On giving a cat a bath

Yes. I also took humorous photos for you, but they didn’t come out since it’s night time and it’s dark.

But let’s talk about giving a cat a bath.

Many of the visitors to my household claim that Loki is shy, and rather skittish. I suppose that for them this is true. However, Loki lets me ruthlessly play with him for hours on end and he loves every minute of it. Sometimes he tries to sneak his not inconsiderable bulk into my lap, and he insinuates his way into the Sunday paper like a worm. He tolerates all sorts of things from me that he won’t take from anyone else, which is a bit mysterious, really. This is, however, a useful thing when one is plotting to give him a bath.

You see, Loki loves the shower. He has a bit of a fetish with it, really, and anyone who leaves the bathroom door open while they shower will be treated to a feline visit. Sometimes he sits outside and plays with the shower curtain–sometimes he comes in and winds around your ankles, playing with soap bubbles and chasing streams of water. One can engage in a lively game of chase with the aid of the detachable shower head, and usually sneak in a good scrooble in the process. This would be terribly convenient for bath, but alas his adoration of the shower has limits, and he gets bored after a few moments, or when he gets too wet.

Loki’s obsession with water is by no means limited to the shower–he enjoys nothing more than taking an afternoon to hurl the contents of his water bowl around the kitchen floor, and any cup of liquid left out and about will be subject to his investigations within minutes.

But giving him a bath requires a bit of careful maneuvering.

The first thing to realize when bathing a cat is that you are going to have a bath too. It’s best to prepare the bathroom with numerous towels. Find a good pet safe shampoo, in case you can’t get it all off. Trim your cat’s nails on bathing day. It’s also good to do your cat bathing on a warm day–barring that, make sure you have a heater and a hot water bottle prepared for the wet, infuriated cat.

The next thing is that one should build up gradually to cat bathing. In Loki’s case, this begins with waiting until he follows you into the bathroom and shutting the door. Then, I proceed to take a shower normally, playing with him if he’s so inclined. Remember, you want to make this into a fun new game, not a traumatizing experience, because you may want to bathe your cat again. Or perhaps you want a cat who is not neurotic and deranged. After several days of this, he is lulled into a false sense of security, and I strike.

Since Loki is a tolerant sort of cat, I lull him into the shower proper and proceed to rapidly hose him with the detachable shower head on a gentle setting. I also make sure the water is a little cooler than I usually take it, to avoid burning.

We try to turn this into a game, in preparation for the soaping. Soaping is best engaged in rapidly–go for loose general coverage and work on particularly needful bits later. I recommend turning the shower off during this portion of the bath, to minimalize feline stress. Remember: all the soap you put onto the cat has to come off the cat at some point, so proceed with caution. I usually scrooble him thoroughly while soaping, which serves a two part purpose of making this seem fun while also getting down to the skin with the soap. Stay away from the cat’s eyes, obviously. (You may simply want to avoid the head altogether and touch it up later with a damp towel.) Avoid other tender bits as well unless you are using a very gentle soap. At this point, if your feline has not started emitting cries of distress, it will soon.

Other feline members of the household will gather in front of the bathroom door, in preparation for mocking.

Once soaped and scrubbed to your satisfaction, turn the shower back on (check the temperature!) and rinse the cat off. Try to rinse thoroughly.

After rinsing is complete, release the cat into the rest of the bathroom (which you have covered in towels, right?) Bathe yourself. Try to ignore the angry sputterings from behind the toilet.

Exit the shower and garb yourself (towel, bathrobe, whatever. Just cover up those tender bits.) Drag the cat out from wherever it’s hiding and give it a quick rub down with a towel. Now you see why I recommended nail trimming, don’t you? If the cat will tolerate being wrapped in a towel and picked up, do so, and deposit it next to something warm. It will promptly vacate the area and hide somewhere dark and cold, but at least you can say you did something.

Loki usually slinks back after a few moments in the linoleum purgatory of the kitchen and takes up a cautious station next to the heater, licking himself. If briskly toweled first, he doesn’t take much time to dry. Strangely enough, he purrs during the entire shower process, even when he’s also yowling. He also generally forgives me within ten minutes. At the moment, for example, he is gently steaming and purring on my lap, overflowing slightly. Every now and then a large drop from his tail hits Mr. Bell’s ear, which twitches. You, however, may be less fortunate in your feline hygiene adventures.

At least you can assure yourself that somewhere in your house, presumably getting covered in dust, is a clean cat.

[cat bathing]