While the thought of giving a cat a bath is not for the faint-hearted, sometimes that very task must be done. If your cat has fleas, it may not be enough to only apply a topical flea killer, like Frontline, which goes between their shoulder blades. For particularly bad flea infestations, using a flea shampoo is necessary.
When giving your cat a bath, make sure that the tub is filled with two to three inches of warm water before you bring your cat into the bathroom. The sound of the running water, not to mention the pouring water itself, may spook your cat. This will cause your cat to defend itself and leave you with claw-sized gashes on your forearms. Once the bath water has been run, gently place your cat into the tub. It will undoubtedly panic, which is why this is a job for two people: one to hold the cat in the water, and another to rub the shampoo into its fur.
Giving a flea bath is definitely a two person job, especially if your cat is not used to be being bathed.
In order for the flea shampoo to be effective, it must be applied very well. Make sure to rub the shampoo all of the way into your cats fur, down to its skin, in order to kill any flea eggs or larvae that might have made a home there. After the shampoo is on, allow it to sit for a minute or two to give the chemicals in the shampoo extra time to work. Then, carefully begin to rinse your cat using cupfuls of warm water. Take caution not to get shampoo in your cat’s eyes, and be overly thorough when rinsing. Cats will lick themselves once you set them free after a bath, and you do not want your pet ingesting any lingering shampoo.
CC Image courtesy of mikael altemark on Flickr
Once your cat is fully rinsed, place him or her in the center of a large, dry towel and rub him vigorously to dry him off as much as possible. Your cat will probably enjoy this part, since it involves getting some extra attention. As soon as the excess water is toweled off, let you cat out of the bathroom. It is okay if he still looks a bit damp.
Flea shampoos are medicated, and will kill fleas in any stage. However, since the effectiveness wears off in the rinsing process, you still have to take other measures to ensure that the fleas living in your carpet and throughout your house do not simply jump onto cat immediately after its bath.
On top of this, make sure that the flea shampoo that you use is designed for cats. There are different types on the market, and the ones meant for only dogs will not work as well (if at all) on cats. A combination of a flea shampoo, when combined with other flea-killing measures, will be very effective in ridding your entire house of these pests.