Sakina loves birds. She had two IRN parrots and two budgies. Now she has two lovebirds, one of which is a peach-faced male she hand-raised.
The Importance of Bathing Lovebirds
Some lovebirds love water and bathe readily, while others are scared of water and make bathing difficult. Bathing helps to clean their feathers of bird dust and makes them feel less itchy. Moreover, a clean bird equals a clean environment, which is safer for both the birds and the owners.
How often do lovebirds need to bathe?
Lovebirds need to take a bath at least once a week in winter and daily (if possible) in summer.
Is your lovebird scared of bathing?
My lovebird, Mumu, likes to bathe but is scared of the water at times. When this happens, we have to apply different techniques to encourage our pets to take a bath.
5 Ways to Encourage Your Lovebirds to Bathe
Lovebirds are stubborn, especially when they are moody or bored. They may not take a bath even after many efforts by the owners. Here are some ways to encourage bathing in lovebirds:
- Pretend to Be Excited About the Bath
- Use Different Utensils
- Include Leafy Vegetables
- Use a Basin
- Try Spray Bathing
1. Pretend to Be Excited About the Bath
Act as if you are enjoying bathing by splashing your fingers in the bowl and making "excited" sounds.
2. Use Different Utensils
Try using different utensils when your pets want to bathe. Lovebirds get bored of routine and love new things. I once used a new soup bowl. Mumu jumped right on its edge and demanded to be bathed that very instant!
At times, lovebirds are scared of deep water. In this case, use shallow vessels and your pet will enjoy splashing around without fear.
3. Include Leafy Vegetables
Lovebirds may want to bathe but may be scared to jump in at the same time. When this happens, include spinach leaves or cilantro leaves in the water bowl. This way, your pets won't get intimidated by the water and will probably plunge in.
4. Use a Basin
If your lovebird doesn't bathe in a bowl, try using a basin. Make sure the stream of water is thin and warm. Your pet is likely to sit under the sprinkling water and bathe in the basin.
5. Try Spray Bathing
If the above methods don't work, try spray bathing your lovebirds. Take a spray bottle and fill it with warm water. Spray it slowly on your pet's body. Your pet may run around in the cage for a minute, but he/she will settle down and enjoy the spray bath.
My Lovebird Lulu Loves Bathing
My female lovebird, Lulu, loves water and bathes readily. At times, she plunges herself into the small water bowl we keep in the cage. When this happens, I remove the bowl and replace it with a large one and let her enjoy splashing around.
Some Words About My Pets
My lovebirds, Mumu and Lulu, are almost opposite personalities. Lulu loves trying to bathe in cold water (however, I don't let her do so), while Mumu prefers it lukewarm.
Most of the time, Lulu interferes when Mumu has a bath. Mumu is scared of water, and it takes a great deal of persuasion to bathe him. So, when Lulu wants to join in as well (considering the fact that she loves water), Mumu gets annoyed and leaves the "bathtub". When this happens, he remains annoyed 90% of the time and my chance of getting him clean goes in vain.
They used to bathe together when they first became mates. Things changed, and Mumu prefers bathing alone now.
At times, I've found Lulu and the cage wet as a result of her bathing. When I try to replace the water in the bowl, she even argues by placing her foot on top of it. She doesn't like warm water, but for her safety, I don't let her bathe in cold water.
Enjoy Your Bird's Next Bath!
Bathing is necessary to keep our lovebird pets clean and healthy. Though they have their different moods, lovebirds can be encouraged to take a bath. Do you have any stories to tell about your pets? Feel free to share them with me in the comments section below.
Questions & Answers
Question: My bird is afraid of me and it makes it difficult to bathe her (I have only had her for a month). She is about four months old. I purchased a premixed spray and she had a royal fit when I sprayed her. That was a few days ago. I tried putting a tub in her cage and she ignored it all day. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: If she's scared of spray baths, please avoid them. You mentioned a tub, how big is it? Small birds like a shallow vessel and please make sure it's not too big. If she's ignoring this regularly, either she might be scared of bathing or feels she doesn't require cleaning. Give her time; she might bathe with the water you provide for drinking. Please don't force the bird into bathing, some of are terrified of water (like my lovebird, Mumu). Birds like these bathe whenever they feel at ease.
Question: Is it okay to bathe the female lovebird when she is incubating her eggs?
