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A stray kitten's first bath

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Pouncer is my first cat ever, a stray kitten i found meowing in my neighbor's bushes three nights ago. after a vet visit i was informed that she was too young (15 ounces; approx. 5 weeks at most) to have something like advantix for flea control. the vet said simply that i should give her a bath with regular shampoo, and to have her wrapped up in a towel sprayed with kitten-safe flea spray, and then comb out the remaining dead/live fleas.

she doesn't like water, oh boy, she just hates it. but she was such a good little kitten- with a lot of coaxing, she even willingly bent her head back so we (my mom and i) could scrub her neck, where a lot of the fleas were. ugh- i've never bathed an animal with fleas before, and the sight of all those ugly little insects clinging to her fur gave me goosebumps. after that, she got rubbed until almost dry, and basically "baked" for about 10 minutes, wrapped in a towel that was sprayed with the flea spray. in the very end i went over her with a fine-tooth comb.

it's the first time i've ever bathed a kitten, so... i guess i didn't do too good of a job. the majority of the fleas are gone- her fur is much softer to the touch now, and she's not scratching nearly half as much as she did when i first got her. but she's STILL scratching nonetheless, and feeling/peeking around her fur, i can still feel a stray flea here and there. I've combed and combed, but haven't been able to pull out any more fleas. It's just when i'm rubbing/petting her that I can feel one now and then and maybe manage to pull it out and drown it.

my question is: is it possible to make her completely flea-free just with a bath? (another flea spray question later) or should i buy some special flea/tick bath shampoo? (the vet told me regular people shampoo works just fine). see, i'm going back to my college apartment on sunday, and i'll start my home-only-on-weekends routine again. i would like to be able to have Pouncer explore the house and make it her domain without us having to worry about whether she's going to cause a flea infestation, and really, trapping a kitten in a laundry room 24/7, no matter with how many toys, is bound to make her feel bored and closed-in eventually.

also, i plan on giving her another bath tomorrow and would really just kill for some advice on how to keep her calm while i bathe her. she just goes absolutely nuts when she sees water. is there any way, as well, that i could get her to stop twisting and turning when she's on her back and i'm combing the insides of her back legs for fleas? (their favorite hiding area, it seems)

last question: the "kitten-safe" spray i bought turned out to be not so "kitten-safe". the bottle did say "for dogs, cats, puppies and kittens" and the instructions said to do the towel spray-and-wrap thing for kittens under 3 pounds (Pouncer is 15 ounces). What I didn't read until later, after i'd finished with her bath, was- "do not use on kittens under 12 weeks of age."

she isn't feeling any ill effects, it seems. still playful, maybe a bit less at the moment because it's nearing her bedtime. i was careful to not let her lick her herself anywhere during the time and for a while after she was wrapped in the towel. should i just discontinue using the spray until she DOES hit 12 weeks?

oh, and an observation i made when we were washing her: the dirty water coming off of her was a reddish brown. i panicked at first, thinking she was hurt and was bleeding somehow, but she wasn't. i'm thinking that when she was born her mama never got to wash everything off of her fur, including some blood, and she definitely has not been washed since. could that be?

thank you very much for taking the time to read this, and any advice i get. sorry it was so long. :P
post #2 of 10
The reddish brown rinsing off your kitten during the bath was dried blood from flea bites. Between the bath, the spray, and the combing, you've probably taken care of most of the live fleas. The insecticides in flea sprays carry the risk of compromising the health of young kittens, so I'd recommend holding off on it unless she gets another heavy infestation. Bathing once a week in Dawn dishwashing liquid is OK, but the safest thing is to use a flea comb every day on her.

When she's old enough, get her treated with Frontline or Advantage at the vets - this will take care of any flea eggs as well. Meanwhile, do keep her confined to an area that you can clean and disinfect regularly. She may get restless in the laundry room, but you should be able to let her out in about a week. Fleas are dangerous not only b/c they weaken kittens by feeding on their blood, but flea bites also transmit disease and parasites such as worms.
post #3 of 10

Sounds like she is doing good! Keep up with the flea comb!
post #4 of 10
I would be very careful using OTC flea spray. I have a neighbor who adopted a kitten as you did (before I knew them) and used a flea spray bought at a store. It caused seizure/tics for a few days after. No long term effects, but I would still be careful! On another note, did you use a regular comb, or a flea comb? (The flea comb is pretty small, and the prong things are VERY close together to trap the fleas). I had to use a flea comb on my kitten when I got her, b/c I couldn't bathe her since she has spaying stitches. Worked really well! If you don't have one, you can get one at probably any pet store or WalMart for under 5 dollars! Good luck!
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
thanks for the replies.

no, it's not a flea comb, it's just a flat comb with the prongs extremely close together. it seems to work okay.

i will not use the spray until she gets older.

i'm having trouble making her stay still when i'm combing her, though. she likes to play with my hand (pounce, scratch and gently bite) while i'm going over her, so it's hard to reach the spots where the fleas like to hide (the insides of her legs, her neck and hips). how can i make her stay still long enough for me to thoroughly comb those places?
post #6 of 10
Originally Posted by nakoruru
how can i make her stay still long enough for me to thoroughly comb those places?
Age old question that has no answers. Best I can suggest is play with her a good bit - get her tired and hopefully she won't move as much when you comb her!
post #7 of 10
I suggest keep going with the comb, and maybe a repeat bath in a week to get rid of any others. It is hard to keep a cat still during a bath, but with two people if you make it quick it shouldn't be too traumatic. Sometimes you just have to do it and hope the cat realises its for its own good - I'm sure she'll understand when those nasty blighters stop biting her!
post #8 of 10
Please visit http://www.kitten-rescue.com/parasites.html to find out a good way to eliminate fleas in tiny kittens.
post #9 of 10
The first time I gave my cat a bath after she was a stray she literally collapsed when she touched the water she was so scared, she was held up dont worry! Now she is used to it and pretty calm.
post #10 of 10
I do not bath my cat very often - she is Siamese with short hair and is immaculate about grooming. I am caring for a friend's Sphynx kitties tho and they need baths often but are used to it. I would recommend Dawn dishwashing liquid or one rec'd by your vet. Regular shampoo can have additives that are adverse to a cat or can dry her fur. I have found the best way to is to place a mat in the sink - and make it a small sink with something kitty can grab onto so she does not feel too insecure. Soap her and then bathe her and wash the soap off. Be careful around her face and do not get any in her eyes or ears! (Water in her ears can affact balance - tho that is also true for us but less critical). Fill the basin with water BEFORE placing the cat in it - so the water from the faucet does not scare her. Dry her with a towel immediately after the bath in a WARM place and keep her warm. Some groomers recommend placing a cat in a carrier and blow drying the kitty (on low heat) but that sounds like torture to me!!! I have tried using the dryer on low while she is wrapped in the towel so that it does not directly affect her fur. Give her a fav treat after so she associates the bath with positive things. If the fleas are not all gone, you may have to bathe er again - and never use an OTC flea treatment. They can be dangerous, epscially in young kittens!!! Never deflea a very young kitten unless the flea situation is endangering her life! You should also wash every bit if bedding and clothing or places she has slept on to be absolutely certain the fleas are gone.
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