Cats can be fun, excited, and curious, but there is one adventure not many would be thrilled to embark on – bathing. Yes, our feline friends are not particularly fond of getting doused in water, but it is inevitable. Their routine cleaning forces their humans to face the million-dollar question: How to calm a cat during a bath?
Clearly, no one fancies the idea of forcing their frantic pet into a bathtub, risking an angry rebellion and escape. So, they have to come up with ways that make the process bearable for the cat, if not enjoyable.
And this is what we are going to explore. Let us try to figure out ways to keep the trickiest of these tiny bundles of joy calm.
How to Calm a Cat During Bath?
Since the overwhelming majority of cats hate the touch of water, it is quite a task to bathe them. But certainly, there are a few things you could try to keep their nerves under control.
First and foremost, cats sense your energy, so you need to stay calm and let it translate into the way you handle the situation. Even if the cat panics and tries to wiggle out of your hands, do not get upset; use a comforting and soothing tone, encourage them, and bathe with slow movements.
Better ask someone to help in washing down the kitty. It would be easier if one person, someone the cat trusts and likes, hold it while the other bathes it. Try burning some scented candles or plugging cat pheromone diffusers to calm the cat. Wash them as per their preference, in a small basin or the bathtub.
Bathe them using water from a cup, for they might get scared of running water. Only use a shampoo meant for cats and no other product, for it may harm their skin. And be careful not to pour water on their head as it will freak them out. Instead, wipe their face with a damp wash cloth or cat wipe.
If it is your first time bathing a cat, this 7-step cat bathing guide may help with your first kitten bath.
Ways to Calm a Cat During Bath?
There is no magic wand to solve your troubles with a single swish. There are indeed a few breeds who do enjoy playing with water, such as the Maine Coon. But the water-loving cat club is incredibly small. Most cats would run the other way at the idea of going into the water.
Nonetheless, they need to be rid of all the dander and dirt. So, you need to carefully take small steps, be ahead of the game and make it a peaceful experience for your tiny friend.
1. Stay Calm & Be In Charge
The best way to keep your cat calm during a bath is to be calm yourself. Remember you are the adult here, and for this session to finish successfully, you need to have control over the situation. It would be unfair to the pet to make it feel like the one person it could rely on is not in control of the situation.
Cats can sense when we panic, and it adds to the stress they are already feeling. You need to lead this one and keep your composure while a jumpy cat tries to dodge you and run out of the bathroom.
Here is how to go about it;
- Calmly lower your cat into a tub of lukewarm water, wet its fur, pour the shampoo, and massage it in.
- Use a calming tone if it panics, and offer soothing words.
- Employing gentle slow movements will help contain the cat’s irritation.
- It will try every opportunity to slip out of your hold and dash out. Close the door to prevent this.
- Proceed with each step of bathing your kitty without getting angry or worked up.
2. Get a Helper
Unless the cat is comfortable with the bath time, you would need someone to hold it while you do the bathing. Again, remember this is a difficult time for your cat, and it needs someone it recognizes and trusts to help through it. It would be a disservice to the feline to bring someone it is not familiar with—it will only aggravate the situation.
3. Investigate Their Bathing Preferences
Each cat has a personality of its own with individual preferences and likings. While we do know most cats would absolutely abhor the use of a faucet, there are several other things to be mindful of when bathing them.
For instance, the type of basin used to clean them up might be a big issue, and so would the way they are being held. This is more of a hit-and-trial thing; try various things like a small basin, up in the sink, or down in the bathtub until you get it right.
Similarly, the holding position choices will vary for each individual. Some would appreciate it when they are held by the arms, while others like to be held closer to be comfortable enough for a bath. Think of it as a dynamic process, try something and see how the pet responds, and go forward from there accordingly.
4. Create a Soothing Environment
People enjoy lighting some sweet-smelling candles to create a soothing bath for themselves. You could try the trick for your kitty as well. The trouble is that many essential oils are toxic to cats, and the presence of a candle spiked with one could be problematic.
Instead, use cat pheromone diffusers to keep your anxious cat calm. These are devices that plug into a socket and release scents that only your cat recognizes and calm their nerves. You can find one easily in a store or online shop. It would be a good idea to consult your vet before you do so.
5. No Running Water
Since cats do not appreciate water touching their skin, it would be wise not to expose them to running water. The sound could possibly be upsetting for your pet. This should translate into getting your water resources ready before the cat is brought into the bathroom for its cleaning session.
