What items should you have on hand when giving your cat a bath?

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Anyone who has ever bathed a cat will tell you that you don’t get a second try. Having all the supplies on hand and laid out ready to be used offers the best chance of success.

First, make sure that the room is warm and reasonably secure. The sinks in the kitchen or bathroom are the best places to bathe a pet because working on an elevated surface is easier. Make sure no outside doors are open, and if possible, close the doors to the room where the bath will occur.

You will want several large, clean towels as well as a couple of washcloths. Never pour water over or use shampoo on a cat’s head. You’ll want a warm clean washcloth to gently wipe the animal’s face, moving in the same direction as the fur.

Place a rubber mat in the bottom of the sink, since cats panic when they can’t get traction with their paws. You’ll also want several large cups or mugs. Some cats don’t mind the spray nozzle on the sink, but others are calmer if rinse water is slowly poured over their coat from a cup.

All water should be at room temperature or slightly warmer. Test the water against the inside of your wrist as you would baby formula to ensure it is neither too warm nor too cold.

Use only a veterinarian-recommended feline shampoo. Human shampoo is usually scented and unappealing to cats and could contain ingredients that are harmful to cats. The fragrance may irritate the cat’s skin, and it will certainly annoy the cat itself, who prefers to smell like himself. (Licking residue from scented shampoo can also cause gastrointestinal distress.)

Finally, have both a comb and brush on hand. Never scrub at a cat’s coat to dry the hair. Use a blotting motion instead. Wet hair will mat much more easily than dry. As the coat is drying, comb it gently if the cat will allow you to do so. If the cat has had enough, let him take care of drying on his own, but make sure he has a warm place to stay in the process.

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