Answer: Yes, it is, but please make sure the eggs aren't touched by water (in case you decide to give her a spray bath). Bathing is essential; it keeps the germs away.
Question: Should we give 2 months old baby lovebirds a bath?
Answer: Yes, you can give them a bath.
Question: What a beautiful video! I didn’t know this. Do we have to bathe lovebirds every day?
Answer: Yes, it's always a healthy measure to let your lovebirds bathe daily in summers.
Question: My lovebird loved bathing, but not now. He is scratching frequently. Is it because of not bathing?
Answer: Yes, not bathing makes them itchy and he might also be molting. Please encourage your bird to bathe. Include greens in the water or change utensils.
Question: Do you use soap in the bathwater for your lovebird?
Answer: No, I just let them bath with lukewarm water.
Question: I tried letting my lovebird bathe in warm water in the sink and in a bowl, but it didn't like it. I'm not sure what to do. Could you please help?
Answer: Sometimes bathing depends on the mood of the lovebird. You can try using normal tap water. Maybe your bird would prefer a cooler temperature.
Question: Which sex is the tamest of lovebirds?
Answer: Males are chirpy and attention seekers. Females are on the quieter side. Hand-Raised birds are easier to tame than wild ones (but they can be tamed as well).
Question: Can I bathe my 1 month old bird?
Answer: No, please wait until the bird is 3 months old.
Question: Is it ok to use soap to bathe lovebirds?
Answer: No, please don't. Stick to water.
© 2018 Sakina Nasir
Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on August 05, 2020:
@M.S.Sheriff Hi! I'm sorry to hear this. It might be in the genetics like Anto here says. Please feed them a nutritious diet like corn kernels, apple bits, blanched spinach leaves and some slices of banana. Make sure the fruits have no seeds in them. Please add 1-2 drops of multivitamins for lovebirds in their water and let them drink from it. Hope this helps.
Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on August 05, 2020:
Hi Mike! :)
It's okay to give your baby lovebird a bath after they turn 1.5 months old.
Anto on July 28, 2020:
@sherif it may be because of genetic issues. It happens if the generation is from the children of same father and mother birds. try to bring few birds from outside of this generation for next breeding. So that the next generation should not affect this problem.
mike on July 08, 2020:
how old should i start bathing my love bird
M. S. Sheriff on January 27, 2020:
I have 7 finches and 18 lovebirds in a fairly big cage at home. One bird has lost its feathers on the neck and chrst. Skin is visible. 4 chicks did not have feathers when thet came out of the nest. Their growth is very slow and feathers are less on their body. What shiukf i feed them . Send a remedy
Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on July 09, 2019:
@Mark Hi. :) Yes, you can give your lovebird a bath. Please keep a bowl of lukewarn water in front of him/her and play with the water with your fingers. If the bird is interested, he/she will take a bath.
mark on July 09, 2019:
should i gave 5 weeks old lovebird a bath?
Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on February 26, 2019:
@Kokila Let her bath in a shallow bowl. Buy some bird shampoo and try to wash her feathers. Be very gentle.
Kokila on February 26, 2019:
I accidentally poured oil while applying it on the wound of my love bird..... How should I bath her??
Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on December 26, 2018:
@Rubina Hi! I'm good alhamdolillah, how are you? That's great! :)
Rubina ! on December 26, 2018:
Hi Sakina ! How are you sweeti ! Recently i bay 2 lovebird ! I want ti know about lovebirds everything’s!
Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on November 22, 2018:
@Wanda Potts Hi! :) No worries! My lovebirds love their small cage. I have tried to get them to accept a bigger one, but they don't feel comfortable there. What are your lovebirds' names?
Wanda Potts on November 22, 2018:
I don’t want to sound like I’m telling what to do but your cage is awfully small for 2 active love birds. Hope you can get a larger one for them soon. Enjoy your advice and pictures. My birds are the same color as yours.
Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on June 08, 2018:
@Natalie Frank Hi! :) Thank you so much. Lovebirds love bathing (at least Lulu does haha) in summer. It's always fun to watch them do so.
Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on June 06, 2018:
I just read this one again. The photos and videos of your birds add so much to the article. Your birds are adorable. I had no idea you had to bathe them daily in the summer time! That's quite a routine.
