The Gentle Art of Bathing a Cat

written by Marty Rudolph
The cat should witness no frightening preparations and he is in and out-- so soon being hugged in generous wrappings of dry towels and placed on the floor in a closed room; soon to begin grooming himself. This results in far less mess, less cleanup and a happier cat, I promise you. I hope you will use this with your fine research.

Here are the IMPORTANT KEYS:
  • The room is quiet. Running waterneed not be turned on
  • The water is causing a struggle. body temp and the animal isn't startled.
  • Use only diluted soap for efficient faster bathing and thorough rinsing!!!
  • Have many clean dry towels or blankets unfolded within reach to wrap around the dripping cat immediately upon rinsing, and to continue drying again and again. Don't skimp here--use your good towels and lots of them.
  • Purchase a nylon mesh laundry bag with a drawstring top about 20" x 30" in size, to use to contain the cat. He is far safer and not terrified as when he could thrash around. Insert the animal into the bag firmly and carefully, tightening the drawstring above the cat's shoulders only enough to prevent his front legs from getting out. NOTE: become familiar with how to slide the top open and closed, thereby avoiding an undue struggle to remove cat from a wet bag as soon as he is wrapped in drying towels. This entire procedure can be done alone, but an assistant standing by who is not unknown to cat and speaks little, could be a fine help!
  • Find big jugs to hold water for rinsing. They must have handles and large openings. Save the ones from bird seed or kitty litter perhaps.
  • Don't wash cat's head until he is out of tub, and then use warm washcloths.
1. Secure cat alone in nearby pleasant room.

2. Place a container or waste basket, just large enough to dip the cat into, in one end of the bathtub and fill it deep with tepid water. Stir into the water approximately 1/4 cup of baby-type (no tears) shampoo, mixing well. Fill the remaining bathtub with about 12" of tepid water. Place two 2-gallon big-mouth jugs, or 4 gallon milk type jugs full of tepid water within arms' reach.

3. Stack by bathtub, many unfolded absorbent towels, (use flannel sheets, cotton rug, bathrobe. Have 2-3 washcloths within hands' reach for covering eyes, drying eyes and face washing.

4. When bath is prepared, join cat in the holding room and swiftly and purposely place mesh laundry bag (folded bag back on itself) over bottom half of cat and pull bag up to his shoulders. Carefully tighten drawstring just so feet cannot escape. Your manner and soothing sounds will reassure throughout. Hug cat gently, and proceed to bathroom, closing the room.

5. Holding cat with your two hands on his mid-section, gently lower the bagged cat into soapy water up to neck. Massage smoothly squeezing his entire body to clean rapidly for a minute or so. Lift from soapy water, squeezing water off a bit, and lower into clean water in main body of bathtub. Holding firmly, pull cat gently through water; rinsing cat by massaging all the while. (You may release drain in tub now.) Holding cat under front legs with one hand while letting him "stand" in water, begin to pour jugs of clean water over him getting thoroughly clean and rinsed. When all clean water is poured, grab an extra large towel and while holding cat over tub, wrap cat in it fast. Now you are done and can remove cat from bag while wrapping and drying him with one towel after another. Listen! He will be purring before you expect to hear it.

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