. If, however, shampoo is used, thorough rinsing is essential, especially if a “flea” shampoo is involved.

Repeated shampooing of the cat’s coat is not necessary. Thorough rinsing is much more important. If the cat is not tolerant of the spray nozzle on the sink, have several large mugs of room or body temperature water on hand. Never use water or shampoo on a cat’s head as this endangers the cat’s sensitive eyes and ears.

To rinse the coat, pour the clean water over the body working down the center of the back to ensure that the stream courses down and through the fur. It is recommended that the bath begin with about three to four inches of water in the sink. If possible, drain this water away before rinsing or, if working in a double sink, move the pet to the other side for rinsing.

Err on the side of caution, and rinse until you are certain the water draining off the cat is completely clear. If shampoo has been used, you do not want the cat to develop gastrointestinal distress from licking away the residue, nor do you want the animal’s skin to become irritated.

Although human shampoo is not overtly toxic to cats, it is usually scented, even if lightly. The fragrance is generally the source of the skin irritation, and psychologically, the cat isn’t going to want to smell like anything but himself. Cats live in a world dominated by scents, and they are very particular about their own “identity” as it is transmitted in that way.

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