The tub in which you are going to wet its fur should have a 2-inch layer of lukewarm water. After you have thoroughly massaged in the shampoo, use water from the bucket of lukewarm water on standby near you to wash it out.
6. Use a Rubber Mat
Besides the water, another thing that could possibly upset your cat is the erosion of control as it tries to maintain its balance in a slippery bathtub. We do not see why you should put your cat through something you would not like for yourself.
Simply provide a rubber mat in the bathtub so your cat can hold onto it. If you are using a small tub instead, place a folded towel at the base to serve the same purpose.
7. Use a Cup for Bathing
Did we mention cats do not like water splashed over them? One of the most important things you could do to calm your cat during a bath is to use a cup for bathing it instead of hosing it down with a faucet. While there might be exceptions, and if your little friend enjoys a shower, entertain it by all means.
But in most cases, they would not appreciate running water coming at them with speed. Do away with the hassle by using a cup to pour water over them slowly. Wash out all the residue to avoid any build-up or consequent irritations later.
8. Use Cat Shampoo
The key to keeping your cat calm during a bath is to use a product specifically designed for its skin and fur. Pets should never be exposed to products meant for human use as they could have unpleasant consequences for them.
Cat skin is very different from ours, with a different pH level and care demands. Human products could be too harsh for them, stripping their skin of its moisture, leaving it too dry, and possibly at the risk of getting dandruff.
Excessive dryness could lead to a plethora of other skin issues, which could best be avoided by using a product carefully formulated to suit their skin and do the job.
9. Wipe, Not Wash the Face
A cat’s face is a strictly no-go area when it comes to bathing it. If they hate being splashed with water elsewhere on the body, the detestation multiplies manifold for their faces. It is therefore not advised to pour water over their head. But that does not mean you leave it out of the cleaning process.
Simply take a washcloth, dampen it with lukewarm water, use it to gently and thoroughly wipe down their face. If it feels like too much to bear for the cat, rely on a cat facial wipe. Similarly, use cat ear wipes to clean their ears.
10. Bathe Them Slowly and Calmly
Quick frantic movements will drive an already panicked cat to craziness. The kitty is very small compared to you; it is already freaking out and cannot speak to let you know how it feels. Be considerate of all these things when you bathe them.
For that to happen, besides using a calm tone and gentle behavior, use slow, gentle movements as well. Use your touch to make them feel at ease. Let them be comfortable before you proceed from one step to the other.
11. Offer Treats While You Bathe Them
It is your pet you are dealing with, and chances are you do know more about it than anyone else. A great way to keep it calm while bathing is to offer it treats for its patience to endure. Having a helper on standby is useful in more than one way. Not only do you get assistance in keeping the cat in the tub while you rinse it, but your kitty also gets some entertainment on the side.
While most would keep the treats for an after-bath special reward, you may incorporate some during the bath if it is a particularly tough kitty to bathe. Preferably it should be something they could easily lick to make it go seamlessly with the entire process.
Tips for a Peaceful Kitty Bath
While we did share how you can keep your kitty calm during a bath, there are a few tips to keep it safe and smooth for your cat and yourself.
- Clip the cat’s nails before the bath. Trimming your cat’s nails would not only save you from any scratches while you attempt to clean the cat, but it is also better for their hygiene.
- Brush the fur to remove broken hair beforehand. It will help you not just get rid of unwanted hair at the bottom of the tub but also remove any tangles and make bathing easier. Not doing so will end up choking your drain and increasing your trouble
- Use water at a comfortable temperature. You may either see for yourself by feeling the water or using a baby bath monitor to assess if it is okay for your little friend.
- Quickly wrap them in a big enough towel after a bath and thoroughly dry them up. They hate getting into that tub and would appreciate getting out and getting rid of all the water soaking their fur. You will be setting them for what to expect after each bath.
- Reward it after the bath to make them associate it with something positive. You may offer special treats, extra cuddles, or something fun to reward them for their patience and encourage them for future baths.
Final Word: How to Calm a Cat During Bath?
To keep cats calm and comfortable during a bath, get hold of your nerves. Be calm, use soothing movements and encouraging words, and if required, employ pheromone diffusers. Better employ help while you are at it. Wash it down using a cup with water that is at a comfortable temperature, and hold them the way they like.