Big strong cats who don’t like baths are hard, so I’ll talk about the easier ones first.
If your great big cat likes baths, then you just need to be careful about how you handle your cat so you don’t get into an awkward position. Awkward positions include leaning over the tub, trying to haul big sweet wet cat out of the tub without scraping his back or belly across the edge of the tub (if you have one of those tub/shower combos). When you’re drying that big sweet wet cat, sometimes the front of the cat decides to go away while you’re still holding onto the rear of the cat. Awkward. Be prepared to get wet.
Now for the great big strong cats who hate baths. Try to trim the claws first, so you won’t get scratched. The goal is for the cat to be clean and safe, and for you to end the day without blood pouring from open wounds. Easy peasy! Wear a bunch of clothes, so even if you’re bitten or scratched, it won’t go deep. Wear leather gloves because hand bites are the worst. Once the fangs get into your tendon area, infection can happen in a few hours, then comes the IV and the days off of work.
Get about three very large towels, so you can wrap your cat up before you trim the claws. Pull out the paw you’re working on and work your way around your cat until you trim all the claws.
So, you’ve succeeded in that. Now the way I like to do it is to fill the tub, unless your big cat can fit in your sink. I use a hand towel to wet the cat’s fur as much as possible, but the cat is still outside the tub. Then I dilute shampoo and use the hand towel to put it all over the cat. Now you’ve got a great big wet soapy cat. Great! This is the point of no return.
Hold your cat by the skin on the back of the shoulder blades — not the neck, the shoulder blades. There’s a lot of loose skin there. Get a solid grip on that skin, but don’t dig your nails in ladies! Use your other hand to pick up the rear with your hand under the belly. Hoist and plop, into the tub, with you hanging on for dear life. Do your best to wash and spread the soap, drain the tub, still holding on for dear life, then use the nozzle or faucet to rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse. YOU HAVE GOT TO RINSE. By now your cat is going bonkers, howling, screeching, trying to scratch and bite.
Hoist the cat out and plop him on the towels you have placed outside the tub. Wrap him up as fast as you can, so he can’t move much. If you can’t do that, then just towel him down as much as you can while he walks around the bathroom hissing at you. If you can, turn on a hair dryer at medium heat, not too hot. Point it at him from above. Comb him or brush him while you dry him. Since we’re talking about a big cat who hates baths, he’ll be swatting at you so I hope you had your espresso or Red Bull. You’ll need fast reflexes. He’ll be looking pretty silly, all wet and angry, so you can laugh at him now. He’ll give you an outraged look. The lion king is displeased! Dry him as much as you can with the dryer, then open the door and let him stalk about. Give him some food and lovey dovey words. He’ll curse you out and give you dirty looks.
Most cats get over it fast. They’re animals, not people, so they’re not good at holding grudges. The next day, comb him out more, if you can, because some cats mat up fast if they’re not completely dried after a bath.
If he’s cleaner than he was, and if he’s dry, and if you don’t have gashes in your arm, good job!!!!