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Bath time

     Surprisingly, some cats like water and will tolerate baths, but for most cats a bath is a hair raising experience. Owners often ask, how frequently their cat should be bathed. There is no set schedule for bathing a cat, and some cats may never need a bath. Factors to consider when deciding about a bath are:

ē Greasiness of the coat
ē Presence of fleas
ē Dirtiness of the coat
ē Smell
ē Discoloration

     Many cats live to a ripe old age without ever getting a bath, but all cats look and smell better after being bathed. Baths can play a role in treating some dermatological conditions and in removing external parasites such as fleas. It is important to use a proper shampoo on your cat. Most shampoos for human hair do not have the right pH balance for a catís skin and should not be used. Baby shampoo is acceptable, as are specially formulated pet shampoos. Another option would be to use organic-based shampoos, like this one made out of flowers. Many of the insecticides found in flea shampoos can be toxic to all cats or specifically to kittens, so be very careful if you want to use a flea shampoo. Make sure it is labeled for use with cats and kittens. With the advent of safe, effective, once a month flea preventives, flea shampoos should not be a necessity. Before starting a bath, you should trim your catís toenails. This will decrease the potential for injury if the cat gets upset. You should also comb out any mats in the hair, because they will tighten and be harder to remove after they are wet.

Hereís how to bathe a cat:

1. Place a towel or mat at the bottom of the tub or sink so the cat does not slide.
2. If possible, use a faucet that has a sprayer attachment.
3. Gently wet the catís coat with warm water. Hold the cat by her scruff, if necessary.
4. Massage the shampoo into the coat, rubbing away from the head.
5. Use a toothbrush with some lather to clean the catís face, being careful not to get any soap in the animalís eyes. If shampoo does get in the catís eyes, rinse with saline solution from a bottle.
6. Let the cat soak for a couple of minutes.
7. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
8. Squeeze the excess water out of the coat and down the legs and tail.
9. Thoroughly towel dry the cat.
10. Use a blow dryer on low or medium to dry the coat. Higher settings can cause burning if you are not careful.
11. Comb or brush the hair during the drying process.

     If you are fortunate enough to have a cooperative kitty, the process will go well. For cats who are scared or anxious, though, the process can be a disaster if you are not careful. Expect the cat to try to get out of the sink. Consider wearing an apron or old clothes in case you get splashed or have to grab a wet cat. Close the door to the room to help prevent kittyís escape.



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