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13 January 2007

Should I regularly bathe my cats? [More:]Since my bespoke-crafted answer didn't stick over their due to flagging, I'm foisting it upon you here.
You obviously enjoy bleeding and dying a great deal.

Bonus round for burning your house/apartment building/city down when one or more cats display ability to walk across the ceiling, walls, deeply folded time-and-space and knock over a) all the candles b) a smoking hot turkey deep-fryer filled with coconut oil c) giant explody CRT tv d) grandma carrying a hundred lit sparklers.

Yeah, sometimes you need to bath a cat for their own good and yours, or maybe sometiems even merely your own amusement. Sometimes one must do it rather more often than they'd like for their own good, say, once or twice every bicentennial.

Regularly? I already knew you were stark sprung raving noodled, but I had no idea how gnarled and warped that jerky-snack of a noggin perched atop your brainstem was.

Do they smell? Flake or shed excessively? Have they changed color or shape? Texture? No scales? Have they been recently dipped in pudding? Chocolate malt?

Have they been used in an assualt or armed robbery? A strongarming? A display of overt theat and coercion?

Did you attempt to strap butter to their backs in an ill-thought attempt to generate perpetual motion in your kitchen? Did you ever think about how you'd harness the energy if it indeed had worked? Right, can't go slapping some pulleys and cogs on a levitating, rapidly spinning and very displease cat now, could you?

You didn't... paint them? Was it oil or latex?

Did you dye them purple with vegetable dye? Bathing wouldn't help, then. Right, you'd need a bath.

You're not... deathly bored, are you? Have you tried rapelling off the roof? Flying a kite? Flying on a kite? Did you put a pickle in your navel? Russian Roulette lost it's thrill? Have you tried breaking any limbs? Y'know, just out of curiosity? No?

Right, then. Don't bathe the cat.

Otherwise, ok, maybe it's time to bath the cat. But you'd better be sure, man. Don't make me show you my scars.
posted by loquacious 13 January | 20:28
≡ Click to see image ≡
posted by chrismear 13 January | 20:33
Hang on a flaming second. I must have got that image from that thread. Somehow. What the hell is going on? I thought I got it from some random cat site.

I am spending too much time on these Meta sites.
posted by chrismear 13 January | 20:35
loquacious, my profound and everlasting thanks for preserving that answer for all webternity. If that doesn't put you up in the pantheon of great wits of our time, there is no hope for any of us. With your permission, I will be sharing that with some of my cat-loving friends (credit given, of course).
posted by elizard 13 January | 20:49
I heart loquacious.
posted by Specklet 13 January | 20:51
I've never bathed a cat. And I've owend two
posted by eekacat 13 January | 20:53
I've helped bathe my parent's cats before. It wasn't a "regular" thing, but they were outdoor cats, and they had very long hair. By the end of the summer, they would smell so bad, there was no choice but to wash them. However, even with three victims (two to hold the cat, one to hold the water, soap, etc), the cat would manage to spring forth from our grip at least once and deal some serious claw damage. If I get a cat, I'll probably just hose it off once a year.
posted by muddgirl 13 January | 20:58
So glad you foisted. Insanely funny. I read it to my husband and we were both cackling like a couple of crazy people.
posted by LoriFLA 13 January | 21:09
I am sitting here imagining Bob Sarabia licking his pussy clean.

] OK, apologies for that one. heheh [
posted by mischief 13 January | 21:12
I hate to disagree with my perma-crush loquacious, BUT...

When I had a pair of cat who I adopted as kittens and lived in a flea-prone area, I bathed them (in the tub with pet-safe and/or flea soap) about once a month starting when they were tiny.

This served several purposes:

1) When they did catch fleas (and they DID), I could do something about it with a minimum of fuss and bloodshed.

2) I'm kinda allergic, so it kept the dander down. Then they could sleep with me and we were all happy.

3) One of my favorites had oily hair and dandruff. It wasn't anything but genetics. And that good boy was a 26-lb black panther of a wonder-cat with a softball-sized head who mostly acted like he was the family dog, including spreadeagling for belly loving. He was also a junkie for catnip and when he stretched up on my leg, I could pet him with without bending whatsoever.

4) They knew who their "momma" was and didn't give me too much crap (or, once again, bloodshed).

Just putting in in an alternate view here. I didn't bother to post in that other place.

Please keep in mind that I loved, loved, loved my kitties and miss them even still. They never hated me for the drenching.
posted by lilywing13 13 January | 22:58
Oh jeez... I swear I previewed that. Please excuse the typos.
posted by lilywing13 13 January | 23:00
We used to give my ex husband's cat baths. She was quite old, and a long hair, and couldn't clean like she used to.
That maybe three, four times a year, combined with having her, um, personal area shaved kept her from smelling like litterbox all the time. And carrying bits of it around in her matted fur.

