Washing My Old Man


It went surprisingly really well, and he's never had a bath in his life. I'm just posting my experience incase anyone wants some info on how to bathe a senior cat that's never had a bath before, since it went so well for me.:cat:

My 12 year old senior cat, Shadow, has arthritis in his hips, and I think he hasn't been cleaning himself well lately because of it. I give him Cosequin as per the vet along with glucosamine food, and he's doing better, but he still seems a little sore. He had pretty bad dander all over, coarse fur, and what I call "sebum powder" around his neck; when a dog/cat hasn't been cleaned in a long time, the oils in their fur and skin seem to dry up and turn into a fine white powder. Yuck. I first wiped him down with cat wipes, but they didn't help much.

Since I am a bather at a pet salon and have a bit of experience with this, I decided to give him a bath. Not a waterless bath, those don't do a good job. A full-blown bath with shampoo and conditioner. I decided on a tea tree pet shampoo to help with the dandruff and oils, and an oatmeal pet conditioner to help with the dryness, dandruff, and to make his coat silky. I don't recommend using tea tree shampoo often, because tea tree oil is poisonous to cats in high enough quantities. Only use tea tree pet/cat shampoo from a good brand (I used Earthbath) if you want to use tea tree for a minor skin problem. I also wouldn't give a cat a bath with tea tree shampoo for a skin problem more than once for that problem.
I have a shower/bathtub that has a handheld shower head and glass doors. Before the bath, I put a bath mat in the tub and gathered all the supplies: towels, shampoo, treats, etc. For the bath, I wore a sports bra and athletic shorts (because my swimsuit reeks of chlorine).

Today, he was sleeping on my bed, and the bathroom is attached to my bedroom, so it was a perfect opportunity. I filled the tub with about 5 inches of warm water. The noise of the running water didn't disturb him; he didn't suspect a thing. Then I spent some time petting him and giving him treats; he was loving it and purring. Then I picked him up - still purring. Then I walked into the bathroom - still purring. Then I stepped into the tub - still purring. Then I closed the shower door - he stopped purring. I felt kind of bad, but he didn't protest too much as I sat down with him. I held him in my lap while I started pouring water over him with a cup. He struggled a bit at first and pawed the door, but he calmed down when he realized he couldn't get out and that the water wasn't hurting him. With animals, I find that having an opportunity to escape while giving baths makes them way more stressed out than being "trapped" because they'll spend the entire bath struggling and panicking. However, never corner an animal, especially dogs.

I didn't scruff Shadow much during the bath, mainly because I was focusing on scrubbing his neck. I also usually don't scruff my cats, so he's used to me restraining him by holding his chest. I don't have anything against scruffing, I actually recommend it, but since I don't do it to my cats often, I didn't want to freak him out by doing something strange.

Then I applied the tea tree shampoo all over his body (except his head and privates, it'll sting his unmentionables) and started scrubbing gently. Once he was soaped up, I used a cup to pour water onto him until the shampoo had been washed off. He was pretty dirty; some unidentified chunks appeared in the water, probably dirt from outside. After that, I massaged him with the oatmeal conditioner and let it sit for a couple minutes. I then opened the drain and grabbed the shower head, turning on the water to warm (that part scared him initially) and thoroughly rinsed him off. I do not recommend using conditioner without some kind of nozzle that sprays water; you will never get all the conditioner off otherwise. A good way to check if your cat still has soap residue in his fur is to rub it; if any suds form, there's still soap.

Once there was no trace of soap left, I wrapped him in a towel and started rubbing him dry. I switched to a new towel when the one I was using got too wet. Once he was pretty dry, I set him in front of the fireplace on top of a dry towel and turned it on, followed by a treats and cuddle session while brushing him with his favorite brush. I also turned on his heat lamp with a dry towel under it, along with some catnip. I did not use a hair dryer because that would've scared the living daylights out of him.
He was really happy as soon as he was out of the tub, because he started purring. I was surprised because he's normally somewhat timid and refuses treats when stressed.

Sorry for rewriting the Iliad, I was trying to cover everything that I did!
  • Thread Starter


I didn't take many photos on account of the water, a wet cat, and the fact I was flying solo.

Here he is dried off and grooming himself under his heat lamp, which is actually some really inefficient office lights.

He moved to the fireplace again later. He lives in the lap of luxury; that's basically his personal fireplace, since no one else uses it. He looks so velvety-soft now!:cat: He smells nice too.


Well done! Lucky kitty..

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