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6 Things You Should NOT Do When Giving a Cat a Bath

Thanks to two lazy cats who were like teenage boys -- they lay around and at times got a bit smelly -- I've learned a lot about bathing cats.

 |  May 19th 2014  |   57 Contributions


My name is Eden, and I’m a pet owner who raises lazy cats. I’m not sure how I got into this role, but my track record of owning two cats who refused to groom themselves outweighs the one cat I had who used to neurotically lick all his hair off. I apparently can never find a happy medium for cat parenting when it comes to kitty hygiene. 

If only bath time was greeted so calmly in my house. Cats at bathtime by Shutterstock

The neurotic one was pretty awesome, albeit a little bit strange-looking with his patchy bald spots, but he was a cool and clean little dude. Now the other two, they were just as sweet, but they were lazy. It was like housing two teenage boys. They just laid around all the time, demanding food, sleeping all day, and making quite the ruckus at night. Also like teenage boys, they sometimes had a stank about them. Since the two of them seemed completely unable and unwilling to take care of the issue themselves, that meant the work was left up to me.

Here are my cats, just lolling around like lazy teenage boys. (Photo by Eden Strong)

So after seven years of bathing cats, this is a short list of all the things you should NOT do while bathing a cat.

1. Do not let your cat know that he is about to be bathed

You must sneak up on the cat, kidnap him, and smuggle him into the bathroom where you will lock the doors, barricade him in, and then turn on the water. If there are any cats to be bathed after this one, make sure you turn music on very loudly to drown out the screaming that is sure to be coming from not only your cat, but most likely you as well. You wouldn’t want to tip off your next victims. I mean other cats.

Under no circumstances let your cat know he is about to get a bath. Cat receiving an unwelcome bathby Shutterstock

2. Do not fill the tub up with water

There are many, many reasons that I advise against this. Sure, it seems like a great idea -- soap him up, and then dunk him clean -- but I assure you it’s not. What will ensue will be a scene straight out of some Animal Planet alligator wrestling show where the two of you will both be fighting for your lives while you attempt, in vain, to keep his sharp teeth away from you.

You may even fall into the tub while trying to restrain the little beast. I won’t comment on that personally, but I will say that no one can blame a person if that were to happen. You never know what might take place during a fight for your life.

Most of that water will go over you.

3. Do not take a shower with your cat

Enclosing yourself in a confined place where your feline friend cannot escape might seem like a pleasant alternative to having to physically restrain your cat in the bathtub, but I assure you it’s not. I learned this the hard way, when my cat freaked out at the water flowing under him towards the drain and decided to climb me like a tree. Thankfully, I’ve blocked out most of that incident, but what I do remember is screaming “GET IT OFF OF ME” to my boyfriend and walking around for the next week looking like I had gotten into a fight with a squirrel.

This woman is taking her life in her hands. Woman and cat take shower by Shutterstock

4. Do not try it without backup

Do not be fooled by the fact that when you add water your cat shrinks down to half his size. Just because Fluffy went from a great big Persian pillow down to a hamster with eyes that now look way too big for his body, this animal still possess strength and speed that defies reason. You are going to need an extra set of hands to actually wash your feline friend while you battle to keep your skin in its original form while holding him down. You may also need someone to tend to your wounds in case you suffer enormous blood loss.

5. Do not try anything fancy

If you have any fabulous ideas like taping baby socks onto your tiny feline friend's feet to avoid being scratched, or wearing snow pants, bird gloves, and possibly a face shield while bathing your cat, forget it. Now, I’m not saying that I tried any or all of these things -- I’m just throwing it out there that I’m pretty damn sure none of these options work. No matter how much you want them to. Trust me.

There, that wasn't so bad, was it? Sure, your cat hates you, but at least he's clean now. Photo by Eden Strong.

6. Do not give you cat a bath at all -- just shave him!

Now, this is the most important lesson that I have learned while bathing my cats. Listen to me very closely, as this is the most important piece of information from this entire article: Forget the entire thing and just shave the damn cat. Seriously. Who needs all that shedding anyways? 

Shave the damn cat and call it a day. They love it. No more static cling, no more near-drowning experiences in the bathtub, not more hacking up hairballs. It’s like the cat version of awesome.

My shorthaired cat loved having even shorter hair for the summer.

If you aren’t brave enough to take the plunge and shave the cat, I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a couple alternatives to bathing your cat. Note: This is just for fun -- THEY ARE JOKES -- so don't write in and tell me I'm a monster.

Option No. 1: Saran wrap

Easily wraps around every available surface area and doesn’t bunch up too much around the face. Keeps all the stank and shedding tightly packed away. Bonus: Due to the clear nature of saran wrap, you can still see enough of the cat to tell them apart if you have more than one. You must be very, very careful, though, not to wrap the head or face up as this might cause severe respiratory distress.

We only did this for a second to really piss off the cat. Don't worry -- he loved it. (Photo by Eden Strong)

Option No. 2: Baby-footie pajamas

I like this option just because it doesn’t have the threat of potential suffocation, but it requires that you have at least a minimal knowledge in the use of scissors. I recommend buying the baby footie pajamas in size 6 to 9 months, as that seems to fit most average-size cats. If you have wood floors or tile, it’s nice to splurge and get the ones that have the “no slip” soles. Now, once you have purchased the pajamas, you are going to need to cut a hole for your cat’s tail. I highly recommend doing this while the cat is NOT wearing the pajamas. I’m not saying that I’ve never tried doing it with the pajama’s already on, I’m just saying that if I had to it (again), it would be very frightening for all involved, so I recommend against it.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m off to go brush my cat’s teeth. Wish me luck!

Have you ever bathed your cat? How long did it take you to recover? Is there any scarring? Share your war stories in the comments.

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About the author: Eden Strong is a quirky young woman with a love for most animals with fur. She readily admits to living her life completely devoid of most social graces and so far she's still alive. More of her crazy antics can be read on her blog, It Is Not My Shame to Bear

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