Only thing was, she was a maine coon, and when she realized what was going on every time she would start in on the vocalizations. Which, in a maine coon, are unique.

Imagine fighting a sixteen pound cat into a tub while she howls a very clear "NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
posted by kellydamnit 13 January | 23:07
My second wife had an 18 pound long haired cat, that couldn't keep himself clean, and didn't try very hard. The cat routinely stunk, and shed hair and dander at prodigious rates, and so, when I moved in, I did so on the promise the cat would live outside. That lasted maybe a week, and so I undertook to wash the cat, and gear up to do so at regular intervals. I figured that if the cat didn't take to baths, he might get the idea to find another home, on his own.

I picked up a bag of Chinese finger puzzles at a novelty store, and a large monofilament fish landing net. Our kitchen was long and narrow, and had a Mexican tile floor upon which the cat could get little purchase, and so I begin each bath by chasing the cat into the kitchen, with the fish net in hand. Once in the kitchen, it was a matter of about 2 minutes to force the cat into the net, yowling and screeching as he might. A quick twist, and the cat could be painlessly immobilized, as easily as landing a small alligator gar. After the first few times, the cat seemed to give up his fight early on being caught in the net, and put all his energy in protesting the procedure by yowling and hissing. But he was never hurt one bit, except as regards his pride.

In the early going, I planned to just keep the cat twisted lightly in the landing net, and dunk him in wash tubs of warm, soapy water. But the problem with that was that it was difficult or impossible to work out the frequently matted clumps in his fur, and to ensure that the shampoo and flea treatments of the day were actually penetrating. That's where the Chinese finger puzzles came in. With the cat in the net, it was comparatively easy to jam a finger puzzle on each of his paws, and to work his head around to be able to grab him in one hand, from behind his head, with my index and middle fingers over his head between the ears, and my thumb under one side of his lower jaw, and ring and little finger under the other side of his lower jaw. Thus prepared, he could be handled easily with one hand, with zero chance of biting or scratching me, and was free to yowl his protests as much as he wanted. And I had one hand free to wash him thoroughly, and handle the water and shampoo. If the water was warm enough, and the hair dryer I used afterward in winter kept him very warm, he'd eventually run out of fight and pipe down to pitiful little yowls and hissing, but he truly hated his weekly baths. When the wash (and winter time drying) were over, I'd pop him back in the fish net, twist it up a bit to immobilize him, pop off the wet finger puzzles through the mesh of the net, and dump him out of the fish net onto the back patio, with little but his pride the worse for wear.

He didn't get hurt, and I never got scratched or bitten, and mostly, he didn't stink. But I never did fix his damnable fish breath.
posted by paulsc 13 January | 23:13
Oh, man, that got deleted? It is an excellent answer. I can only add that if you do have to bathe your kitty, strip down and get in the shower with him/her. I've bathed several kitties several times and I've found it's the best method.
posted by deborah 13 January | 23:25
Chinese finger puzzles?!
posted by stilicho 14 January | 01:13
I've never had a cat...warm wet washcloths aren't enough?
posted by brujita 14 January | 01:14
"Chinese finger puzzles?!"
posted by stilicho 14 January

Yep. They work a treat on big cats, and ol' Teddy hated them, most every week, for the 4 years I lived with his owner. But I think he saw me as a temporary nuisance, and eventually, he was right.

She accidently backed over him in her car 4 months after we seperated. He was tough, though, and lived 4 days after having most of his ribs and spine crushed.

I'd have had him put down immediately, but she felt bad for running over him, so he had to suffer, while she "nursed" him. I think he'd have rather had a bath.
posted by paulsc 14 January | 01:48
Glad I could post a question that could produce that kind of answer, loquacious. By the time I checked back it was gone.

Btw both my cats are young, small and routinely bathe themselves and each other. They're actually quite soft too. I was just worried that I wasn't giving them the proper care. I'm not going to worry about anymore though.
posted by court siem 14 January | 02:02
Yeah, cats are pretty low maintainance. It really is one of their charms. Feed 'em, scritch 'em and leave 'em alone. Or pester them with tinfoil booties, your choice.

By all means, do keep an eye on 'em and feel around in their fur for weird stuff like bumps or sores, but a normal, healthy cat usually requires no bathing, especially not the young soft ones. :)

Also, cats like grass. They need it for digestion. A handful of clean grass brought inside is a treat for indoor cats - they go nuts! And if you ever see your cats rolling around in a dusty spot, they're trying to take a dust bath. Normally they'd do this outdoors in a nice, dry sandy or dusty spot, but most cats aren't allowed to freely roam outdoors these days. (Which is mostly good, because cats have a habit of dying under cars.)

While you can buy "cat grass", I haven't heard about a solution for dust-bathing for indoor cats.
posted by loquacious 14 January | 02:13
Wait, bob sarabia == court siem!?

