Compared to other pets, it’s cats and kittens that are usually considered to be self-groomed. This means that you as the owner will have minimal cleaning to do. However, the trouble comes in when they get their fur stained because equally, not most kittens love taking baths. Now, if you happen to have a rebellious pet, chances are that you’re not giving them a bath the right way, or you haven’t trained them well-enough.
Therefore, to keep both you and the kitten safe when it’s time to have them groomed, you need to know more about kittens bath, that is, what you should or should not do. In this article, we will discuss the best ways you can acclimate your kitten to baths and a clear guide on how to give kitten baths.
How to Prepare Kittens for a Bath
Ensure they’re At Least 8 Weeks Old
As mentioned before, cats often self-groom, and that’s exactly what the mother cat would do before the kitten gets to 8 weeks. Before this time, most parts of their bodies haven’t fully developed and any slight mishandling can greatly cost you. However, if yours is an adopted one and have to do the grooming yourself, ensure that you only clear the stained fur areas as opposed to giving them a full bath.
At the same time, you should only use something soft and mild when cleaning. Something to add is that you should introduce them to baths at 8 weeks old even if they don’t need it in order to cut back on the aggression most adult cats show when it clocks bath time. Starting early also gives you enough time to identify any possible allergies that the kitten could be having, so that you know what not to put in their baths.
Get Them Familiarised with Thorough Handling
Generally, kittens bath will have you handling your pet in ways they aren’t used to, and that’s why you have to acclimate them to this process early enough. This helps prepare them for what bathing looks like and the amounts of handling required. For this, you can place them in an empty sink or any other place you’ll be giving them baths from, and handle their splayed toes, paws, back, tummy and the ears without necessarily bathing them.
Start with a Bath-tub, with no Water
Most people have the mind-set that kittens are best bathed in sinks, but then this is not the case. This could be safe for both of you having in mind that the kitten can jump out of that sink with much ease. In the process, they can either sustain injury or have you injured. This is why you should go for a bathtub, in that the tub basin can help keep the kitten constrained.
Now the idea is to have them acclimated, and that’s why there should be no water in there, just yet. This gives the little one a chance to sniff and explore around before it gets to the point where you have to add water. Actually, this is something you can do before the kitten gets to 8 weeks because no water is involved.
Wet their Paws
At this point, you can be certain that the kitten is prepared enough to feel the water and the best part to start with is their paws. Fill the bathtub with about 1 or 2 inches of warm water, or until their paws are fully covered. One way to help the kitten adjust to running water is by doing it whilst they’re already in there. For the first time, they may be tempted to run away, and that’s why it’s advisable to keep the doors shut.
However, the key thing is keeping the kitten safe and comfortable, so keep them supported under the belly with your hands as you lower their paws into the water. Apart from that, praises can also go a long way in keeping the kitten calm, therefore you can bring out your petting magic so that they don’t escape. This might not work out for you just after the first trial, therefore be sure to try this several times until you’re certain that they can stand water.
Dry the Paws
Leaving the fur wet can easily make kittens too cold, so after your water-trial, remember to dry their paws with a dry towel. Gently rub the towel on the wet areas immediately you lift them from water even if only the paws were immersed.
No one can prepare you for the process of acclimating your kitten to baths because it needs loads of patience, depending on how timely and effective you are with the whole process. Just as you would with a toddler, never at any point raise your voice or get angry because that will only scare them further, slowing the learning process.
Most professionals recommend treats and praises, having been established as the most effective bath reward for kittens. One of the ways you can hack this is by training them before their meals are served. The technique can make them stand getting their fur wet because of the assured treat afterwards.
A Simple Guide on How to Give Kitten Baths
Once the acclamation phase is completed, giving your kitten a bath shouldn’t be a challenge anymore. However, here is a simple guide and some great tips for you and your little friend:
However tiny the kitten is, at times a little help when bathing them is all you need. Cats can be somewhat unpredictable, meaning that they can still get aggressive moments into having baths. At the same time, you can easily scruff them to help keep them calm, but then this can be difficult when you’re already scrubbing or lathering the fur. This is why an extra hand might be needed to help manage situations when the kitten is still adjusting to the water. Your help should be on hand so that they help manage any situation the moment you already have your hands occupied.
