2017-03-30 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Are you feeling brave? Did you eat your Wheaties? Then, you should be able to bathe your cat, as long as you follow certain steps.

Even though cats are self-cleaning, they do require baths from time to time, especially when flea-infested, covered with an oily or toxic substance that would be harmful if licked off or when you’re trying to reduce the dander level in your house. You can wash your cat at home without maiming Fluffy or yourself as long as you orchestrate the bath like a well-rehearsed play. Here is some advice straight from the script of “Cat Wash” starring Fluffy:

* Gather the props. It’s best to have everything– rubber gloves, shampoo, rinse cup, a wash cloth for the cat’s face and several soft towels– at your fingertips before you begin. Cats calm down more quickly if they have a window screen placed at a 45 degree angle to grab onto in the tub or sink. Some cat groomers prefer a mat under their paws. A hand spray faucet is a huge help. Mixing the shampoo in a bottle with warm water before starting makes it easier to spread the soap evenly. The grooming gathering should be done nonchalantly so not to tip off the bathee.


It can be a challenge to give a cat a bath. It can be a challenge to give a cat a bath. Make sure the product you are about to use is safe for cats; be extra cautious with kittens. Some pet shampoos are just for dogs. Read the bottle instructions beforehand. For a flea or medicated bath, the cat may have to stay lathered 5-10 minutes. It is easier to put the sudsy cat in a carrier while you time it, so have an open carrier accessible before you start.

* Set the stage. Put on an outfit you don’t care about. Remember any sweater you wear could be pulled and destroyed. Grooming smocks offer another layer of protection. Long sleeves are a must in case you are scratched or bitten. Clear all drenchables and breakables from the area before you begin. Adjust the water temperature to lukewarm, open the bottle and put the screen in place. Mix your shampoo and water combo. Many cats are freaked out by a hand sprayer so you might want to use the faucet and rinse cups instead. Fold another towel and place at the edge of the sink because some cats like the feel of the towel when they step out of the sink.

* Make-up. You will finish with fewer scars if you do some preparatory work such as clipping nails or de-matting a longhaired cat. Baths make mats worse. If you have a rescue kitten with ear mites, clean the ears before the bath. When possible, use a tearless cat shampoo. Since most flea products are eye irritants, it helps to apply a little eye ointment before starting. Petroleum-based tubes are available at the vet.

* Summon the star. Resort to sleight of hand or there will be no cat in sight when you are ready to direct Act 1. Block all exits. Cats possess a mathematical skill to be able to position themselves under the widest bed, equidistant from either side, beyond the widest arm span of any human. Pretend to be doing something else, and then scoff up the feline by the scruff of the neck and gently deposit him in the sink.

* Lights, action, soaking. Make sure the water is lukewarm. Hold the cat with one hand by the scruff. (For novice bathers or tough cats, two pairs of hands are best.) Talk or sing to the cat. Tell her how good she is even if she isn’t. I prefer show tunes. Just add the cat’s name to the lyrics. Your duet may dumbfound the wet wailer. Soap the cat from the head back. Rinse thoroughly.

* Dry the star. Wring loose fur carefully. Towel dry as much you can. Short-haired cats dry quickly on a warm day. Longhaired cats, kittens or cold weather baths may require a dryer. You can put a cat in a carrier and use your hair dryer on warm. Cooperative cats allow you to hold them and blow dry. Never leave a pet unattended under a dryer. When you are done drying, give your cat a treat. Then get one for yourself.

* The grand finale. Today’s flea products make it easier to help a flea-ridden rescue. Capstar pills work quickly and are good when moving a cat (dog) from one setting to another so not to bring the itchy hitchhikers. Topicals like Frontline and Advantage have feline formulas but shouldn’t be applied until several days after a bath because skin oils have been depleted.

In cases of severe flea infestations, comb the cat again after he is dry with a fine tooth cat comb. Some of the tiny varmints survive the ordeal. Young kittens are easier to hold securely so I would take the baby outdoors (in warm weather) for the follow up flea combing. Keep a cup of soapy water nearby to drown the fleas stuck in the comb.

If you don’t think you can handle bathing your cat, go to a professional groomer. Just be forewarned that not all groomers work with cats, and the price is comparable to that of a short-haired dog. Use a groomer that has been recommended by a “cat” person.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon. “Miss Peach” 7-93 is not feeling peachy. Since her owner died a year ago, she’s been living with a relative. She doesn’t get along with the relative’s two cats so she was turned into the shelter. Miss Peach vocalizes, trying to tell you her tale of woe. “Carli” 17-141 is a senior Poodle or Maltese mix found in Wyandanch. She may be blind in one eye.

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