*scratches head* Well, I'll be plum jiggered.
posted by loquacious 14 January | 02:15
FWIW, the only way I can trim my big cat's claws is to get him into 4" of bathwater.

I'm counting in my head, and it think it's only one of you who's ever met my cat in person (you know who you are, and I think your experience will back me up here). Everyone else who's met him would agree that trimming his claws contributes to the greater good of the world. Everyone who's ever been in my life agrees on that.

I used to take him to the vet for a trimming, but he's such an asshole that the vet finally put a red star on his chart, which meant that I got charged extra for every visit.

Over time, I somehow realized that I could trim his claws while bathing him. First time I bathed him, there was a flea issue. (Previous apartment renters were skeevy, apprently.) It took two of us (new and acquiescent girlfriend), but we managed to get the gjy bathed and trimmed. He only weighed 10 pounds then.

Anyway, fast-forward. The only way to make his claws go from slit-your-throat-sharp to slightly-annoying-when-he-hits-you is to put him in the tub and trim them. I've been doing it alone ever since.

You'd think he'd kill, no? Well, it turns out that he's so focused on GETTING OUT, he has no inclination whatsoever to attack. Only thing in his head is "out."

So, I'll refrain from answering over there. But I would highly recommend that court siem bathe his cat. At least once. See if it brings out any positive behavioral characteristics, or if it shifts the power balance in any way. Regular bathings can't hurt (the cat), and they might actually turn out to be a GOOD thing (for the human).

Or maybe not. But at least try it.

Also note that I have a second cat, and she's never been bathed by me. I don't think she's mentally equipped to handle it, though I have been tempted. The post-bath little cat, I think, would be very much like a post-lobotomy Randle McMurphy, and there's enough going on around here that I'm just happier that she smell like stale tuna.
posted by mudpuppie 14 January | 05:00
Hey now, that's my image. Original here. I posted it in the thread but it was removed as a jokey answer I guess.
posted by Rhomboid 14 January | 07:59
(well actually that's not the /original/, which was somebody's flickr set of giving that poor cat a bath. It was a great set though, with a few dozen cute shots.)
posted by Rhomboid 14 January | 08:02
Mefite FauxScot (and my neighbor) just posted pictures of his cats getting a recent bath.
posted by terrapin 14 January | 09:44
Wait, bob sarabia == court siem!?

Heh, I did that a couple days ago.
posted by deborah 14 January | 11:53
ok, I'll amit it here. I am catwoman. That is, I've had a lot of cats but right now I only have one. When I get them as kittens, I teach them to bathe - in the seventies I had two that used to swim in the pool whenever it got too hot for them. The only way to tell the diffrence between those two was that one would do a lap around the pool, and the other would just hop in, and then hop out. Pretty funny.

Now, when you teach kittens to bathe, it's not that hard. The key is to dry them off properly because cats don't really hate water, they hate having their undercoat wet, which makes them cold. Dry off with one towel straight from bath and then move them to another soft fluffy towel with which you will both snuggle and dry them. Try and get them as dry as you can before letting them go and have a towel snuggle area ready for them, near heater or in the sunlight where they can complete their bath the cat way by licking themselves even dryer while basking.

Never bathe them when it's cold in the house or no sun to bask in.
Never use human shampoo, they loose essential undercoat oils and will get itchy. It's worth buying a cat shampoo even though they are expensive because those things last forever.

If you bathe them in tub the temp should be just right, like yours really. It's like bathing a baby, too hot or too cold will freak them out.
I've known cats who allow to be blow dried but I never dared to teach my cats that trick. I've taught cats to bathe who were almost a year old, be patient with them, start with the kitchen sink and let them play with running water first.
There's no real reason to bathe cats, unless they are full of junk and/or smelly. They usually take care of themselves very well. But some cats actually like it - my current cat has a habit of running into the shower with me when he wants pampering. He's not that into baths, but showers he really likes.
posted by dabitch 14 January | 12:20
ps - my baby-daddy is kinda freaked about cats and didn't like it at all when the cat wanted to enter the shower with him. ;) "omg! He's gona mistake my Mr. for a dangly toy get him outta here. eeek!!"
*snort giggle snort*
posted by dabitch 14 January | 12:24
Hey now, that's my image. Original here. I posted it in the thread but it was removed as a jokey answer I guess.

Thanks Rhomboid, I couldn't for the life of me remember where I'd got it from. Wasn't trying to pass it off as my own.
posted by chrismear 14 January | 13:43
"omg! He's gona mistake my Mr. for a dangly toy get him outta here. eeek!!"

That would be funny if it hadn't happened to me already. I've actually been nailed in the crotch numerous times by my cats.
posted by court siem 14 January | 15:13
Yeah, I told you guys I have scars from cat-bathing, right? I'm not joking.
posted by loquacious 14 January | 17:56
COIL || Blogger help?