Balachander , chennai , india on April 14, 2018:
Thank u for the response . Will send the photo thru e mail. Actually I don’t know the type of breed. Today being Tamil new year , shop is closed . Will speak to the pet shop guy and will try to understand the breed .
Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on April 14, 2018:
@Balachander Thank you so much. Lovebirds have playful personalities. They are fun to raise and pet. What type of lovebirds do you have?
Balachander on April 14, 2018:
Hi ,,,it’s so nice . I did not even No anything but I went and bought two pairs and spending time with them . Reading all your articles and trying to follow . Though you may be young god blessed you a passion to go behind this sweet creatures . Keep doing !!!!
Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on March 16, 2018:
@Natalie Frank Hi! :) Thank you so much for the warm words. Lovebirds have unique personalities and it's fun to watch them.
Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on February 13, 2018:
I love your series on Lovebirds! Especially this time of year. Your suggestions are so practical and caring.
Bathing Tips for Lovebirds - pets
Back to Index
Ingredients to the Loving Love Bird:
1 Hand Raised Love bird -- Preferably between 8 and 12 weeks. Sex or color do not make little difference.
1 Cage -- Metal, 1/2 inch spaced bars, no smaller than 11"x15"x15" but not too large. Powder coated cages are easy to clean. One bird per cage.
1 Playpen--I like the ones built on top the cage.
Food and Water--2 cups for food, 1 cup for water, 1 bowl for bath water.
Toys--Safe, non-toxic, clean, hanging and swing toys.
Perches--natural wood are best
Mineral block--beak conditioner
Things to Know About the New Baby
Baby love birds are ready to go to their new homes when they are six to ten weeks old and eating on their own. When you acquire your baby it will look much like a adult love bird, just a little smaller with softer colors. The color of the face will not appear until he goes throught his first molt at 3 or 4 months of age.
Your baby is a very young bird and needs special care and attention for a while. Baby love birds are not mean--rather they may be frightened. They use aggression as their defense. No handfed baby leaves me unless he is completely tame--this does not mean he is trained. We handle every baby individually four or five times a day. Each baby is cuddled, kissed, scratched, petted, and turned upside down. Every one sits on our shoulders and fingers everyday until he goes to his new home.
It is your responsibility to handle him everyday for at least 15 minutes until the baby is six months old. The more you handle him, the more he will want to be with you. Left alone in a cage even for a few days can cancel out all the work up to this point. After the bird is six months old he should remain tame without daily attention.
I will refer to all the birds as male because it is tedious to insert "he/she" into a script. There appears to be no difference between the males and females in their ability to be good pets. Females can be more aggressive but this is not a rule.
In the wild, the love birds "pair bond" for life. They will spend many years with one mate and only obtain a new mate if one of the birds dies. This is an disadvantage to breeders and pet owners. A breeder would like to switch pairs to produce the best color combinations. A lost mate is not easily replaced. For the pet owner the disadvantage is greater. Like Amazons and many other birds that mate for life, the love bird may pick out one person in the household and only be nice to that one person. It takes special attention from different members of the family to condition a love bird to be loving to everyone.
Love birds can enjoy being a pet for the whole family. He will go person to person seeking attention from everyone if he gets continuous socialization. After a few minutes the well raised love bird will usually accept new friends. Depending on the bird's personality there will be an occasional person the bird may not care for.
Two love birds together in a cage will bond with each other regardless of their sex. If you want your pet to be a buddy, keep him by himself and give him lots of attention.
Put your cage in a place where you can enjoy your new baby. He should not be in direct sun. The bird will over heat. Love birds are very hardy and tolerant of drafts (California weather) but extreme temperature changes are not good.
I keep a large towel or sheet of plexiglass under the cage. The towel collects anything that the bird throws out. Shake it out and throw it in the laundry. You may prefer to have newspaper or washable flooring under your cage. My cages are free standing. Put your cage where it is stable if it sits on a table or stand. If you have cats or dogs, be sure the cage is sturdy enough to thwart any attempts to break in.
My pets love to be out of their cages but still have access to go back in anytime. A cage with a playpen on top is ideal. They climb in and out (in and out of security). Occasionally baby will flutter down to the ground for various reasons (trying out its wings, spooked or likes to play on the ground). This is a very dangerous place to be.