When it’s time to start wetting the whole fur, you can start by using a wet washcloth as opposed to pouring water over them, all at once. You can use this to rub the soiled fur to help clean and also reward then with some petting. You’ll realize that the kitten will love this method more compared to making them drenched.
In the spirit of keeping it mild and gentle, you should avoid introducing shampoo to kitten’s bath until they fully adjust to water. It also helps rescue situations where the kitten is uncooperative, making your work easier because you won’t be stuck with an already lathered kitten.
However if the kitten is all in, you can give them a full shampoo bath which shouldn’t go beyond five minutes in order to have them fully cleaned. With the latter, you have to carefully select the shampoo brand that you use having in mind that the kitten’s coat is soft and fragile, which means that any excessive chemicals can be irritating.
Pour Water on the Back
After successfully completing the washcloth-trial, you can now confidently move to splashing water over their back. You can start by using a small bowl or cup as you carefully let the water flow over their back in order to wet the fur or rinse off the shampoo. This step is critical, so if your kitten effortlessly hacks it, you should equally reward them with those praises and treats because yes, they deserve it.
Don’t Pour Water on the Kitten’s Face
One of the reasons why you’re advised to pour water over their back and not all over their body is because of how unsafe it is to get water in a kitten’s eyes, nose or ears. The simplest way to do this is by lifting their chin so that you create a gradient when wetting their fur as you get closer to the head.
If the kitten is calm and needs no restraining, you can also use the extra hand to keep the water from flowing to their face. Now your guess is as good as mine; the face still has to be cleaned, right? You still need a damp soft washcloth to wipe around the ears, eyes and mouth, and remember to avoid making it soapy. You can let your strokes be as gentle as a mother’s lick, which most kittens are used to by following the direction the fur lies.
If the kitten is already comfortable with water being poured on their fur, it means that you can now trust them with deep baths. This also means that you can start introducing lathering, and of course with the right kitten shampoo; not your regular human shampoo. The only thing you need to watch is the portion used, so only start with a few drops.
Depending on how dirty the fur is, you can gently scrub the lathered fur and any other areas that could possibly trap dirt. One challenge about shampooing is that it could overly-dry the kitten’s skin especially when used more often. This is because it somehow gets rid of the natural oil on the skin, but then this can be improved by investing in shampoo with natural oil extracts to keep both the fur and skin in good shape.
Give a Thorough Rinse
By now, the kitten will definitely be familiar with running water, so rinsing off the shampoo won’t be challenging. This should be done immediately to minimize chances of shampoo staying long on your pet’s skin. The same logic used when pre-wetting the kitten’s fur applies here, in that you should keep water off their head.
So, if you notice any traces of shampoo around the head, just wipe it using a wrung-out washcloth. It’s not advisable to rush kitten’s bath, but at the same time, you shouldn’t leave them soaked for long.
Dry The Kitten Properly
Giving kitten baths can seem hectic at the start, and so is drying them afterwards. Proper grooming dictates that you keep the fur brushed, but this will be challenging if you don’t use the towel correctly. The first thing you need to do is get the drying started immediately you lift them off the bathtub.
This not only makes the fur easy-to-manage, but also prevents them from getting too cold, which can in the end create complications. To minimize matting and tangling, you should cover the kitten using a dry and clean towel, then use the free end to gently press on the skin to drain out excess water.
A towel is considered the safest option compared to electric dryers, however, you can still use the latter but at the coolest temperatures and on lower speeds. After that struggle, you shouldn’t do anything that will scare the little one, so keep your dryer inches away from the kitten.
Training your kitten for baths revolves around one thing; keeping them comfortable. This require that you master the necessary skills which should now be easier, all thanks to the amazing guide for kitten’s bath. As a pet owner, you should also get to know your pet, so that you figure out what’s favourable for them and what doesn’t go well with them.
This helps a great deal when looking for bath requirements, especially pet wash and conditioners. It also helps identify and interpret your kitten’s reaction to the different bath acclamation stages, helping you know if you’re making progress or not. However at the end of the day, you still have control over what happens in your pet’s cycle, that’s why it’s still okay to ask for professional help when it comes to grooming your kitten until the moment they’re fully trained.