Second Chance: How To Freshen the Feline

Second Chance: How To Freshen the Feline

A creature that can so beautifully emulate the flow of water like we cats can should not harbor such a longstanding hatred and fear, but the fact is most domestic cats do not enjoy getting wet. Some will even lift their noses at the thought of walking over a damp floor. So, do cats need baths and if so how do you bathe a feline friend?

Lady Grey

I often wonder why I hate water so much when, in the wild, there are many species of big cats who actually enjoy getting wet. Tigers and jaguars like to soak, most likely because their usual habitat is a hot environment and water helps keep them cool. (Tigers will actually swim in deep water and have been observed catching fish.)

A big reason you don’t see domestic cats splashing jubilantly in water is that we evolved so that our coats absorb, rather than deflect, moisture, so that it is harder for us to dry off. Fortunately, in most cases, we do not need to be washed with water because we groom ourselves naturally, making regular brushing adequate to keep us looking clean and comfortable.

However, there are unfortunate occasions when giving a cat a bath is necessary, for example, when a cat has soiled herself in the litter box or rolled in something that our kind of bathing can’t clean – or sometimes we may need flea or fungicidal medications.

In those instances the best way to give a cat a bath is to make it quick and efficient to reduce our stress and yours. So start by ensuring you have all the necessary supplies handy before you begin: rubber gloves (even the most placid feline may scratch during a bath), feline-friendly shampoo, a large towel, and a small cloth to clean the face.

For your comfort I recommend using the sink and following my step-by-step procedure for how to give a cat a bath.

Fill the sink with about 2 or 3 inches of lukewarm water then wet your cat from the shoulders to the tail and apply shampoo. Just like your own hair, lather and rinse thoroughly.

Since most cats really hate having water splashed on their face, use a damp washcloth to gently clean your cat’s head. After a thorough rinsing, lift your cat onto a large towel and fold it around her. Rub as much water from her fur as possible.

If you absolutely can’t bear the thought of washing your own cat or want to make sure they hold someone else to blame for the experience, you can always pay a professional, who can also do ear cleaning and nail clipping.

My name Lady Grey. I am lovely and maintain impressive grooming habits, as all true ladies do. I am a three-year-old female Tabby with luscious soft grey fur. My former people abandoned me and my friend Twilight so I am looking for someone more worthy of my abundance of affection. I adore attention and am surprisingly agile for someone so refined. I get along well with other cats, who can’t help but like me, as I am sure you will when you come to meet me.

If you don’t mind the canine creatures who have to be bathed more often (and typically enjoy it), you might also consider adopting lovely Lyric, a sweet five-year-old female Border Collie mix. Lyric does really well with other dogs and loves to cuddle with her people. Although petite, she can play with the big dogs too. She walks well on a leash although can be spooked by cars and other loud things. But Lyric enjoys outdoor adventures and makes friends wherever she goes.

Vetting the Vet: Dr. Michelle Dally, DVM, J.D. is Medical Director of Second Chance Humane Society. She also has a private practice, Dally Veterinary Medicine, 333 S. Elizabeth Street, Ridgway, Colorado. Her service area is  San Miguel Mesas, Placerville, Ridgway, Ouray, and Montrose. For more on Dr. Dally, go here.

Michelle & Wallowby

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