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Cat Spa Bath: How 2 People Can Do It
Cat Spa Bath
The term "Spa Bath" is what I use for a bath for your feline which does not require that you clean every square millimeter of his or her body surface. Therefore, if you are bathing your cat to drown fleas or to wash off skunk spray (eeeuooo!), this is not the bath to use. However, if your precious pet has achy, arthritic shoulders or some dust and dirt on just her back, the cat spa bath could be just the thing to make you and your cat happy.
The sort of dirt which I targeted in my most recent Spa Bath for my two cats was construction dust and possible other yucky stuff in which they may have rolled. To start, they love my work-in-progress basement. And, when I, their "mother," do something especially crazy, such as try to put a Halloween costume hat on them (see the 3-cornered pirate's hat hanging from Cincy's neck in the photo below), the basement is even more attractive as a hideout!
Cat in Dusty Play Area
Supplies for Cat Spa Bath
For the two human "estheticians," this clothing is required:
Long sleeved shirt
1 or 2 hand towels or dish towels
For the bathing process, have these supplies:
A bathroom with a door which closes securely and which has a bath tub
BLUE DAWN dishwashing liquid
3 or more large bath towels
Suiting Up and Pre-Bath Preparation
Obviously, the spa bath administrators don the above-suggested work outfits.
The safety pins and hand towels are for the person primarily handling the water part of the operation. Even though you wear clothing to cover your skin, God gave cats the most amazing claws which can prick their way through a few layers of clothing. Do not underestimate the stabbing force of an adrenalin-filled kitty trying to flee by racing up your body - all the while digging into your vertical frame to gain more escape velocity. Thus, pin a few towels over your chest to provide extra cushioning. Hopefully, little, pointy toenails will not be able to reach your skin.
Yes - we are hoping that this will be a SPA experience and enjoyable (or, at least, tolerable) to our cat. Nonetheless, we will prepare for a less than enthusiastic response, just in case.
The dryer-person can have 2 bath towels within reach.
To prepare the bathub, close the drain. Allow VERY warm water to fill to about 2 inches. I use the tried-and-true human baby bath test of sticking my hand or elbow into the water to check its temperature. Then, put a few drops of blue Dawn detergent in the water and swish it around to make small bubbles and release its fragrance. This adds to the spa ambience and you know that blue Dawn soap is safe for your feline. Keep the bottle in the open position on the floor next to the tub.
Procure Your Cat
Swiftness helps. Just scoop up him or her, trot to the bathroom, and get the door completely closed. Whichever esthetician is not the cat-catcher should wait in the bathroom and help with door securing.
First, there are at least two good things happening from the kitty's point of view. There is a pleasant smell in the bathroom from the Blue Dawn (OK, maybe not as pleasant as salmon, but still acceptable) and, second, the water is very shallow.
Cat Spa Bath Steps for a Cooperative Feline
Grasp your cat very firmly around the shoulder blades and lift him into the tub. Place him so that his front feet and hopefully his back feet are on the floor of the tub. Hold him there firmly and observe the reaction.
If he relaxes (which my 3-year-old cat did), use one hand to dunk the washcloth in the water and gently drizzle warm water on your cat's back. Keep the water away from his face. My cat likes to have his shoulders rubbed, so I massaged him there and let water from the washcloth drizzle on his upper back. Since he remained standing and was not trying to climb out, I eventually wet all of his back and tail and rubbed them lightly. This took care of dust on his back. I also had water running down his legs. Then I lifted him out of the tub and handed off to the designated dryer person.
Cat Spa Bath Steps for A Nervous, Wiggly Cat
Again, grasp your cat very firmly around the shoulder blades and lift him into the tub. If his four limbs are paddling faster than windmill blades in a gale, you know you will need to be fast and firm. Hold him with one arm against your chest and lower yourself and him so that two of his feet are on the floor of the tub. Hold him there firmly and observe the reaction.
If he relaxes enough, you can follow the instructions above.
If the cat continues to try escape maneuvers, keep him against your chest with one hand and use the other hand to dunk the washcloth in the water and rub warm water on your cat's back. Keep the water away from his face. This is going to be a faster bath than for a relaxed kitty. Rub the washcloth back and forth on his back. Also, use the washcloth to wet his tail and legs. Then lift him out of the tub and place in the lap of the designated dryer.
Sandwich Drying Method
Now is not the time to be stingy with your towels. The drying person should have a towel spread on his or lap and another at hand. When the half-wet cat is put into his lap, he should place the other towel over its back and swaddle the cat. He can hold it snuggly and share the warmth of his human body while gently rubbing various parts of the cat with the towels. There will be total towel coverage with 2 towels. One of my cats loves to hide, so we even cover his head and face to increase his comfort and feeling of safety.
Drying need not be fast. Gentle massaging and rubbing should take care of most of the dampness before your cat decides to hop off the lap and scamper away, smelling all sweet and clean.
A Happy Cat
A Nice Ending
Although you have not washed every square centimeter of your cat, you have probably gotten a good amount of dirt from its feet and back. Congratulations! Now, time for your own spa bath!
Photos and text copyright 2014 Maren E. Morgan.