Cats and Water
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
I had just moved up to Connecticut to live with my fiancé. He had adopted a kitten and I was tasked with looking after him while Thomas was at work. I brought Mr. Smudge, a beautiful blue eyed white kitten with a little smudge of grey on his head, outside to play, supervised of course. He got into some red clay, it made him look like he was bleeding, so I decided to give him a bath. I had never given a cat a bath before. I had given a dog a bath, and it was sloppy, but the dog enjoyed it. A cat couldn't be too much different, could it?
I brought him in. He was still young and small. He was 12 weeks old at the most, still in his cute kitten stage. I brought him in and took my shirt off because I figured it would get wet. I brought him over to the kitchen sink. He was small enough for the sink and that way I could stand up and bathe him. I started the water and let it get warm, then I put him to it. What happened next is something I'll never forget. I thought this cat was going to kill me! I put him to the water, and faster than a blink, he flipped himself over and attached himself to my neck. His claws were embedded in my skin, and I couldn't pull him off. I screamed in pain, he screamed in fear, and we both ended up at opposite ends in two different bedrooms. All of this happened in a matter of seconds. I had scratch marks all the way down my neck. He was afraid to come out of the guest room.
I can laugh about the incident now, but at the time I was traumatized and in a lot of pain. I learned very quickly what not to do, but I still didn't know how to give a cat a bath.
Years later I tried again with another cat in another state, and it was completely different. It's not that cats don't like water, or even getting wet. Cats don't like to be surprised by water, that's why spray bottles work. But that is for another post. I have never met a cat who enjoyed a bath, but if done the right way you can do it without drama or trauma.
Before you start, make sure that you have everything you will need within reach. I use Dawn soap. You may need three or four towels. Sometimes it takes more than one towel to dry a cat. I also use a large cup to pore the water over my cat. That way you can control how wet your cat gets and it's great for rinsing off the soap.
Place a towel on the bottom of the tub or sink. That will give your cat has something to latch onto. Make sure that the water is not too cold or too hot. You want the water to be about the same temperature as you would a baby bottle. Keep one hand on kitty and use the other to do the work. Make sure you don't forget to wet the belly. Using a towel or a washcloth to wet the belly and inside of legs works well. Very gently lather kitty making sure you don't get soap on kitty’s face. Rinse well, and then wrap kitty is a dry towel. I usually put them on my lap (sitting on the toilet cover)
if I’m using the bathtub. I wipe them gently and this is a good time to have a flee comb if it is a new kitty or a soft brush. You can use a blow dryer, but my cats do not like the noise. Make sure she is not dripping wet, and she will do the rest.
If you are really lucky, you might find a cat that loves to swim. They do exist.