Dzenita asked: How do I clean an 8 week old kitten? I was told I can’t give him a bath. However, I can take a cloth and wet it with warm water and wipe him down. But…that doesn’t work all that well and he does a bad job cleaning himself. His butt stinks really bad and sometimes he gets poop stuck to his tail. PLEASE HELP!!
Kittens are much like human babies in that they depend on their mothers to clean and take care of them. They need to grow and learn before they can independently groom themselves properly. Normally, the mother cat cleans her kittens and teaches them the proper way to use a litter box, etc. Keeping your kitten extremely clean is important for its health and well-being.
- When kittens are startled, they will fear whatever startled them for a long time. For example, a kitten may not be afraid of the water, but if the sound of running water startled the kitten, it will associate being scared with water. Talk to your kitten constantly throughout the cleaning process to help it stay calm and feel safe.
- Move slowly when introducing your kitten to new things, such as water and bathing, so it has a chance to earn your trust.
- Soap or shampoo is not necessary at this age unless you are treating for fleas. If this is the case, consult with your veterinarian to find a soap that is safe for your kitten.
Cleaning Your Kitten
What You Will Need:
- Soft cloth
- Warm water
- Soft towels
- Kitten treats
- Lots of love and patience
The Washing Process:
- Moisten a soft cloth with warm water. Only use soap that is specially designed for kittens if your veterinarian recommends it – typically, plain water is enough for general cleaning.
- Hold your kitten close to you and gently wipe it down with the moist cloth. The amount of wetness will vary depending on how dirty the kitten is. Most of the time, you want the cloth to be good and wet, but not dripping.
- Start in a non-invasive area, such as the back and gently wipe as you stroke the fur. Follow the direction of the fur as you clean.
- Move onto the legs and lastly the stomach and face.
- Pay special attention to clean your kitten’s rear-end. This area is often cleaned by the mother cat as kittens are not able to clean it effectively themselves.
- As you are cleaning, talk to your kitten constantly to help keep it calm. If it gets anxious or scared, simply hold it close to you (it helps to cover yourself with a towel, or you’ll both be wet in the end) to offer comfort and reassurance. Cleaning is a great time to bond with your new kitten as you are taking the role of “mother” and helping it to stay clean.
- Once your kitten has been completely cleaned, wrap it gently in a soft towel. Try to keep it wrapped in the towel, and blot away the excess water from its fur (DO NOT RUB with the towel as this can be very irritating to kittens). Repeat several times with dry towels.
- Once you have blotted away the excess water, offer your kitten a treat and keep it in a draft-free place until it is completely dry and relaxed. Kittens are so small that they do not retain body heat very well. This is a great time to hold your kitten close and talk to it to calm it down and help him learn to trust you as you keep him warm until he is dry.
- If you’ve gotten any scratches in the process, clean them thoroughly with soap and water, treat them with an antiseptic and bandage them. Check any scratches or bites frequently for signs of infection.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Kittens only require full baths if they are especially dirty or have fleas.
- Spot-cleaning works well for kittens. Daily cleaning of their behinds will help keep your kitten happier, healthier and keep odors away.
- It may be helpful to have a friend help you as you clean your kitten. This will allow one of you to focus on cleaning while the other helps to keep the kitten calm.
- Grooming is another key factor in keeping your kitten clean. To introduce your kitten to the grooming brush/process, use two brushes. When you brush and it begins biting at the brush, simply place it in front of him so he can smell it and use the second brush to keep brushing. When he bites at that brush, lay it down so he can explore it and pick up the first brush to continue brushing. This gives the kitten a chance to see the brush while continually being groomed. It will eventually learn that brushing feels good and allow you to groom it freely.