A few of the hazards include:
getting stepped or sat upon,
We all like to think that our baby is 100% supervised while out of his cage. Let us be realistic. For the safety of the baby, offer him a way to return to his cage. I have a one inch rope tied from the perch on top of his cage to the ground. It winds around the outside of the cage and he uses it as a toy. It is also tied securely about six inches from the ground to prevent my playful puppy from inadvertently pulling the cage over.
When you receive your new baby he can flutter, climb, and perch. For your baby to have healthy feet and legs use natural wood perches. The uneven texture, diameter and contours help to exercise the bird's toes, feet and legs. The diameter of the perches should vary from 3/8 to 1 inch. I recommend eucalyptus or manzanita.
Cut fresh or dried branches to the desired size. Wash and bake them in the oven to kill any parasite or bacteria harmful to your birds. I use fresh eucalyptus for my personal pets and leave the stems and leaves on. I wash them well but I do not bake them. While I realize that I am taking a risk, my birds love to trim off the leaves and then shred the bark.
Place the perches so droppings will not fall on other perches, water, food or bath dishes. Because the baby cannot fly in the confines of the cage it is important that the perches be placed so that the bird can climb from perch to perch and over to water and food dishes. Watch to see if the baby can get everywhere he wants inside the cage, if not move the perch or supply a ladder.
Your new baby was weaned from hand feeding formula. He eats seeds, fruits, vegetables, and pellets. This is a well-balanced diet. Here is the recipe for the dry mix I feed my birds:
1 Part Large Hookbill Mix
3 Parts Small Hookbill Mix
1 Part pellets (any brand)
Offer fresh fruits and vegetables everyday. Corn is especially important in their diet. Your baby can eat almost anything you can EXCEPT CHOCOLATE, ALCOHOL, AVOCADO, CONCENTRATED SALT OR SUGAR. Feel free to offer him food from the table--but don't leave anything in his cage that can go sour, spoil, breed mold or bacteria. These could make him ill and possibly be life threatening. Bacteria and fungus are far more dangerous to birds than it is to people. Buy dried fruits and vegetables at bird specialty stores if you are concerned about leaving fresh foods in the cage during the day.
Favorite Fresh Food Include:
Apples - Oranges - Grapes - Mangos
Persimmon - Broccoli - Peas - Pasta
Corn - Beans - Plums
Always leave fresh water for your love bird. It only takes a second to change water.
Birds nibble on everything. Keep perches and dishes scrubbed clean. Be sure to rinse very well after using detergent or disinfectant. Never use Lysol, etc. It is difficult to get all the residue washed off. Bicarbonate of soda (20 Mule Borax) is an excellent occasional cleanser for bird dishes.
If you haven't purchased your water and feeding bowls yet, buy ceramic or the very hard composite dishes. Love birds love to chew!
Wings : Your baby's first flight feathers will already be clipped if requested. I do not clip wings until after the baby has his first flight and requested by the new home. The baby will know how to glide and maneuver in the air. Also, the feathers must have grown in enough that they will not bleed (blood feathers). These flight feathers will still continue to grow until the baby is three or four months old. Clip them again in about three to four weeks. Every time your bird molts he will need to have the flight feathers clipped. A pet love bird (not a showbird) should not have free flight.
Reasons for Wing Clipping:
The freedom of flight tends to negate the baby's dependence on you. This results in a less tame bird.
Love birds can't see windows. They fly at very high speeds and can kill themselves flying into the window.
A door or window left ajar for a moment allows the bird to escape.
The birds can fly to areas of the home that are dangerous. Who knows where all dangers lurk?
Even if all the flight feathers on a love bird are clipped he can still glide (my birds glide down to the first floor). When they are frightened, they can flutter upward. Don't depend upon any bird's wings even with full flight as defense against a cat, dog or rat. I have heard stories of pet birds being killed by other pets when allowed full flight. Keep your baby protected from other animals.
Do not take your bird outside on your shoulder!
Nails: Your baby's nails will be very sharp. They will leave little scratch marks on you and snags on your clothing. Do not clip the nails on a bird this young. Very carefully file them with the fine side of an emery board. You need only to dull the nails slightly. The vein is still very close to the tip. When he is six months old you can begin to clip the nails--very carefully. You may decide to file them instead of clip. My birds are so active that I have never felt it necessary to clip or file their nails.
