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I write this post coming from my many experiences giving cats a bath. As always, if you have any concerns, just consult with your vet! :3
For most people, the words “cat” and “bath” in the same sentence means the sentence has to also include “insane.” While most cats will never need a bath (usually a good, regular brushing is enough to keep a cat’s coat healthy), if your cats are indoor-outdoor and have a favorite hobby of rolling in the dirt, as mine do, a once or twice a year bath can help keep kitty clean and healthy! I just gave Clemmie a bath yesterday, as her fur was starting to feel a little bit grimy, and now she’s soft and beautiful as always! I thought I’d share some of my tips for making bathtime a little bit easier.
Some cats are just never going to be bathable. Their personalities make just make them too scared. If those kitties ever get really dirty, just bring them to an experienced, safe groomer to help them get clean.
First things first, you’re probably going to end up with one or two scratches, especially if it’s kitty’s first time in the tub. You can wear long sleeves to help avoid this, and hopefully these other tips will help keep kitty relaxed, but even with my cats being exceptionally good bathers, I still get one or two scratches in the process.
If it’s your first time, it might be helpful to have a buddy with you to help gently hold kitty while you gently scrub, and to hold the towel to wrap kitty up after when you pull her out of tub! I no longer need assistance, as I’m fairly experienced, but it can be very helpful!
It also might be helpful a few days in advance to just bring kitty into the bathroom and let him explore. Put him in the tub, let him walk around and sniff things. Being familiar with the surroundings could make things a lot easier.
You will need:
- Three big, warm towels
- Cat-safe shampoo and/or conditioner
- A plastic cup
- Possibly an assistant
ALWAYS be sure to use a cat-safe shampoo! Cats have natural oils on their skin, just like we do, and human soap or shampoo can strip those oils and damage kitty’s skin. It’s VERY important to buy a shampoo/conditioner (heehee, I have a kitty conditioner) that is EXPLICITLY made for cats. You can get them at any pet store.
Some people bathe kitty in the sink, but I prefer to use the bathtub. I find that you get more leverage that way, and things go a lot faster and are slightly less messy. So, here’s my process!
1. Get some warm, big towels ready. I usually pop a couple BIG towels in the dryer for about ten minutes pre-bathtime. Kitty is going to be really cold afterward, and the first thing you’ll want to do is wrap him in a giant towel to help get the initial wetness off.
2. Have kitty follow you/bring her to the bathroom and close the door. Talk soothingly to your cat, tell them what a great kitty they are, maybe have some treats ready. Keep talking to your cat this way through the whole thing. It reallys helps keep them calmer.
3. Run the bathwater–WARM, not HOT–to where it would just cover kitty’s feet. You DO NOT need a lot of water in the tub. The highest the water should go is to where your kitty’s legs bend–never higher. You should never fully submerge your cat! This is only going to be terrifying for most cats. Some cats (Pickles the Drummer, for instance) may enjoy a little more water (it’s true!), but most cats really, really won’t.
4. Add a little kitty shampoo while the water is running for a bubble bath. You just need a little bit of shampoo, and I usually add some to the bathwater to make a tiny bubble bath. This helps things go faster and smoother.
5. Turn off the water. Put kitty in feet-first. Don’t go too slowly, don’t go too quickly. Keep talking calmly and telling her what a good kitty she is. Let her stand in the water a moment before you start bathing to see that it’s not that big of a deal. This is in part why it’s important to use just a little water–Kitty will be a LOT more cooperative if she doesn’t feel like she’s going for a swim. I don’t do this, but some have recommended putting a towel in the bottom of the bathtub, so kitty can grip something with his claws.
6. Gently sweep the water up to kitty, from legs to back. Do not get kitty’s head wet. Just start bringing the soapy water up to your kitty and softly scrubbing the fur, starting at the legs and moving up to the body. This is where an assistant might come in especially handy the first time, to keep kitty in place while you scrub. If you need a tiny, tiny bit more soap, just pour a little bit on the middle of the back, and work your way down after you’ve wet the fur.
**There will be a LOT of crying, most of the time. Just keep talking soothingly! You’re NOT hurting your baby, they are just a little freaked out because they’ve never had the experience before (like some kids at their first haircut). You won’t traumatize them if you’ve taken every precaution to make it as much of a relaxing experience as possible!**
7. Start draining the water and run fresh, warm (not hot!!) water at a trickle. Just a trickle! Anything more is going to freak kitty out. Fill up your plastic cup, and then carefully start to rinse kitty down, starting at the back. Be sure to rinse thoroughly! If you have one of those snake showerheads, those are perfect for this–but remember, just a trickle of water!
8. After rinsing, wrap kitty in a big, warm, soft towel. I wrap my kitties all the way up and hold them to try and let the towel soak as much water as possible.
9. Use the second towel to carefully rub kitty’s wet fur all over. This is going to be a bit of a challenge, but you want to help dry kitty as much as possible.
