Caturday felid: Bafftime!

January 22, 2011 • 4:58 am

Dave Webster has figured out the trick to washing your kitteh without getting yourself shredded to hamburger and your bathroom inundated with water. It starts with getting the beast stoned. . .

I used to do this by putting on my bathing suit and getting into the tub with my cat. He could stand on my body while I was soaping him, reducing the cat’s helpless feeling (but giving me extensive lacerations on my thighs!).

The sad thing about bathing a dirty cat, or taking it to the vet, is that it doesn’t ever realize that you’re trying to help it. . .


45 thoughts on “Caturday felid: Bafftime!

    1. I concur. I have only had to bathe a cat once because of a flea infestation (a long time ago). There is no need to bathe a cat. They aren’t dogs, for crying out loud.

      1. Not true. When I got my last cat, Teddy, he was a street cat who wandered in through the cat door. His coat was covered with motor oil; maybe he had gone underneath some car. I had to bathe him lest he make himself sick by licking the oil off his coat.

        There are time when a cat simply must be bathed.

  1. I have bathed my cat exactly twice in the 7 years that I’ve had him. I was scarred the first time, my wife was scarred the second. Never again. He can go dirty for all I care.

    1. We have a cat with a minor anal gland issue who occasionally needs her butt cleaned. Noooooo! is exactly the sound she makes.

  2. A former roommate used to bathe his Maine coon cat simply by showering with it. I always respected his courage, if not his sense of self-preservation or desire to reproduce.

  3. Baihu was (of course) here with me here at the kitchen table when I played that…and, boy, did he freak out at the sound of that cat!

    I’ve never tried to immerse him in water, and I’m hoping I’ll never have to. However, he does like to roll in the dust when we go out into the back yard. When he does, I just rub him down with a hot wrung-out hand towel, like what you’d get at a fancy restaurant to clean up after eating the ribs. I’m sure it’s not his favorite thing in the world, but he doesn’t complain out loud.

    The towel gets the worst of the dirt out of his coat. And, of course, it leaves him damp…which causes him to give himself a full bath of his own.

    I’m sure it wouldn’t do any good for fleas, but it’s at least 90% as effective at getting rid of dirt as a full bath, and nowhere near as stressful for either of us. Plus, the whole thing, from grabbing the towel to putting it in the laundry pile, takes under a minute.



    1. “…like what you’d get at a fancy restaurant to clean up after eating the ribs.”

      Yes. I know that whenever I go to Noma in Copenhagen, I always have the ribs.

  4. Heh, I tried that once as a kid with our cats. The older kitteh wasn’t as recalcitrant as our younger one but she still gave me a few scratches on my arm.
    Well, in the end, both were cleaner and I looked as if I had wrestled with a blackberry bush 😉

    1. I always look like I’ve been wrestling with blackberry bushes. One of Baihu’s favorite games is patty-cake, and he spends a lot of time riding around on (and clinging to) my shoulders.


      1. Yeah, one of our (well, actually grandparent’s) cats also liked doing that. Heck, I really miss those buggers.

        I don’t have any cats now (can’t really afford one as a grad student) but maybe in a few years I’ll be able to get a Savannah cat. I heard they have also a higher affinity to water than the more common house cat breeds.

      2. I had an Abby that loved to ride on my shoulders. I did a lot of nail trimming when I had cats. It really helps, but use cat nail clippers (more like scissors). I’d put a cat (in a human sitting position) on my lap and trim. With a little foot massage (watch those ticklish spots) and lots of patience and training, this became no big deal.

        Hint: do this just before vacuuming, then you don’t have to worry about the clippings.

  5. The secret is to bath the cat from an early age. When our cats went to cat shows, they were bathed (when we could be bothered) and we’d trained them to accept this by starting to bath them when they were kittens.

    Of course, whether any of them would accept it now is quite another matter…

    1. I’ll believe that may work, at least for some cats for some times. Youtube linked to videos of kittehns who actually enjoyed bafftime (without soap) and played catch with waves and reflections!

      My favorite part in the original video was when the cat went “OHNHOOOOOESSS!” and the owner went something like “that is the sound of the cat loving to hate water.”

      1. Huh! I listened again, and that wasn’t even close. Well, it was a fun confabulation while it lasted.

  6. Long ago I worked at an animal hospital and did many many flea baths on cats, dogs and ferrets. That sound is so typical (I’ll be sure call it the sound of pleasure from now on!). I got really good at cat baths and rarely got clawed or bitten. Cats do look really pitiful during and after baths. Many hated the dryers too and that sound continued after the bath.

    I had one cat of my own, Sagan, a sweet, loving little girl that became a Hyde to her normal Jekyll when I bathed her. She bit and clawed more than any other cat I’d bathed. After the bath, she became more loving than ever before–apologizing perhaps? (I know it’s athropomorphic but perhaps she was just making sure I’d keep the chow line open for her in the future.) I generally relied on a flea comb to remove fleas from then on. She loved that so much she’d slobber when being combed or brushed.

    I do miss her.