If possible, do not expose your baby to other birds outside your home. He is still very young and susceptible to picking up bacteria, viruses, or parasites. If you are local, I will be happy to assist you in learning to clip wings or file nails.
Birds can bleed to death very easily. Take your baby to the vet at once if it breaks a feather and you cannot stop the bleeding. A broken blood feather needs to be removed. This assures that no infection will set in.
Bathing : It is not necessary to wash your baby. Give him a bowl of fresh water each day and he will bath himself. If he is not bathing, turn on the vacuum cleaner. The noise of the vacuum stimulates most birds to hop into their bath water. My love birds cannot resist hopping onto my hand when the faucet is running and diving in and out of the running water.
Molting: Your bird will molt once a year. Babies will molt twice their first year. With proper diet, light and exercise your bird should look in good condition even during the molt. You will notice an abundance of soft feathers around the cage. This usually occurs in the summer. Continue to feed him well and he will look as good as new in about four weeks. His flight feathers will change at this time. Be sure to have his wings clipped!
If your bird looses feathers continuously during the year, have him checked by an avian vet. This is not a common occurrence for love birds.
Behavior and Discipline
Your new bird may be frightened of you or of his new cage. The new smells, food, lights and sounds can confuse and distress him. Give him a day or two to adjust to his surroundings. Don't put any toys in the cage for the first few days. New toys can make the baby frightened and aggressive. Add one toy at a time later. Too many toys will confuse and frighten him.
The beak is a third hand to any parrot. He will use his beak to climb, grab and reach. When he steps onto your hand or arm he will use his beak first to steady himself. Do not be alarmed. He is not biting. Imagine climbing over steep, uneven terrain without holding on to anything.
Love birds recognize color. Beware, they may be terrified of RED, especially as a baby. Do not try to handle them while wearing red nail polish. The bird's eyes will flash and he will lunge and bite at your nails. Don't hang red toys in or near the cage. Avoid wearing red when handling your baby. As your bird matures he should slowly learn to tolerate red. By a year old my own pets no longer reacted to the color red.
Somewhere between the ages of five and six months your bird might go through a "creepy" stage. I think of it as their adolescent time. He may be nippy, demanding, and messy. With consistent training, his behavior will pass quickly.
Your bird is intelligent--as intelligent and bright as a two-year-old--forever and ever. His understanding will most likely never exceed a two-year-old (each bird is an individual, yours may or may not be brighter). Like a two-year-old, he will test you and his boundaries constantly. Firm rules and consistency are all important in training and disciplining your baby.
Never, never hit your bird in any way--not so much as a tap on the beak. This can hurt or even kill your pet. (One man insisted on flicking his finger against the bird's beak to discipline him. He eventually broke the bird's neck.) Do not wave your finger at the bird. Waving can entice the bird to strike at your fingers. If your bird nips your ear too hard, tell him firmly "no!". If nipping persists, pick up the baby with both hands--don't play chase--and return him to the inside of its cage. Then ignore him completely for a time. This passive correction is the most effective way to discipline negative behavior. Enforce positive behavior with various rewards: edibles, toys, verbal praise.
Hands and fingers: Some babies do not associate a finger or a hand as part of a person. At first they want to taste a finger. Sometimes they are fearful of a finger. Teach your baby to step up on your hand first. Later you can teach him to step on fingers. I have tried to teach each baby this before they leave me.
Keep your hand closed and flat. Gently press your hand against the bird's breast. Say "up." The pressure of your hand encourages the bird to step up.
Shoulders: Your baby already likes to sit on shoulders. He is curious and has not been fully trained not to nibble on ears. He also does not know how hard he is nibbling. You must teach him what is acceptable.
Usually the baby will behave excellently on your shoulder for a while and then for no apparent reason become very bad. He is tired and wants to be returned to the security and comfort of his cage. Try to learn his tolerance and return him to his cage before he is tired. Remember he is a baby. If you only return him to his cage when he is demonstrating negative behavior, you may be reinforcing that behavior. Look for a positive type behavior associated with his desire to go to his cage and reinforce this with praising the bird and returning him to his cage with a treat.
Chase: Chase is a great game that the birds catch onto at once. It is most undesirable to develop this habit when you want to put your new buddy away. What happens is this: baby knows you want to remove him from your shoulder--probably to be place on his perch or in his cage. Baby really prefers to be on your shoulder. You place your hand next to the bird and he runs to the other side of you. You follow with your hand. The bird lunges and nips and you pull away frustrated. He won! What Fun! Never let this happen.