10. Leave the third warm towel out, folded, as a sort of bed, and leave kitty in the bathroom for a bit. Kitty is wet, cold, and just wants to lick herself dry for awhile. Especially since I have other cats, I’ll just let my freshly bathed kitty alone in the bathroom with the door shut for 15-20 minutes to let them lick themselves dry and get their fur sorted out. You may feel bad or guilty doing this, but if you let your cat out, they are just going to be wet and cold somewhere in your home, and the other cats (if you have more) are just going to bother them. I will sometimes run a hot shower for a few minutes to get the room warm and steamy, then just leave them in there with the door shut a while to relax. Bring some treats in after a few minutes, if you like.
And that’s it! This is the process I use every time, and all three of my cats are cooperative and mostly calm during bathtime. Of course, they cry a little bit, but they forget about the whole ordeal as soon as they are dry, soft, and happy. I have found that bathing can do wonders for a messy outdoor kitty. Hope this helps!
It’s kind of funny. I’d been meaning to do a post about artist Louis Wain for some time, since I’d first discovered his drawings of big-eyed anthropomorphic cats. What’s funny is that two of my very first Cat Tat Tuesdays featured tattoos of Wain’s art, and I had no idea until recently when I happened upon them while perusing his artwork.
Here is the original illustration from which the Victorian umbrella cat tattoo that I love so much was taken:
There is something about this that I can’t help but love. I’ve been planning on getting some cats tattooed on me, and this is definitely one of the pieces that’s a contender. I’d love to take this and change it up a bit, to make the cats resemble my own.
But enough about me, let’s learn a little bit about Louis Wain.
Victorian artist Louis Wain began drawing cats in an effort to amuse his wife Emily, who was dying from cancer. His initial drawings were of their cat, Peter, who was a comfort to Emily during her illness. Wain eventually began to draw other cats who walked upright, wore clothing, and partook in human activities such as smoking, playing sports, and having tea parties.
Wain’s cats grew to be extremely popular in Victorian England, where anthropomorphic animals were all the rage. He was, perhaps, one of the very first cat guys ever. Almost all of his drawings were of cats, and he was involved in many cat organizations, including the National Cat Club where he even served as President and Chairman. In fact, according to several sources, Wain played a very large role in popularizing cats as pets, when before they were primarily kept as rodent control.
As Wain’s popularity later began to decline, so did his mental health and he was committed to a mental hospital. Many psychologists claim that his schizophrenia can be seen in his works, some of which are very colorful with psychedelic patterns, and apparently they are used as examples in many textbooks to show the progression of schizophrenia:
However, others argue that his schizophrenia had no effect on his works, as the paintings above were undated and were doubtfully created in the chronological order presented. Many of his later works actually use the same style seen in his earlier works, which portrayed cats that were much more realistic.
Regardless of whether or not any of this is true, Wain’s work definitely holds a special place not only in the art world, but in the history of cats and their relationships with humans as well. In the words of H.G. Wells, “[Wain] has made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world.”
To wrap up this post, here is some more of Wain’s work:
Featuring the kitties of flickr.com! Click each image to view the photographer’s page!
Do you let your kitties play outside? Outdoor time can be fun for cats, good exercise, and also decreases litterbox use/clean-up, as most cats who play outside tend to go outside, too!
There are, however, some things to take into consideration before you let your kitty play outside. One of the first is other cats and animals. Do you live in an area where people let their dogs out without leashes? Are there feral cats roaming around? While I personally don’t believe in declawing cats, if your cats are declawed, they have no defense against other animals, and unless you live in a place where other animals aren’t a threat, it might not be a good idea to let them out.
Another thing to take into consideration is fleas and ticks. A package of good flea/tick protection typically runs about $35 for three monthly applications. Flea prevention meds are finally available at some places like Wal-Mart, which makes them a bit cheaper. Though flea prevention meds are the best protection, a more affordable option is a flea collar. Speaking from experience, fleas are extremely difficult to get rid of once your kitties have them, and ticks are disease-spreaders, so this is definitely an important thing to think about when letting your kitties out to play.
A precaution I highly recommend, even for indoor-only kitties, is a collar with at least a name and info on it. Breakaway collars are about $3-$7, and laser-tags are about $4. Since our cats are out so often and tend to easily lose their collars, we just use a sharpie to write the cat’s name, our last name, and home phone number on the outside. If one of our cats gets spooked or lost (or if you have an indoor-only kitty who escapes), you at least have a first line of defense for if someone picks them up. While many shelters offer microchipping when you adopt, you can also get your cat microchipped for about $40. If a lost cat is brought to a vet or shelter, the cat can be scanned for your info!
One more thing to watch out for is potentially poisonous plants or chemicals (an unfortunately common, preventable source of pet poisoning is antifreeze) outside where your kitty may get into them. It’s important to make sure nothing is left out that your cat could get into.
