• How To Bathe A Cat

    January 16, 2012 7:21 pm 356 comments
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  • Stray cats are a major problem for the United States.  According to the ASPCA, there may be nearly 95 million stray cats in America and of all these cats, over 75% are feral, can carry rabies and are responsible for preying upon natural animals in our ecosystem.  Each year, stray cats destroy local biomes and wreck havoc upon local fauna dynamics, cascading into the lifecycle of flora and ultimately contributing to environmental disasters like the California wildfires, Midwest flooding and arid famine that reaches south through Texas and Mexico.

    Due to these things, it has become the responsibility of everyday people to trap stray cats and turn them into your local animal shelter.  Nurturing and loving an unfamiliar cat properly is tedious work, and sometimes when you bring a stray in off the street for professional evaluation you will have to hold them in your home for a day or two, especially over long weekends.

    For this reason, it is pertinent to know how to cleanse these vermin and protect yourself in the process.  Every person has a duty to remove any stray cats.  If the population trend of cats continue as right now, but they year 2052 they will number 600 million strays, outnumbering the amount of Americans in this country and bringing great danger to all our lives.


    Cat’s body temperatures tend to run hot and they do not like water.  While there are various techniques of how to get a cat into the water, a hands on approach is the best.  Some people have asked about trapping a cat in a large cage and placing the cage in a tub, and then slowly letting the water fill up in the tub and the cat unable to escape.

    While such methods can assuredly get the cat wet, it still does not allow you the hands on scrubbing that must be done to remove all their poisonous dander from their incessant licking, toxins they may have strayed into and blood from all the people and innocent natural species and probably children they have been scratching.

    To hand wash a cat, you first need to access its temperment.  Is it crouched and pierce eyed, hissing and ready to strike like a Burmese jungle panther!  Or is it calm and lazy, like watching Garfield on a Saturday afternoon?  If you have a wild cat, its best to leave it to its vices and make sure its not a bobcat, which we will cover later.  While some states allow you to shoot a wild cat if it tries to attack, it is best practice to not do so and try to get the animal into an animal shelter as soon as possible.

    Make Sure You Are Prepared

    Wear appropriate clothing.1.  Access — Cats are very cold, calculating predators.  Watching but an episode of Big Cat Diary reveals the fiery predator that lies within even the tiniest of house cats.  Most people do not know this, but just like a fish in a tank, a cat has a range of phenotypic plasticity that can allow its body to grow well outside the norm given the proper environmental support.  Within every cat is the ability to kill you, so treat these animals with caution.

    To the right, we see the ‘naked choke hold’ technique.  Now while this technique leaves the arms and hands vulnerable and the sink needed to be clean by your ama de casa or butler, it is the quickest way to make sure the cat is washed in a quick manner, so you can quickly get it to a holding area, dry it off and feed it some yummy food while you wait to get it into your local animal shelter for evaluation.

    2.  Wear Proper Clothes – While cats my be declawed on their front paws, sadly most vet practices will refuse to declaw the backside paws of a cat outside a necessary medical condition.  This leaves you vulnerable to a cat’s swipes, inherent clingyness and its vicious fangs.  To handle a cat, I would highly suggest 1) kevlar gloves 2) vicegrip 3) steel toed boots, in case the cat attacks 4) long sleeved shirt and blue jeans 5) face mask (to protect from the cat’s odor if it urinates) 5) eye googles. 6) butcher’s apron.

    With this outfit, you will be ready to deal with a cat and give it a bath, without posing harm to yourself or your little furry friend.

    3.  Treat cat like you would a wild snake – A cat is just as trustworthy as a king cobra or texas rattlesnake.  They will hiss their tongues and look for their one chance to strike you in the jugular, especially if you are a stranger to the cat.  When trapping a cat and prepping it for an animal shelter, you should definitely recruit several friends to help hold it down while you bathe it and shave off any matted fur.  One person should pin the cats legs down, while the other uses a vice grapple on the cat’s jaw so it can’t open its mouth to bite you.  Make sure to hold the cat firmly, but not so firm that it cannot breathe

    Preparing the Bath

    1.  Fill the tub so high that the cat must swim.  Cats are usually very warm and overheated, so make sure the water is nice and ice cold when you and your friends hold the cat down for a bath.  Do not fill the tub up before bringing in your trapped cat.  Wait until you all have it held in place (tape its paws if necessary) and then turn on the water.  Cats will be soothed by the sound of gentle water filling up around them.

    2.  Fill a bucket or two with extra water for rinsing the cat (optional). This is so you don’t need to run more water during the bath, which might frighten your cat.


    Preparing the Cat

    1. Take the soap and lotions from the basket.  Put the soap or lotion on its skin.
    2. Vigorously work the soap into the cat’s fur.  It is tough to remove all dander and excess fur without a thorough scrub.
    3. Gently comb out the fur.
    4. Trim the cat’s nails if you are skilled enough.  This will prevent scratching and keep the cat from harming itself.


    Soak the cat from the neck down, using a wash cloth.1.   Speak in a loud, firm voice.  At the circus, note how trainers must use loud voices and crack whips to get a cat’s attention.  Cats are among  the more mentally challenged of animals, so it takes great patience and strength to break one to your will.  Remain in control at all time and do not hesitate to chastise and berate a cat for being bad.

    2.  Douse the cat in water.

    3.  Do not miss the eyes, mouth and ears with soap.

    Rinse thoroughly with the water in the tub, then drain the tub and rinse two more times with water from the bucket or warm water from the tap.This little friend is licking his chops in excitement and is only a few steps away from being fresh and clean, getting ready to be packed and delivered to the local animal shelter for evaluation.

    1.  4.  Bleach – Cats are responsible for various illnesses such as ringworm and have been connected to even the Bubonic plague.  Thoroughly wash all areas where you bathe cats, especially if in your tub.


    1. This fuzzy feline is all tuckered out after a long, grueling bath.  Look how content it looks after a good bath from loving people.  It is ready for its 7 day mini-vacation to the local vet.

    Blot.1.  Blot and Rub – A cat will become ‘aroused’ and urinate on you if you dry it too much, so instead blot dry it or use a hair dryer.  Cats are disgusting and do not recognize boundaries exist between species.

    1. Finish drying:

      • Short-haired cats can finish drying themselves in the bathroom as long as they're away from drafts.

        Once you finish drying the vermin, tie them up or put it in a cage.  It will start licking itself and air drying, there is just not much you can do about that aspect of a cat’s unappreciative nature.  Feel free to feed the cat, as cats are very tidy eaters and will at least not get food all over themselves.

      • When your local animal shelters open the door, you will be able to deliver to it a nice packaged, fresh and full kitty.  Remember, before trying any of the advice in this article, verify what methods may work best for you with your local cat shelter.
    Dr. Adam Nelson is a physician with a strong passion for wildlife and a love for ecological conservatism.  Please help us help control the pet population by rounding up any stray you see and treating it with great respect and love.  While some animal shelters will freely ‘fix’ any strays brought in, sadly others will try to give these creatures up for adoption and then will bring a humane ending to the cat’s life.  No matter what type of local shelter you may have, please help do all we can to protect cats and bring them in and off the street.
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    About The Author
    Adam Nelson

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