Photo Credit: Rebekah Valentine
6. Squeaky clean
Good news: you might not ever need to bathe your cat! Many indoor cats are excellent groomers and as long as they are kept in good health and their environment is relatively clean and well-cared-for, they will likely not require a bath.
But some cats are outdoor cats, some cats might be disabled in some way that makes it more difficult for them to bathe themselves, some cats suck at grooming, and some cats don’t suck at grooming but just smell. In these cases, it is a good idea to establish at least a monthly habit of bathing your cat, if not more often. You will also need to bathe your cat in an emergency if it accidentally gets into something you don’t want it licking off its coat in its entirety.
As mentioned before, start cats with bathing young to build good habits. Use warm (not hot) water and try to bathe them in the sink if possible. While some cats enjoy running water, yours may dislike the faucet running, so start them off by having the sink or tub already full when you gently place them in. Use a shampoo specifically for cats and gently massage it into their fur, taking care to avoid the eyes, inner ears, and mouth. Rinse your cat by pouring water over them from a cup or using a very gently spray nozzle.
When you’re done, you can wrap kitty in a towel to get the worst of the drippies out and let them air dry or, if they are still calm and accepting of the bath, use a blow dryer. Unlike brushing, you should blow dry against the coat rather than with it. Use a mild setting on the blow dryer–do not get it too hot!
Photo Credit: Rebekah Valentine
7. Clipping cares away
Different cats will require different degrees of nail care. Outdoor cats may not require any, as their claws will naturally shorten as they explore. Indoor cats may scratch enough on posts or carpets if you provide good materials for them, but are more likely to require good nail care on occasion. As an example, my cats’ front feet stay short enough on their own, but their back claws need occasional trims. Keep an eye on your cat’s nails and trim them regularly if they get too long.
To get a cat used to nail clipping, begin by sitting with them for several minutes without clipping their nails (but with the clippers nearby and visible) and just spend time massaging and handling their feet, to get them used to it. Gently press the toe pads, extending your cat’s retractable claws. Try placing treats atop the clippers for your cat to get it used to the smell of them and associate them with good things. Gradually work your way to actually clipping the nails, pressing the toe pads to extend the nails properly. Look for the solid color inside the nail–that’s the quick, and you don’t want to clip that. Clip a little ways above the quick, instead.
Take it slow. Clip one nail, then offer a treat. Repeat. If the cat grows agitated, end the session and try again later. Even getting one paw done is a good enough start. Try again with the next paw tomorrow and keep offering treats for successful clips until your cat relaxes and allows you to clip nails without a fuss.