If your kitty has never been let outside before, whether an adult cat or a kitten, it’s a good idea to only let your cat outside when you can be with him or her. Pickles and Clementine had never been allowed outside before, so when I first started letting them out, I’d stay with them for about 30 minutes to an hour, making sure they didn’t go near the street, and allowing them to explore around the house and take in different smells all under my watchful eye. I did this daily for about five days before letting them out on their own.
What sort of area do you live in? If your neighborhood is in a high-traffic area, and your home is closer to the road, it might not be a good idea to let your kitty out alone. When I lived in an apartment, I couldn’t safely let Pickles and Clem out by themselves, so when I’d sit on my little back porch, I’d bring them both out on leashes with me. They loved to just relax out there in the fresh air with me!
It’s also very important to make sure your kitty is up-to-date on all his or her vaccinations before letting them romp around outside. If they do encounter another animal and get bitten or scratched, you’ll know they are protected from most passable diseases.
Our cats also have a curfew–they aren’t allowed out past dark. We also try to avoid letting them out before everyone leaves for the day, so they aren’t stuck outside with the elements. Sometimes, it’s hard to get them back in if they sneak out in the mornings, and luckily we have a screened-in back porch, so I’ll leave food and plenty of water out for them if I know the household is going to be empty for a few hours.
Outdoor time can be a very enjoyable, safe experience for your kitties when introduced properly and when all precautions are in place! Just look all those lovelies enjoying the sun! :3
The longer you’ve owned your cat, or the more time you’ve spent with him or her, you definitely start to notice certain stances, tail movements, and even facial expressions that are certain indicators of your cat’s mood. Cats have to use non-verbal communication as signals, and knowing these signs are an important step to understanding your kitty. I’ve done some reading up on the web to find out what some of the more common kitty mood indicators are (click each image to view its source–some pages have additional info about cat behaviors and expressions)!
We’ve all seen this look, before! A kitty with his tail up means he’s feeling friendly toward you. This signal is often also a greeting or a show of confidence or pride.
A kitty with his tail curled at the tip can indicated caution or pause to assess another person, cat, or situation.
Ever seen your kitty spooked, angry, or fearful? Then you’ve likely seen a huge, puffy tail! Cats bristle their fur to make them look bigger when they feel threatened. A few of my cats over the years have scared dogs out of the yard simply by puffing up.
When your kitty’s tail is swishing back and forth rapidly, this is almost always a sign that she’s pretty miffed and wants to be left alone. I was particularly interested in this tail movement, as Pickles does it constantly, even when she doesn’t seem to be upset. Interestingly enough, I read that this doesn’t necessarily always mean “anger,” but can represent a state of internal conflict. This would make sense, as she seems to do it more when she looks about to decide on what she’s about to do. My vet also told me that this can indicate a very active mind in a cat.
Another common cat behavior is kneading. I always assumed this was just a way of kitty getting more comfortable, but it’s a sure sign of happiness or restfulness. I didn’t know this, but kitties also have some scent glands on their paws, and this can be used as yet another way for marking territory.
One of my personal favorites is the head/body rub! I’ve called these “kitty hugs,” as cats obviously don’t usually put their arms around you. Instead, they rub their heads and bodies along you as a warm greeting or sign of affection. Rubbing the head on a person or object is also yet another way of marking scent to claim something… My cats rub on everything, no wonder they think they own the place–they technically do!
What odd behaviors do your cats have that can’t seem to be explained by science?
You may have noticed that we added two items to the navigation menu: “More MCL” and “Links.” “More MCL” takes you to our Tumblr, which is chock-full of beautiful photography, silly cat pictures, lolcats, artwork, animated GIFs, and more. If you have a Tumblr, you should follow us! “Links,” of course, takes you to a page full of links, and there are a lot of them! We’ve compiled this list so that if you’re ever bored and feel the need to look at cats online (as is bound to happen), you’ve got a great place to start. And if you think there’s a site out there that we need to add, just let us know!
Today’s Big Cat isn’t a big cat at all. In fact, it’s really quite small, weighing only about 2.5 to 4.5 pounds! (That’s less than half the size of Kudzu!)
The African black-footed cat, also known as the anthill tiger, is one of the smallest wild cats in the world. Because they are nocturnal and solitary, they are rarely seen in nature, and there aren’t even many in captivity. According to ZooBorns, there are only nineteen in zoo collections in the United States, and only 40 around the world.
On February 13, two male kittens were born to a surrogate mother, who underwent in-vitro fertilization with a frozen embryo.
Some adorable newborn kittens at Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species have no idea just how special they are. Two African Black-Footed kittens, members of an endangered species rarely seen in captivity, are the first of their kind to be born from a frozen embryo via in-vitro fertilization. This ground-breaking birth is the latest advance in assisted reproduction for endangered species from Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans.
How cute! Here are a few more shots of these beautiful little cats.