What is the best way to bathe my cat?

I got this information from a Persian Breeder but it’s a good guideline for any cat.  At the end is about how to bathe a short hair kitten.

Grooming is not the terrible chore some people believe, and can be soothing and enjoyable to both cat and owner. When a cat is kept bathed and clean, there is need for only minimal combing or brushing in between baths. Also, a clean cat does not have problems with hairballs. Clean cats do not shed the dander that causes many people to have allergic reactions. Most Persians need baths every 4-6 weeks to look their finest, but some can go longer intervals. Here is our recommendation on how to bathe a Persian cat:

  1. The absolute first thing to do before a bath is clip the cat's claws!
  2. Next, before you get the cat wet, it is very important to completely comb the cat out (with a metal "Greyhound" style comb) and remove loose hair and mats. If you get the cat wet before you do this, the mats will get much worse and possibly snarl so badly you will not be able to get them out at all.
  3. Start a bath with wetting the whole cat. It is recommended you bathe him in a laundry room type sink, or in the kitchen sink, where a sprayer type hose is available. DO NOT dunk the cat in water – it does not adequately rinse him, and it will scare him.
  4. After he is wet all over, slather a waterless mechanic’s hand soap (such as GOOP or GOJO which can be found in the automotive section of most Wal-Marts) liberally all over him, excepting the area immediately around his eyes, nose, and mouth. Concentrate on the chin, the ears, “ruff” area, and in and around the front legs. Be sure to use enough all over him until his coat feels slimy or “gooey.”
  5. Rinse the waterless mechanic's hand soap off the cat until the water runs clear. Now shampoo him with liquid dish soap such as Dawn or Joy (keep out of the eyes!). Rinse the dish soap out. Repeat & rinse well. If you feel he is still greasy, you can repeat either or both until you are satisfied with the condition of his coat. A clean coat will feel soft and silky as the rinse water flows through it.
  6. Proceed by sudsing with a “human” shampoo for oily hair or a PH balanced pet shampoo. Rinse very well. Wash face and eyes with a tearless baby shampoo on a washrag.
  7. This step is not needed for a shorthair cat. A conditioner at the end of the bath will help keep his coat from tangling and makes it easier to comb out. You might find it helpful to dilute about 2 tablespoons of conditioner in a quart of warm water & pour it over him, or you can spread it on full strength. Rinse the conditioner out.
  8. Towel dry the cat (blot dry), then again comb completely with a metal comb before you begin to blow-dry. Loose hair and mats can get worse during the drying process if not removed first.
  9. This step is not needed for a shorthair cat. Proceed to blow drying. The cat should be accustomed to this process if obtained from a reputable breeder, but don’t be surprised if he tries to test you the first few times to see what he can get away with. Use a hand-held pistol-style hair dryer propped up in a coffee can that can be weighted with cat litter. You will need probably two metal combs, one medium, one large, and a slicker brush. Comb and brush with the dryer blowing on the cat. You will need to dry him until he is thoroughly dry, excepting only some of the face area. Leaving him wet can cause the hair to dry curly and mat.
  10. Finally, use a Q-tip dipped in Boric Acid Powder (found at most drugstores) to clean and dry out his ears. The boric acid powder is a powerful drying agent that will dry up any water that you might have gotten in his ears during the bath, and thus prevent ear infections. Do not insert the Q-tip into any part of the ear you cannot easily see, as you can damage his ear.

In worst-case situations, if your Persian should become badly matted, do not try to comb or cut out mats. Either take him to a professional groomer or your veterinarian to be clipped down into a “lion” cut. The cats don’t mind, and it is much better to save them and you the pain and aggravation of trying to remove mats. Some Persian owners routinely have all or part of their cats clipped for summer.

Shorthair cats and kittens can benefit from bathing as well. While they may not need it as much, it does really help with the shedding and hairball prevention. We recommend you bathe your shorthair kitten once a week while it is still a kitten so you can both get used to the procedure while the kitten is still small and relatively easy to handle.

The process of bathing a shorthair kitten is similar to a Persian, but requires less steps. Like the Persian, be sure to clip the kitten’s nails before you begin. Also, never immerse the kitten in water; instead, use a "shower" to bathe the kitten. A utility sink is best, but a kitchen sink works as well. We recommend removing objects from around the sink before beginning to avoid them getting knocked down should the kitten try to make an escape.

The kitten will only need to be lathered and rinsed with shampoo twice. You can pick whatever pet shampoo has a scent that appeals to you most. Once rinsed completely the second time, towel (blot dry), then put the kitten in a warm room (during the summer, an enclosed sun room or porch works great, as long as the cat cannot get out. During the winter, a small bathroom with a heater is suitable.)

Leave them in the warm area until they are completely dry. You can use a hand held hair dryer to speed up the drying process, but it's not necessary. Be sure to follow step #10 outlined for bathing a Persian to make sure no water is left in the ears. After you and the kitten are used to the bathing process, a shorthair only needs baths about once every 3 or so months.  You can bathe more often if you want to really keep the shedding and dander to an absolute minimum. If you have allergies every two weeks or once a month would be good.