Why My Cat Won’t Bathe Herself, What To Do?

Cats are well known for being clean and neat animals. But what happens if your cat suddenly stopped bather herself or you have a young cat that never really learned the important lesson of self-grooming.

The cat can stop bathing herself in case he is ill ( pain, dental issues, joint problems), overweight, or a senior. If the young cat was separated from its mother too soon, he might have never learned how to properly clean herself. In order to help a cat that won’t bathe herself, discover the reason first, since lack of self-grooming might indicate some underlying health issue that needs to be solved. Cat wipes can help in cleaning your cat, as well as a dry bath if the cat is not accustomed to the water. Eventually, take your cat to the vet or professional groomer who can bathe your cat for you.

Why My Cat Won’t Bathe Herself?

Cats are usually very clean animals. No cat that has self-respect allows him or herself to smell and look terrible. If your can doesn’t clean herself properly or has just stopped doing it, you should find the reason since the dirty and stinky cat has some problem for sure.

Your Cat Is Ill – if your cat suffers from some disease that can affect her usual, daily habits related to grooming. For example, if your cat has dental issues ( infected gums- gingivitis, tooth root abscess, loss of teeth) it will be very uncomfortable for her to groom herself normally. In that situation, she will be grooming herself less than usual or not at all. The same will happen if your cat has some joint/bones problems. If she suffers from osteoarthritis, she will most probably ignore some spots due to pain and discomfort. Other health conditions like digestive problems, parasitic infections, heart murmur, chronic pain, or different kinds of injuries may also affect a cat’s grooming habits. If the cat feels weak, vomits, has diarrhea, tends to sleep more, eats less, is dehydrated then she certainly won’t clean herself thoroughly as she used to.

Your cat is too old– This is usually related to illnesses common for senior age. Older cats have joint problems, dental issues which prevent them from cleaning themselves as they did before.

Your Cat is overweight – If you look at your cat from above and you cannot see the waistline ( between the ribcage and hips) then your kitty might be bigger than she should. Put your hands on your cat’s back. Can you feel the bones? Or the bones are hidden under the layer of fat. If you do have an overweight feline pet, that you might notice that she is not very good at keeping good hygiene. A cat that is too fat will have difficulties reaching some parts of her body to clean them up, especially the rear end area. Even if your cat has some condition like hypothyroidism or diabetes which can cause obesity, you should be able to help your cat lose weight with medications and a proper diet. Don’t just make your cat starve since this won’t be good for her health. She could easily end up with liver damage.

Your cat doesn’t know how to groom herself – The kittens should stay with their mother until they are 12-14 weeks old. Although there are many people that think that the young cat can live independent lives when they turn 8 weeks, that’s not really true. Young cats have a lot to learn from their mother. Proper grooming is one of them. The thing is that grooming is not a natural behavior for cats. Baby cats learn about hygiene and grooming from their mother. If they are separated from their mom too early then they don’t have enough time to practice proper grooming techniques. And not only that. They simply won’t learn how nice it is to be clean.

How To Help A Cat That Won’t Bathe Herself?

If you notice that your cat’s grooming habits have been changed all of sudden, do observe her for a couple of days and then take her to the vet. The vet should examine her in order to rule out health conditions that could cause her to stop cleaning herself.

The vet can also help you if you are not sure if your cat is obese. If it turns out that your cat is too fat which prevents her from keeping herself neat and tidy then you need to help her lose some weight. Consult with the vet about the reason why your cat became overweight. If it’s not some medical condition but only a lack of exercise and a bad diet, then you can solve the problem with a few changes in your cat’s daily routine. Offer her canned food a few times a day instead of leaving the dry food at her disposal for the whole day. Encourage her to play more, to be more active. Cut the treats. If your cat really loves dry food ( although the majority of cats prefer canned, wet food ) provide a feeding ball. She will have to work for every single bite!

If your cat is too old or ill you need to help with the grooming. Since she cannot clean herself properly, you need to do that for her. Depends on how your cat behaves in the water, you can bathe her or perform a dry bath. For every day cleaning the cat’s wipes can do the work.

No matter you have a cat that suddenly stopped cleaning herself because she is ill or old or you have a kitten that was separated from his mother too early so never learned how to clean himself properly, you need to help your pet. A dirty and stinky cat is not only a source of bad smell for you, but it’s also a potentially dangerous situation for the cat itself.

Does your cat love being in the water? Many cats have issues with the water, they don’t what to expect from it, don’t know how to behave in the water… but the thing is that cats can be taught to love water. I have found a great tutorial on how to get a cat used to water/bath with no stress. Take a look.

