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The Chew: Grooming a Cat

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

When I first moved here six years ago from Brooklyn, N.Y., somewhere along the way my cats picked up fleas. With no money in my pocket, I had to deal with the issue myself instead of taking them to a professional. If you’ve never experienced giving three cats a flea dip, I don’t recommend trying. I was sure a neighbor would call the police to report a horrible crime was taking place from the sound of my cats’ yowling!

Cats by nature are clean animals. If you’re a cat owner, you know the two activities cats spend most of the day doing are sleeping and grooming.

So if cats are constantly grooming their fur, why do most of them dislike water?

Cats and Water

Although no one knows for certain, there are theories on why they freak out over a bath. When a cat’s fur gets wet, it feels heavier, making them very uncomfortable. Cats are naturally skittish and don’t care for surprises or change. When a cat is uncomfortable they’re not happy and won’t hesitate to let you know with a swift scratch or a piercing bite. Another reason is with wet fur, a cat experiences a loss of body heat, especially for those cats living in colder climates.

Another possibility is due to a cat’s sense of smell being up to 100,000 times stronger than ours. Perhaps they can smell the other nutrients or chemicals in our tap water and rebel against having that scent imbedded in their coats.

My personal favorite theory is that cats evolved from felines living in dry warm areas of the world, such as Egypt, and therefore saw very little water. As they evolved, water was something they never got used to.

Not all cats have a fear of water. Chimi, my first cat, often crawled into the shower with me to let the water run down on him. If a toilet seat were left up, I would find him sitting inside like it was his own personal bathtub. When I would run any tap in sinks he would crawl under the tap and submerge his head. He was an extraordinary feline, however, there are breeds of cats, such as the Turkish Van, often called the “swimming cat,” that love being in water.

If You Must…

Most cats don’t require baths on a regular basis, but if you must, here are a few tips for fellow cat owners:

  • Don’t add anything to the water like scented bubble bath or oils. Make sure the      water is warm and run the sink or bath before getting them in the tub. The sound of running water can add to their fear. Don’t rinse them under a running tap. Instead use a cup to rinse them after shampooing.
  • Stroke and talk to them in a soothing calm voice during the process.
  • Place a towel on the bottom of the sink or tub for them to stand on so they won’t feel as if they could slip.
  • Use a shampoo made specifically made for cats. Make sure it is unscented.

Consult a Professional

If you find your cat has fleas or needs a bath for other reasons, the best advice is take them to a professional. Our groomer, Lux, is amazing at grooming cats and has taught me how to handle them for any future baths, brush outs or nail trims to avoid potential emergency room visits. I sure could have used her advice six years ago.

By Sara Schabach-In-Home Pet Sitting Manager and Company Writer

If you have a question about your pet’s behavior, feel free to email [email protected]. If you, your pet, and behavior are featured in an article, you will receive $10 off any of our services.

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