Personally, i feel that we do stuff out of habits. Kitties are the same: when come to bathing, it is a matter of habit as well.
Just to share with you my personal experience:
When i first adopted Daisy, she had only taken ONE bath in all her 1-1/2 years. The initial few baths were torrid. However, she got used to it later.
There are areas that my Daisy can't clean for herself. i found a lot of stubborn black specks of dirt in between her paws, and around her nails when i first adopted her. i saw her pulled her nails with her teeth so severely, it really hurt me. She is clean and healthy now, and stopped pulling her nails with her teeth.
With Venus, it is much easier, as she is a kitten. i guess it is easier to inculcate good habits at a younger age.
Venus has longer hair, and has a tendency to have her hind areas soiled with undesirables. Just last night, i had to clean her in the middle of the night. i could tell she was very uncomfortable as she just stood at a spot, without moving. It was not long that i realized she was soiled.
Wiping is not suffice. So, i had to wash her soiled area with gentle warm water and a little shampoo. Then rinse, wipe and blow dry with gentle heat. i gave her several spoonfuls of baby food as treat. She slept immediately after. i think the trick to cleaning messes is to do it IMMEDIATELY after it happens without delay.
i bought a human baby tub for their bathing sessions (see pix below.) Wow, it makes bathing so much easier and managable!
This is what i posted on 12th of March, 2003:
What i do:
1. Brush her body to get rid of loose hair.
2. Clean the inside of her ears with moistened q-tips. Roll some cotton wool with your palm into a small ball that fits in her ear. (this way, she will not get water in her ear.)
3. Get ready her thick towel outside the bath tub/bath area.
4. Get ready a hair dryer and a brush for hair blowing (in another room?)
5. Bring her in the bath tub (please close the curtains/sliding door.) with you. (Be prepared to get wet sometimes)
6.Fill her basin with warm water, then use her towel to totally wet her entire body.
7.For outside kitties, the flea shampoo is available, i use the earthbath's natural pet shampoo -- the eucalyptus and peppermint shampoo smells really nice. Use a little shampoo at a time, with warm water, and lather gently.
8. Rinse VERY well with clean water, with the help of towel.
9. Squeeze gently all excess water from tail, body, etc.
10. Wrap with a hug and love with thick towel.
11. Bring them out of the bathroom to blow dry hair. By now, they should LOVE it!! Both my kitties stay very still, enjoying this session. i always pay attention to the heat level and move the hair dryer ALOT so that the heat concentration is not only at one area.
12. Remove cotton wool in ears.
13. Give a big treat! Sometimes, i play with them with interactive toys like a feather or slithering snake (their favorite)
i forgot to add that i dust them with Crabtree and Evelyn's jojoba natural talc (which is basically corn starch.) It smells really fresh and clean.
Oh yes, i am really big into giving them a big treat after a bath. i guess it renders as a positive reinforcement. i am a big fan of POSITIVE reinforcements. (i like Pavlov's theory of course.
Happy bathig, Kathy and Cheers!