Most cats have a strong aversion to water and the idea of giving your cat a bath may be laughable and quite out of the question. In this case, you may find a bran bath to be a better option. A bran bath is the feline equivalent of the dry shampoo and is good for the efficient removal of excess grease and dirt from the coat. Most owners report that their cats seem to enjoy the experience — but perhaps they just like the special attention.
If a cat enjoys being made a fuss of — and let’s face it, what cat doesn’t? — it will probably enjoy having a bran bath. After the bath, a good brushing will bring the coat up to a lustrous shine.
Bran baths are commonly given to cats as a more acceptable alternative to wetting the cat’s fur, and are good for removing any excess grease and dirt from the coat. The bran is derived from grain husks and is easily available from pet shops.
You need to work on a surface protected by an old cloth or newspaper, and preferably in a room with a hard floor surface rather than a carpet, as the bran has a habit of scattering and clinging to other fibres.
GIVING A BRAN BATH
The first thing that you have to do is to warm the bran slightly beforehand in the oven. Then rub it thoroughly into the cat’s fur, using your fingers. It can come as no surprise to learn that this can be an extremely messy business, so it is advisable to do it outside, and preferably on sheets of newspaper. Leave the bran for a while and then brush it out — using an upwards and away from the body action — along with any dirt and grease, and groom it in the usual way. Your cat’s fur should now be shining and clean.
There are some cats that produce an excess amount of grease from the sebaceous glands that are located around the base of the tail. This can cause a condition known as stud tail, which makes the fur in this area matted, greasy and unsightly, and can provoke infections. Serious cases of stud tail obviously require veterinary attention, but regular bran baths help to remove the greasy secretions and discourage problems from arising. This is the great advantage of bran baths.
You can buy natural bran from health food shops (it is used as a fibre supplement). Don’t use sawdust, which might have added chemicals that could irritate your cat’s skin. There are other dry shampoos that can be particularly effective, such as talcum powder and cornflour. Talcum powder is a popular choice for pale longhaired breeds of cat, while fuller’s earth can be used on cats with dark fur. Sprinkle the powder on to the coat and rub it in well. Then brush it out and finally, groom your cat in the usual way.
Stud tail is particularly common in uncastrated tomcats — hence the word ‘stud’ — though it also occurs in neutered toms and in females.
The fur on longhaired breeds will tend to tangle as a result of being rubbed during a bran bath, so it is important to comb it thoroughly afterwards to prevent knots and matting.
One disadvantage of any of the dry shampoos such as the bran bath is that all the brushing that you need to do to remove the bran or powder has the result of increasing static electricity in the coat, thus making it ‘fly away’ .