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Tips for Bathing a Cat - How to Give a Cat a Bath

Updated on February 4, 2010

Give Cat a Bath

Cats are generally pretty clean, as they clean themselves as needed, but sometimes they just need a bath. Whether they've been outside, gotten into something while in the house, or it's just been a while since the cat's last real bath, sometimes, they just need to get in the tub or sink.

When bathing your cat, it can be a very stressful time, as cat's just aren't friends with water... Well, most cats hate water, that is... So, when it's time to bathe your cat for one reason or another, make sure that you do your best to reduce the stress as much as possible.

Try not to bathe your cat often, as you can easily dry out the skin and cause irritation. Try to only bathe your cat when he's gotten into something sticky or smelly because for the most part your cat will be able to clean himself with his own personal grooming tools- his teeth, tongue, and claws.

When you do bathe your cat, though, make sure that you use a good cat shampoo. Avoid using dog shampoos or your own personal shampoo, as there could be something in the dog's shampoo or your own that may irritate your cat's skin.

Otherwise, for tips on giving your cat a bath, check out the below steps.

  1. Schedule your bath when your cat is at his calmest state. Do your best to tire out your cat before you put him in the sink or bathtub, as it will make the overall experience easier on you and your cat.
  2. Before the bath, try to trim your cats claws and brush him to remove any excess and loose fur and mats. Some cats are calmed by grooming, so this may be very helpful for many cat lovers- groom then bathe.
  3. Now, that your cat is ready for his bath, make sure that you are. Put something on the bottom of the bathtub or sink to prevent you or the cat from slipping.
  4. Fill the tub or sink with about 4 inches of warm water. You don't want hot or cold; find a nice medium in-between.
  5. Use a spray nozzle or a cup to get your cat wet. Avoid the eyes, ears, and nose, and once the cat is wet, gently massage in your shampoo from head to tail in the direction of the hair growth. Continue to avoid the eyes, ears, and nose.
  6. Once, you've fully lathered your cat, you'll want to rinse him off using the spray nozzle or cup. You can use the water in the tub, but you'll always want to make sure the final rinse is with clean water. If you use the tub water, make sure that you drain the tub as needed because you're not doing your cat a bit of good rinsing him with dirty water. And, remember to thoroughly rinse off all the shampoo because if you leave any shampoo in the fur, it will irritate your cat's skin, which can potentially cause dry skin, a reaction, or compulsive grooming.
  7. You still need to clean your cat's face, but you don't want to use running water or a spray. Use a warm washcloth to wipe off your cat's face. Plain water without any soap should be fine, unless your cat has gotten into something, to which you can use diluted shampoo, but be very careful not to get any in the eyes, ears, or nose.
  8. Once you've finished bathing your cat, you'll need to dry him. You want to avoid drafts and cold air. You can use a big towel and just towel-dry the cat, or you can attempt to use the hair dryer; not many cats enjoy the hair dryer, so to reduce stress, it's generally not recommended.
  9. If you're cat has medium or long hair, you'll want to carefully comb through it using a wide-toothed comb. Make slow strokes through the fur so that you don't hurt the cat if he has a tangle.

After the entire session, praise your cat with a nice treat of his favorite treat or can food.


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    • girly_girl09 profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Another good thing is to start bathing them at a young age. I know it doesn't help if your cat is 6 and needs a bath because he got into something yesterday lol, but I found that my cat doesn't mind water (much) because I started shampooing him as a kitten. He has always had really bad breath so his fur would smell like it, otherwise. I'm not a crazy cat lady, I swear! ;)

    • NateSean profile image


      8 years ago from Salem, MA

      Where were you when I was ten years old and trying to give my cat a bath the hard way? *shutters*

    • IdeaMorphist profile image


      8 years ago from Chicagoland

      It sounds so easy when you write it out! I picked up a few hints here, thanks for sharing.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      lol that poor cat's face. My brother had a cat he needed to wash occasionally.

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia

      hello, hello, you can bathe a cat, and yes they generally keep themselves clean, but if they get into something messy, then they should be bathed

      myawn, generally, you wouldn't want to bathe the cat, and damp wash cloths is a great way to help your cat keep himself clean, but as mentioned in the hub, if your cat gets into something sticky, smelly, or just something nasty and needs help, a bath should be given.

    • myawn profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      I haven't ever bathed mine. I wash them off them a wet cloth sometimes when they go out and come back in dusty.That is not often. I know they like to watch the faucet drip but don't like to get wet.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Do you bath a cat? I thought they wash themself. Thank you for a good read.


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