Bathing a cat: Things that in hindsight I wish I’d known

Embarking on a task as arduous as cat-bathing involves a multitude of risks. This is not the sort of activity where one typically grows up learning proper technique, either. If you’re like me, you have learned only with a great deal of blood, sweat and tears. What usually happens is one begrudgingly acknowledges the cat’s need for a thorough cleaning, and unable to tolerate the offense any longer – be it fleas or odour or melted chocolate bar – one fumbles through the process with a lack of conviction or forethought. This is wrong.

Here are three important things to remember before you begin: wet-cat

  • The claws are the worst part. You should clip them before starting. After the first time this happens your cat will never forget what having its nails clipped means, so consider some full arm length welding gloves
  • Prepare the soap and water before you bring the cat in. There’s gonna be a lot of yowling so try to make the whole thing go quickly by having your tools ready. Answering the cops’ domestic disturbance visit is ten times more complicated with a dripping, screaming kitty tearing about and undermining your claim that ‘nothing’s going on in here’
  • Your average sopping wet cat firmly believes it will die. Steel your nerves against the likelihood that your cat’s eyes will burn with the rage of the betrayed, much like Julius Caesar must have gazed at Brutus. As soon as the soap is washed out of the cat you’ve got to get that sucker dry. The poor bugger might be in shock at this point, so using a hairdryer isn’t really recommended. Grab some fluffy dry towels and scrub away at him until the beast seems dry enough not to moulder or short out the socket behind the couch.

The next part is somewhat unavoidable so the best you can do is try to reduce the number of valuable objects to which your cat has access. He is going to want retribution. Whether this means ensconcing his dripping body directly on your laptop or jazzing up the upholstery, cats have a twisted sense of justice. Once it’s all over and the two of you are even-steven once more, you’ll have a nice smelling feline with fewer parasites and less shedding. Doing it wrong will scar you both, but doing it right the first time is priceless.