Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I have a 5-month-old cat named Mephistopheles (Mephi) and we’ve had her and her brother Loki for two months. We rescued her, not only from whoever abandoned her, but also from the horrible, disgusting “shelter” she was being kept at. When we got them, they smelled like soured milk and mildewed clothes, so we had to bathe them. Loki took his bath no problem, but Mephi wouldn’t even let us pet her, let alone pick her up, so bathing her was out of the question — so for two months we’ve been dealing with a sickeningly stinky kitty. She trusts us a little more and will let me pet her now (the rest of the family still gets flattened ears and a poofed up tail), and is gritty and greasy to the touch. I tried sponge bathing her, but she bolted away and hid under the couch for almost four hours. The vet offered no advice and I don’t know what to do for her. I know cats are supposed to be self-cleaning but she’s really nasty right now.
Siouxsie: Awww, poor little kitten. No self-respecting cat wants to smell terrible, that’s for sure! I’m really shocked that the place you got these cats didn’t bathe them before they let you adopt them, but I’m glad Mephi and her brother are safe in your family now.
Thomas: The good news is, there is a way you can get the worst of the reek and grunge out of poor Mephi’s fur …
Bella: … and make her feel like she’s getting some nice, loving petties at the same time!
Siouxsie: We’re talking about a “dry bath.” There are lots of commercial dry shampoos for cats, which you can find at any pet store. These typically come in the form of a powder or a mousse that you rub or brush into the cat’s fur and leave on.
Thomas: If you go this route, make sure the dry bath you get is specifically formulated for cats because some ingredients that might be OK for dogs could harm cats.
Bella: Another option is to create a DIY dry bath for cats using oats or bran.
Siouxsie: VetInfo.com has an article on how to make and use a dry bath for your cat. This article also mentions things you can add to the preparation to decrease odor, which you may want to use.
Thomas: And WikiHow has a five-step pictorial presentation on how to give a dry bath.
Bella: Another option is to use cat wipes. You know those fold-up wet napkin things you humans sometimes get at restaurants? Cat wipes are like that.
Siouxsie: But cat wipes aren’t really for deep cleaning. Most of the time people use them to help control allergens because they get saliva and dander off the fur. Mama uses cat wipes on me sometimes when I’m feeling under the weather and I haven’t been able to keep myself as clean and shiny as I’d like.
Thomas: The cat wipes will be better for maintenance and upkeep once you’ve gotten the worst of the grime and grunge out of Mephi’s fur.
Bella: Of course, you do have one other option: you can bring Mephi to a groomer and have the groomer bathe her. Groomers are professionally trained to handle animals and can get your kitty clean and shiny with minimal trauma to the cat or themselves. It might be worth spending the money on a groomer or at your vet’s office to have them bathe Mephi for you.
Siouxsie: If you do bring Mephi to a groomer, make sure that groomer has separate areas for cats and dogs, or that you’re there to take her home as soon as she’s finished, because nothing will freak a scared cat out like having to wait in a room full of barking dogs!
Bella: The best thing about having someone else bathe her is that she’s not left thinking of you as the cause of her trauma! Tee hee hee!
Thomas: Good luck, Rachel. We hope you can get your little Mephi smelling sweet in no time!
Siouxsie: What about you other readers? Have you had to bathe a cat that didn’t want to be bathed? How did you do it? Please share your answers in the comments.