site news header
Updated: 25th October 2006
Cats and Scratching Litter Box Trouble
Catnip and How It Affects Cats Trimming your Cat's Claws
Mats in My Cat's Fur! Tub Baths for Cats

Tub Baths for Cats

A bright, shiny coat is a sign of vigor and good health. We want our pets to look and feel their very best, and regular grooming helps achieve this goal.

Here are a few tips on bathing to help your cat look his or her very best.

Cats groom themselves very well and do not necessarily need to be bathed regularly – which is fortunate since most of them don’t like it! However, most veterinarians do recommend that cats be bathed now and then. Of course, it’s undeniable – cats don’t like getting wet, but cats can be trained to tolerate a bath. (If you have the opportunity to introduce them to baths and get them used to the tub when they’re kittens, they won’t be so scared of it.)

Obviously, giving your cat a bath can be a difficult procedure, and some cats will become very distressed and even aggressive. Rather than push your cat and your patience to their limits, don’t let such a struggle escalate into a full-blown war. Do the best you can and allow your cat the mercy of a bath cut short, if necessary. Praise the fact that your kitty submitted to at least a partial washing and attempt the bathing process again tomorrow. If your cat is only in need of a touch-up or spot cleaning, try bath wipes as an alternative to a soaking in the tub. If you want all-over cleansing but don’t want the hassle with soap and water, try our foaming cleanser. Such products are sold in our Health & Grooming category.

Before you bathe, you need to brush. Wet hair is hard to work with if it is tangled or matted. A thorough brushing beforehand removes loose hair and significantly improves the effectiveness of the shampoo in cleaning down to the skin. And it makes bathing much less of a 'hairy' job. Also, brushing before the bath makes the brushing after the bath much easier.

Grooming tools: • Slicker Brushes are an ideal first step in a grooming routine because they help to remove loose hair and small mats.
• Shedding Blades remove excess hair from heavy shedders, to keep it from ending up on clothing and furniture.
• Rakes and Combs are designed to help detangle long hair.
• Dematting Tools (like our own Matbreaker) are recommended for use on stubborn mats and tangles. Such tools help to thin out the coat without affecting coat length.
• Rubber Brushes remove loose hair and they provide the bonus of a healthy skin massage to encourage the production of the skin’s natural oils and adds extra body and shine to the coat. Rubber Brushes are also great for use during bathing.
• Nylon or Natural Bristle Brushes remove dead surface hair and dander, and they help distribute natural skin oil to give a finished look.

Why does my cat's fur get matted?
Your cat’s fur is comprised of two types of coat, the undercoat and top coat. When cats shed their fur, usually the undercoat sheds first, but it does not drop like the coat of a dog. Instead, the loose hair from the undercoat remains underneath the top coat. This causes the problem of mats and tangles. Ideally your cat should be groomed on a daily basis, using a comb or slicker to strip out the undercoat that causes the problem.

If your kitty's coat does get extremely matted, this will cause the cat discomfort and often the only remedy is to resort to using scissors. For safety, use scissors with curved blades and ensure that the points are facing away from the cat. Be extremely careful so that you do not cut into your cat's skin, which is very flexible.

Scissors will be required to cut out severe mats, but we carry a product called Matbreaker that we’ve been selling for years, and it’s a proven effective tool for keeping a coat mat-free! Matbreaker can remove smaller mats safely (the blades are curved and the sharp edge cuts only the fur and not the skin), and the Matbreaker is especially useful for thinning a pet’s coat – gently “brush” your cat with the Matbreaker and the blades will take out some of the underlying coat without affecting the overall length of your cat’s coat.

If your pet is matted down to the skin, see your groomer or veterinarian about having the coat shaved. Here’s where you can save a lot of money if you can take the time to groom your cat’s coat daily to avoid nasty matting: a veterinarian will shave your cat for about $35 to $55, but anesthesia/sedation is required MOST of the time when shaving is done, so tack on another $40 to $70 for that component of the job! Naturally, the price of veterinary services will vary across the country. Your vet may charge more or less for shaving a cat. After the shave (or “all-over clip” as it’s sometimes called) keep up a routine of regular grooming as the new fur grows in.

Regular brushing/combing is essential no matter what type of coat your pet has. Start at the head and work toward the tail. Use firm, but gentle strokes with an emphasis on gentle. Pulling or ripping through tangles and mats hurts your pet and quickly erodes trust. Brushing can and should be a pleasurable experience, so take your time. In addition to removing dead hair and tangles, and keeping the skin healthy; daily brushing and combing also helps prevent the cat from ingesting loose hairs (which leads to the formation of hair-balls in the stomach). If you need a hairball remedy, try the ones in our Grooming category, or try growing Oats for your cat to eat.

When it comes to the bath, be especially careful with shampoo selection. Be sure to use a shampoo made for cats. Products manufactured for people are too harsh for your pet’s delicate skin. Most “people” shampoos are designed to strip a human’s hair and skin of oil. This would result in a dry, flaky coat for your cat. A cat’s skin is more sensitive than a human’s. A cat is covered with (and protected by) fur. A human’s skin is tougher; it has to be, because it lacks such a protective fur coat. Even the mildest of human shampoos can cause your cat’s skin to dry out. Quality pet shampoos and cleansers are pH-balanced to be milder to compensate for the difference.

First of all, bathe your cat in warm water. A cat’s body temperature is higher than humans. A hot bath for a human is a normal temperature for cats.

Second, the cat needs to feel as secure as possible. Put a towel, bath mat, wire screen, or even a wooden board on the tub floor. Your cat will instinctively reach out for something (anything!) to cling to during the bath. Slipping and sliding around a slick tub will frustrate and fluster your cat. (It’s even better if the grippable surface is elevated a little out of the water – that way, your cat doesn’t have to stand with his paws in the water the whole time.)

Third, use only enough water to get him wet and rinse him; usually no deeper than his “knees.” This should be enough water to give him a bath, without creating that frantic sensation of “sink or swim.”

Always give your cat a treat and plenty of special attention after the bath.

The key to a successful bath is to make sure you rinse your pet thoroughly. Even when it seems like the product is rinsed out, rinse again a few more times. Soap residue will dull the coat and leave the skin feeling itchy. Here’s a helpful hint – use a plastic cup, instead of a noisy, splattery sprayer, to pour the rinse water over your cat’s body.

Use a soft towel to absorb as much water as you can. Wait until after your cat is completely dry to brush. When hair is damp, it is much more susceptible to breaking as it is pulled through the bristles of a comb or brush. (This goes for human hair, too!)

  • Danger Kitty!
  • Common Facts

  • toy spotlight
    Untitled Document
    It's getting time to bring the outdoors inside. Start grasshopperwith this squeaking grasshopper. This may look like an average grasshopper, but give it the slightest tap and it will chirp and squeak it way into your cats hearts. 3 1/2"x1