Training a Cat to Like Bathing

I recently acclimated a cat to routine bathing. Training cats to enjoy bathing is not common as cats are fastidious groomers, but skin conditions, fungal infections or human allergies are a few reasons why bathing may be necessary for some cats.
The cat in this video clip is my 9 month old cat Soba. After bringing him home from the rescue, we discovered that my partner is severely allergic to him. We decided if we could better manage the allergy symptoms and if Soba could be comfortable with those efforts, we would commit to keeping him.
The training highlights in this video clip show positive reinforcement, desensitization and counter conditioning at work. The task of bathing is broken down into little steps and I made sure Soba was comfortable with each step before advancing on to the next. For example, if Soba wasn’t comfortable with the sound of running water occurring while he was in the tub, I wouldn’t proceed to moving the water closer to his body or wetting his fur until we had reached that benchmark first.
My partner’s allergies are much better managed now and we feel bathing Soba routinely has helped quite a bit. Soba earns two churu treats every Sunday “Spa Day.” Soba has also been trained to enjoy other forms of brushing and grooming and we feed him an allergen-reducing diet. Many thanks to Purr Harmony Purebred Cat Rescue for giving us time to explore if Soba could be a good long term fit for our family and to my partner Adam for being patient and supportive while we tried this.

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