Don’t listen to the Internet. It is notoriously full of bad advice, especially when it comes to cats and baths. Tire him out? Trim his nails? Lure him in to the lukewarm tub with his favorite toy? Oh yes, by all means talk to him in a soothing voice as you douse his head. Better just stuff him in the toilet, slam the lid, and flush. You’ll be done faster, and your bathroom will look the same when you’re finished.
For your normal, everyday house cat, here’s all you need to know about the dreaded bath:
1. Don’t do it. Cats, like most ovens, are self-cleaning.
Spy cats are a different matter. The job requirements of a feline secret agent take us places no tongue should venture. Garbage cans. Other cats’ litter boxes. Factory farms. The disgust issue aside, spy cats may encounter toxic, deadly substances. Once I almost took down a bioterrorism ring—or at least I think that’s why that belladonna plant was being cultivated in the neighbor’s garden (they don’t call it deadly nightshade for nothing).
Sometimes, only soap and water will suffice. In that instance, refer to this handy step-by-step manual.
How to Bathe your Spy Cat:
1. Remove all leather tool belts, spy cameras, and external electronic devices. These hate getting wet almost as much as cats do.
2. Any implanted electronic devices (listening electrodes, GPS trackers) may stay, provided the wound is well-healed, ideally at least 72 hours post surgery with no signs of drainage or infection.
3. If your spy cat’s fur has come into contact with toxic substances, instruct him not to lick. This is important. Even if your cat knows a bath is forthcoming, the urge to groom is often overwhelming. Sometimes brushing stray furs into place so he feels clean, at least while the tub is filling with lukewarm water, can help.
4. Speaking of tubs, have you checked with Animal Poison Control to make sure the suspected toxin is water soluble? Call (888) 426-4435. The $65 consultation fee will be reimbursed by your CIA handler.
5. All clear for soap and water? Just…make it quick.
6. A word about hair dryers: Don’t go there. We are formidable, not fluffy.
7. Someone once posted that putting a towel over a pet’s head and seeing how long it took the pet to shake it off was a test of intelligence. This is not funny. When your spy cat just sits there with the towel on his head, I assure you he is very intelligently plotting your demise.
8. Clean up. It’s your bathroom, human.