Some cats will start taking care of hygiene after you bathe them. Some of them won’t. Some cats like to take a bath no matter if they clean themselves regularly. In any case, it’s a very good idea to get your cat used to the water.

How To Bathe A Cat?

Bathing a cat is essential if your feline friend cannot clean herself properly. According to the National Cat Groomers Institute of America even a cat that regularly cleans herself needs to be bathed every 4-6 weeks. So the feline with poor grooming practice more often.

There are a few rules when it comes to bathing a cat:

  • Many cats’ parents suggest that it is better than two persons bathe one cat. One person can hold a cat, while another person gently massages the cat to remove all dirty staff from her coat.
  • First you need to prepare the area. A bathtube is good place for bathing the adult cat but sink is much better solution for kittens.
  • Prepare a towels, a plastic cup which you will use for rinsing and cats shampoo. Never use a human, not even a dog shampoo. Try to provide a shampoo specially designed for cats, since there are some substances that could be found in dog’s cleaning products that could harm a cat.
  • Don’t forget to close the doors of the bathroom to prevent your cat from escaping.
  • Brush your cat before washing, this will remove dust and detangle matted fur.
  • You can use the opprtunity and clip the cat’s nails. It’s less like to get scratched during bathtime if you do that
  • Some cats parents suggest that playing with a cat before bathing is a good thing to do. Bathing usually carries a stress for our feline friends so relaxing them with play and spending some time with them before the stressful event may help them to go through it easier.
  • The water in the bathtube should be 4-6 inches deep, so it reaches the cat’s underbelly
  • Place a towel on the bottom of bathtube to avoid cat’s skidding.
  • The water shouldn’t be too hot not too cold ( slightly warmer then lukewarm water) Cat generally prefer warmer water then dogs but it shouldn’t be too hot
  • Bathing a cat is actually a gentle massage of her body, start from the neck, then go to the back and all the way to the tail. Don’t forget underbelly and the legs. Avoid eyes, ears, and face area. The cat’s head should never be wet. You can use your wet hands to clean her face or some wet cloth.
  • Drying a cat is very important. Use a soft towel to abosorb as much water as possible. You can use a blowdryer on the the low to dry your pet thoughly. Don’t forget that the room temperature should be between 85-88F.
  • Don’t forget to reward your cat after a bath, giving her some treats she likes

How Do I Give My Cat A Dry Bath?

A dry bath is a more convenient way of bathing a cat since many cats are not great fans of water.

You can find a wide offer of waterless shampoos specially designed for cats on the market. They come in the form of mousse, powder, or spay. Before you start giving your cat a dry bath, make sure she is very well fed, not thirsty, and used a litter box recently. Like for a water bath, you need the help of another person for a dry bath as well.

Place your cat in a confined area of your home, cover it with newspapers to protect it from dust, and start ”bathing” your cat. While one person is holding the cat, another one should gently apply the waterless shampoo to the cat from head to the tail, according to the manufactures instructions. Use a cat’s comb to comb out the dust thoroughly in order to avoid your cat ingesting the particles of shampoo once she starts licking herself.

If you can choose, go for foam or powder waterless shampoos since the spray shampoos may frighten the cat when applying.

Be aware of the fact that a dry bath cannot substitute the old-fashioned bath with water and shampoo. If you have a heavily matted cat, that is smelly, dirty, shedding profusely, or has a dandruff issue, the dry bath cannot solve these problems.

Cats wipes are another product you can use for daily cleaning but those are not meant to be for deep cleaning. You can remove the excess dander and hairs while moisturizing the cat’s coat. Note that cat wipes are only for quick clean-up.

How To Teach A Young Cat To Bathe Herself?

Note that the kittens should start grooming themselves at the age of 6 weeks. If your cat was separated from her mother too early she actually never learned how to bathe herself properly.

If you have a young cat that doesn’t know how to groom herself properly, you should help her. If you have another cat that acts friendly with the younger one, you can do the following: Take a small amount of food and smear it on the non-groomer young cat ( around the mouth area). The smell of the food will motivate the other cat to start licking the food of the young cat. If you repeat this several times, most likely the self-grooming cat will get into the habit of cleaning the other one. This way maybe the younger one gets the idea and starts cleaning herself.

If you don’t have another cat and want to encourage the young cat to start cleaning herself, take a slightly moistened paper towel, damp corner of a sponge or wet cloth and go over the cat’s face, throat, and back copying the cat’s movements – how she would go over herself with its own tongue if she did groom herself. Use short, gentle strokes along the grain of a cat’s coat. If you are playing mother-cat and cleaning her this way, she is more likely to learn how to do the same by herself.

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