System 1 : The easiest way to avoid developing this game is to have a second person present. Coordinate together. It is important that the person who has the bird on their shoulder be the one to say "up" and place their hand (not just a finger) at the bird's chest. The second person will use their hands cupped around the baby to keep him from retreating. The baby will not really "bite" he just threatens. Be firm and he will step up. He has no choice. Praise and pet him, give him a kiss and put him on his perch or cage. Practice this. After a few times, over a few days, he will remember.
System 2: When no one is around to help with training, use an obstacle. Stand next to a wall so that the bird cannot run to the other side of your shoulder. Sweep your hand from your opposite shoulder towards the bird. He has nowhere to go but onto your hand. You will need a little practice with this method.
Lunging or snapping: Never move away from your baby when he lunges at you or threatens you. This only reinforces the negative trait. You will find that if you do not back away, the bird may but will learn that it cannot intimidate you, he will cease nipping. I cannot emphasize this enough.
The cage is his territory. Even the tamest babies do not like their security invaded. I teach that it is OK for my hand to come into his cage. It is important from day one to make him comfortable with your hand in his cage. Offer him goodies from your hand in the cage.
Never pull away if he lunges, strikes, or nips. Remove your hand if he nudges it with his beak. This teaches and reinforces a positive way of communicating. I have even trained older love birds to accept my hand in their cage and to step up on command. You can't give an inch or they will take a mile--just like a two-year-old!
Love birds are chatty little birds. It is debatable whether they can talk or not. They are not known for their talking. They can mimic whistles. Mine have picked up the singing of a canary.
Here's my trick: Birds imitate what they hear. I play pleasant music for the bird during the day. Love birds will develop a soft voice by trying to imitate the music. If your bird does not hear anything all day long, you can expect him to develop a wild voice.
Talk to your bird when you are with him. Repeat words that you would like him to learn. Whistle short tunes for him to repeat. He is likely to repeat kissing sounds first. Be patient. Do not be disappointed if your love bird does not whistle or talk. Enjoy him for the bird he is.
Your baby has begun to develop the personality that will carry through his long life. He should be gentle and quiet. Now you can leave him with a house sitter, go on vacation, and know he will be tame and loving when you return. But you will miss him.
In the morning and late afternoon you can expect him to sing and chatter.
Your buddy is content in his cage all day while you're away. He enjoys the time you have to give him but will not demand it. During the day he plays with his toys and tears up any wood you leave him.
All is not lost if you neglected him in his first six months. Give him more time and be patient. It would have been better for both of you if you spent the time with him in the first six months!
Safety Tips To Remember
Keeping Wings Clipped
Don't Take Outside on Your Shoulder
Keep Away From Other Pets While Unsupervised
Supervise With Small Children
Keep Food and Water Clean
Keep Out of Hot Sun
Use Safe Toys
Lead is Deadly, Burning Teflon Will Kill
Chocolate could be his last food
Do not use walnut shells in the cage!
The fumes from burning Teflon and other non-stick surfaces will kill any bird very quickly. You may choose not to keep Teflon in the house.
Since birds like to chew, lead poisoning is common. Be sure to know what your bird is chewing on or eating. While just playing on a Tiffany or Stained Glass a bird can ingest enough lead to kill him. Rush him to the vet if you suspect lead poisoning. There is hope.
A tame love bird will not hurt a child. A child can easily inflict mortal damage to a curious bird. Supervision is important.
Bird Talk has wonderful reports on safe toys. Bird specialty stores have a myriad of toys at reasonable prices. Know what you are putting in his cage.
15 Tips For Bathing Your Cat
Cats are well known for their impeccable grooming habits, but every once in a while they need a little help, especially if your cat sometimes goes outdoors, has long hair, is elderly, or has special needs. As much as cats are known for their grooming habits, they’re equally well known for their hatred of getting wet. Taking the time to prepare and to learn some tricks in advance can go a long way in helping to minimize your cat’s anxiety, ward off a retaliatory attack, and make the experience as pleasant as possible for both of you.