  7. I have bathed a cat exactly once.

    My kids picked up this half-dead, nearly toothless, declawed cat on a cold winter’s day. My kids were waiting on a bench for their pick-up from swim practice and this cat came up to them and meowed pitifully. My middle daughter to her credit gave part of her chocolate chip cookie to the cat who wolfed it down. The cat came home with them.

    Smelly, oily, grey, dirty, shaggy. I got this cat and decided it needed a bath. I got in the tub with the cat and gave it two rounds of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo in warm water. The cat protested a little, but it was weak and declawed.

    Smokey lived with us for nearly 3 years before a tumor claimed her life. We indulged her with warm fires, Christmas presents, vast quantities of tuna, strings to chase and brushings which she loved. She gave us the loudest purrs you could hear from another room and long gazes into our eyes which transmitted pure love.

    Considering the emotional commitment, I’m not sure I’ll bathe another cat!

  8. I find a spot on flea treatment is a way easier option when it comes to the potential mauling power of cats C:

    But a good tip for when a bath is required: Have the water in the tub before you bring the kitty in, the sound of the water running sets them off. I do this with my male ratties as well, they seem to like to marinate in their own pee so they need the baths, dirty buggers.

    I totally loved the catnip idea <3.

  9. One of my cats does not clean herself. Last year I resorted to a pair of round-edged scissors to get rid of the matted fur, then used a spare beard trimmer.

    She’d go ‘effing bonkers if I tried to bathe her though.

    She’s awfully matted again and have delicately trimmed some of the matted fur off; does anyone have any tips for cats that can’t be arsed cleaning themselves?


      1. Believe me, I do.

        I’ve been a cat-owned human for nearly 20 years.

        Her brother loves being groomed; Missy doesn’t – it’s a human versus cat game with negligible value.

        Mind you, Missy is originally from Morningside. (“All fur coat and nae knickers” as the quote goes.)

        Explains a lot.

        Since posting my message something weird has happened – heard a baby crying-type sound in my stairwell. It’s a cat.

        No-one in my stairwell apart from myself and my ex, so it’s a bit of a mystery.

        He/she is gorgeous. Puddy and Missy are rather cautious. I’ve put the 9-month (by the looks of him/her) into the lounge and set up a litter tray, grub and water.

        I’m off to make her/him feel safe.

          1. Well the lost wee soul is under the sofa. I’m going to see if I can coax her/him out.

            Puddy is stalking and trying to enter the lounge; Missy (the matted one) is being shy.

            If I can grab a pic, I shall do so, if the wee cat is comfortable.

            I must say, it’s awfully beautiful.

            Well fed/looked after. Tiger stripes.

            God knows how it ended up in our communal stairwell!

            Anyone got ideas how to make him/her/it feel comfy? strange environment, scent of two cats…

            Gonna take my MacBook air through and see if he/she/it pops out.


      2. That sounds harsh. Is it possible you haven’t experienced all combinations of cat body sizes/shapes, fur types, and grooming predilections?

        Out of the many cats we’ve had over 4 decades or so, one had a terrible problem with matting. Brushing was not a panacea.

        As to taking him to a groomer…this was also the cat–of course–who went ballistic on car trips…

        1. Sorry if it sounds harsh, but I’ve seen way too many matted animals in a terrible state.
          A cat can be trained to tolerate brushing, just like nail trimming and even bathing (though the latter isn’t as easy!).

  10. My partner and I have a way of managing this.

    We bring Kit into the bathroom, and close the door. I’ll be in my swimsuit.

    Our bath and shower are a single unit – in place of a curtain we have glass. I sit down in the (dry) bathtub with Kit in my lap (it’s around this time that she realizes what’s about to happen).

    I then turn on the shower head.

    I quickly rinse Kit under the shower, then move her through so that the water isn’t spraying her anymore. She is now 100% committed to escape, but of course she’s in a box: She can’t get out.

    And the entrance to that box is on the other side of the water coming from the shower jet.

    So her aversion to being under the shower head wins out over her need to escape the box. She just flails at the glass and silently begs my partner to let her out. My partner just collapses into a fit of giggles.

    While Kit flails about I soap her down. Usually during this process she realizes there’s no escape, and becomes resigned.

    After soaping, I get a good grip on her and pull her back to be rinsed under the shower – the trick is to not get it in her face.

    By the time she’s rinsed Kit is ready to bolt, so I open the door a bit. She leaps out into – the waiting towel my partner is holding. I pick myself up and dry off while my partner rubs kit down.

    Kietteh iz clen.

    I’ll occasionally cop a scratch or two but its rare enough to be exceptional.

  11. I only had cause to wash my kitteh once – think he fell in a ditch or something. I held him under the tap in the utility sink, and he was surprisingly good about it.

    That said, this is the cat that used to jump back IN the cat carrier when at the vet. Somehow he made the connection between being back in the box and going home.

    1. Don’t mean to burst your bubble, but pretty much all my cats have learned the latter trick. Indeed, the problem was more likely to be extracting them from their carriers in the first place. (Picture a cat doing the equivalent of a rock climber’s “chimney-ing” while you’re holding the carrier open-door-side down, shaking it… 🙂 )

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