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January 17, 2010

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Happier bath times

WATER is to cats as kryptonite is to Superman. So you should never expect your feline fur ball to jump into the bathtub just like a golden retriever.

A cat's natural aversion to water is all that matters to it as you risk defensive clawing and blood loss in the bathroom. But what if you could change its mind?

Getting a cat to enjoy a bath is a huge accomplishment, but the occasional brush down is always needed, especially for those with long hair and the natural development of fur-balls.

If possible, start to get the cat used to a bath when it is a kitten. They are easier to train at this age than older.

However, with patience and use of a little "cat psychology," you can ultimately train your cat to "enjoy," or at least tolerate, healthy soaking from head to toe.

As pre-preparation, you should take the cat with you when you use water, such as letting it into the bathroom when you shower, wash your face or brush your teeth.

Get the cat familiar with the environment of water and if it shows interest in a running tap or jumping into the tub after you shower, let it investigate.

Cats are curious about everything.

Cutting your cat's nails must be the first step, a necessary and important one if you don't want it to panic and use you as a scratching pole.

Brushing its fur is necessary before bathing, not only because it is enjoyable and calming, but because you'll remove excess hair, preventing it from clogging the drain.

The water should be lukewarm so check its temperature with your wrist as you would for a baby's bottle of milk.

Wet your hands and slowly and gently pet the cat with them. Make sure that you do not put the cat directly under a tap on the first go.

Put a towel in the bottom of the sink or bath tub to prevent slipping and sliding as the cat tries to find its footing on the slick, wet surface.

If it tries to flee, return it gently but firmly and don't forget to talk to it! Or feed it with the usual treats for encouragement.

Once the bath is over, towel dry the animal if it has short or medium hair.

Use a blow-dryer on low to speed up the process for long-haired cats.


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