1. Consider other options Before giving your cat a bath, be sure she really needs one. Since cats are self-cleaning, most cats won’t need to be bathed regularly. There’s no need to go through the effort of the bath and stress your cat out over something that’s not necessary. If your cat needs a little help but isn’t filthy, consider methods that are less drastic, like pet-friendly wet wipes or spot cleaning with a wet washcloth.
2. Choose the right time
You can take a lot of stress away from bath time simply by choosing a time when your cat is naturally more relaxed. You can also “trick” your cat into being more relaxed by wearing her out with an exceptionally active play session before you need to bathe her.
3. Consider a calming supplement Calming supplements like Bach’s Pet Rescue Remedy were invented for times just like this. Always choose supplements that have been designed specifically for cats, since human versions can contain ingredients that may be toxic to your cat.
4. Prepare your cat’s claws
Even a sweet-tempered cat can claw and scratch when she feels threatened by a sink full of water. Bath time will be safer for both of you if you clip your kitty’s claws beforehand. If you don’t think you can snip them safely, try nail caps like Soft Paws.
5. Gather supplies Trust me, the last thing you need is to realize you’ve forgotten the shampoo or towel after you’ve set the bath game in motion. Gather everything you need in advance– including pet shampoo, a washcloth, large towel, a comb, and a non-breakable vessel (like a plastic pitcher or cup) for wetting your cat.
6. Brush your cat
Always brush your cat before bathing her. A bath will be most effective if you’ve pre-removed loose hair and debris.
7. Remain calm Cats look to their humans for clues about whether they need to be anxious about any given situation. If she can see that you’re stressed or anxious, she’ll feel that way too. Do everything you can to prepare for the bath, have a game plan, and stay cool and collected throughout the process.
8. Use a safe water vessel
If you have a water sprayer attached to your sink, that’s a great way to get your cat wet and rinse out shampoo. If you don’t have one, or if you’ll be washing your cat in a place that’s not your kitchen sink, you’ll need to use a pitcher or cup to pour water on your cat. Choose a plastic one that won’t break if it gets knocked out of your hand by a struggling cat.
9. Use warm water Paying attention to the temperature of the bath water isn’t just a matter of comfort for your cat– it’s also a matter of safety. Use water that’s lukewarm to keep your cat comfortable and safe.
10. Use a pet-friendly shampoo
Human shampoos can dry out your cat’s skin and many are made with ingredients that can be toxic to cats. Pet-safe shampoos will be specifically designed to keep your cat’s skin and coat healthy and moisturized.
11. Lather up and rinse well Lather your cat up from head to tail, gently massaging your cat to work it through her coat. Your cat will be the most comfortable if you work the shampoo in the same direction her hair grows in. Be careful to keep shampoo and water away from her face, eyes, and ears. NEVER dunk your cat’s head or face under water. Use clean water to rinse all of the shampoo from her coat, since residue can dry her skin and coat out.
12. Be gentle with the face
Don’t lather your cat’s face with shampoo, even if her face is dirty. Instead, gently rub her face with a washcloth that’s damp with clean water.
13. Dry safely Wrap your cat in a large, soft towel after the bath to soak up excess water. Keep her away from drafty areas while she’s wet. If your cat won’t mind the noise, you can use a blow dryer set on the lowest setting.
14. Comb long hair
Long haired cats have a tendency to get knots in their coats after baths. If this is the case for your kitty, she may need a post-bath combing.
Giving your cat some treats after a bath can help convince her that the bath wasn’t so bad after all. At the very least, receiving something delicious may convince her that the bath was worth the hassle. You’ll be in a better position next time if your cat learns to associate the bath with something delicious and pleasurable at the end.
How to Bathe a Dog the Right Way, According to a Veterinarian
Whether you're doing it in your home or the yard, here's what you need to make bath time fun (or at least tolerable) for your pup.
Giving your dog regular baths is an essential part of ongoing grooming and good hygiene. Of course, baths help remove visible dirt your dog earned through happy walks and romps through natural environments. But in addition to keeping your dog’s coat clean, bathing also helps keep it healthy and free from parasites. While bathing is important for all dogs, not all require bathing at the same frequency — with factors like their breed, fur, and environment all affecting the appropriate interval between baths. Once you determine how many scrub downs your pet needs, make those baths as pleasant and stress free as possible using these expert tips for how to bathe a dog, backed by a veterinarian.