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How to bath your cat (and live to tell the tale)

Approx. 4 minutes read

We know what you’re thinking: who needs to bath their cat, right? They’re born with a built-in self-cleaning function. They simply twist into contorted positions and lick themselves. A few hours later, voila! Clean cat.

But what about long-haired cats with a skin condition? Or if your cat gets into something really nasty and their tongue cleaning just won’t do? Sometimes cats do need a bath, which is where Pet Hero comes in.

You will need

  • nail clippers
  • cat shampoo
  • towels to support the cat
  • towels to dry the cat
  • bandages for your arms (and maybe face)
  • antiseptic cream
  • emergency room phone number


  1. Plan for this a day in advance by trimming your cat’s claws. “Why?” you ask. Well, have you met a cat who enjoys getting wet?
  2. On the day of the bath, play with your cat to use up some of her energy – that same energy she’ll want to use to vigorously escape when she’s within scratching distance of the water. When your cat is nice and tired, run the water and ensure it is body temperature (not too hot, not too cold). Place a rubber mat or some towels at the bottom of the bath/basin to give your cat some traction.
  3. Brush any dirt and debris from your cat. You can do this while the water is running. Be sure to not take your eyes off your cat.
  4. Retrieve your cat from the hiding place she goes to when she hears the bathwater running. Carry her to the bathroom.
  5. Gently unhook her claws from the flesh of your arms (make a mental note to disinfect later) and place her on the bath mat while you pull on some welding gloves to avoid further injury.  
  6. Reconsider your role as a cat owner: maybe a boerboel will be less painful than this. When you see your cat is no longer on the bath mat, use the opportunity to make sure your will (or, at the very least, your personal insurance) is up to date before you go looking for your cat. Place the cat shampoo and drying towels within arm’s reach of your bath space. Do not risk stepping away. Not even for a second.
  7. Retrieve your cat from her second-favourite hiding place. Now that you are armed with welding gloves, be sure to hold your cat away from your body should she try to swipe at your face. Carry her gently back to the bathroom.
  8. Ignore the intense kitty growling. She will forgive you for this (eventually). She’s not in any pain… but you might be in a short while. The price of feline love and good hygiene, eh?
  9. If possible, hold your cat gently as you submerge her into the water. Do it slowly so she has time to realise there is no threat or danger in this situation. Unfortunately she may also have time to realise that welding gloves that are full of water become cumbersome and you are now at a disadvantage.
  10. Remove the wet, angry cat from the top of your head. Gently. If any of the new scratches are bleeding, be sure to wipe the blood away so it doesn’t run into your eyes. Visual impairments while bathing a cat are unnecessary and dangerous.
  11. Answer the doorbell. That’s probably your neighbour who’s come to investigate the screaming. Rope him in to help you secure your cat. Offer him the welding gloves. No, actually, insist.
  12. With your cat securely in the water and now growling blue murder at your neighbour, squeeze a little cat shampoo into your hands and begin to lather your cat’s fur. Speak soothingly and reassuringly to her. Cat bites will heal, but purry love is forever.
  13. Using a small jug (don’t even risk the handheld sprayer if you don’t water everywhere), begin to rinse the shampoo from your cat’s fur. Keep reassuring her in a calm voice. Ignore the growling.
  14. Before you are ready to remove your cat from the bath, say a small prayer. Asking for mercy is a good suggestion.
  15. Get a secure grip on your cat and then ask your neighbour to close the bathroom door.
  16. Don’t forget that a wet cat is a slippery cat. Make another mental note to clean your wounds.
  17. Approach your cat on the other side of the bathroom with a very large, very fluffy towel. This is more for your protection than for her comfort. If she won’t let you near her, simply spread the towel and drop it over her. Pull on the welding gloves again, and attempt to dry her from ‘the outside’ of the towel. Do not even think of using a hairdryer to dry your cat. She will kill you.
  18. Disinfect your wounds and apply antiseptic lotion. Help your neighbour do the same. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, phone the hospital. Before you leave, put out some kitty treats. It’s the first step on the long road towards reconciliation with your cat.

If you survived unscathed, there is a long career for you in cat grooming. Consider it.

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