Most cats have a dislike to water, and as a rule, and under ordinary conditions, generally keep themselves clean, more especially the short-haired breeds; but, as is well known, the Angora, Persian, and Russian, if not taken care of, are sure to require washing, the more so to prepare them for exhibition, as there is much gain in the condition in which a cat comes before the judge.
There are many cases of cats taking to the water and swimming to certain points to catch fish, or for other food, on record; yet it is seldom that they take a pleasure in playing about in it. I therefore think it well to mention that I had a half-bred black and white Russian, that would frequently jump into the bath while it was being filled, and sit there until the water rose too high for its safety. Thus cats may be taught to like washing.
If a cat is to be washed, treat it as kindly and gently as is possible, speaking in a soothing tone, and in no way be hasty or sudden in your movements, so as to raise distrust or fear. Let the water be warm but not hot, put the cat in slowly, and when its feet rest on the bottom of the tub, you may commence the washing.
Mr. A. A. Clarke, the well-known cat fancier, says: "I seldom wash my cats, I rather prefer giving them a good clean straw-bed, and attending to their general health and condition, and they will then very seldom require washing. I find that much washing makes the coat harsh and poor, and I also know from experience that it is 'a work of art' to wash a cat properly, and requires an artist in that way to do it. My plan is to prepare some liquid soap, by cutting a piece into shreds, and putting it into cold water, and then boiling it for an hour. I then have two clean tubs got ready, one to wash, the other to rinse in. Have soft water about blood heat, with a very small piece of soda in the washing-tub, into which I place the cat, hind-quarters first, having some one that it knows perfectly well, to hold and talk to the cat while the washing is going on. I begin with the tail, and thoroughly rubbing in the soap with my hands, and getting by degrees over the body and shoulders up to the ears, leaving the head until the cat is rinsed in the other tub, which ought to be half filled with warm soft water, into which I place the cat, and thoroughly rinse out all the soap, when at the same time I wash the head, and I then sit in front of the fire and dry with warm towels; and if it is done well and thoroughly, it is a good three hours' hard work."
I would add to the foregoing that I should use Naldire's dog soap, which I have found excellent in all ways, and it also destroys any insect life that may be present.
Also in washing, be careful not to move the hands in circles, or the hair will become entangled and knotty, and very difficult to untwist or unravel. Take the hair in the hands, and press the softened soap through and through the interstices, and when rinsing do the same with the water, using a large sponge for the purpose. After drying I should put the cat in a box lightly, full of oat straw, and place it in front of, or near a fire, at such distance as not to become too warm, and only near enough to prevent a chill before the cat is thoroughly dry.