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How to Bathe Cats

Updated on February 11, 2012
Max Dalton profile image

Max holds a B.S. in mass communications from SIU, an M.A. in communications from U of I, and is pursuing an MBA from Webster University.


Some cats hate getting a bath more than others, but they all generally dislike the process. How often you bathe your cat your is up to you. If your cat spends a great deal of time outside, consider doing it once a month, and if your cat is an indoor cat consider doing it every other month. The following process details how to make the process some ways to make the process less painful for both the cat and yourself.


  1. File down or clip your cats nails. This way if your cat freaks out and starts clawing and scratching, the damage won't be as severe if she comes after you or goes after her surroundings.
  2. Brush away dead hair and pull away clumps of dirt or any other large, visible objects that are stuck to your cat.
  3. Love on your cat a little. Spend five to 10 minutes petting her and also consider giving her a treat. This relaxes your cat and makes her more receptive to getting a bath. Another approach is to play with your cat until she becomes tired. Either way, you want your cat happy and relaxed just before dunking her in the bath.
  4. Fill the tub, sink or other location where you'll be bathing your cat with a few inches of lukewarm water. Also, have a pitcher or two of lukewarm water nearby to get your cat wet initially and to rinse her off. In both cases, take extra care to avoid cold water, as using cold water can upset your cat and make the bathing process incredibly difficult.
  5. Slowly lower your cat into the wash area. Keep your hands securely around her for a few seconds to hold her in place until she doesn't feel tense. If you let go before she becomes somewhat comfortable with where she is, she'll escape at the first chance.
  6. Pour some water from one of the nearby pitchers over your cat until she's good and wet, taking care to avoid getting water in her eyes, nose and ears. Alternatively, you can splash some water up on her from the tub.
  7. Rub baby shampoo or shampoo specifically for cats into your cat's fur for two to three minutes. Using regular shampoo will cause her skin to dry out and start itching. If your cat tries to run away, keep her in the tub to the best of your ability.
  8. Wash the shampoo off of your cat using all of the water that's left in the pitchers.
  9. Remove your cat from the tub and dry her off with a regular towel to the best of your ability before letting her get away. Cats with longer hair should be brushed immediately to keep it from getting tangled. If your cat will stand for it, use a blow dryer to dry her off quickly.
  10. Your cat will likely want to go and wash herself off as soon as possible after you let her go. However, love on her some more and offer her some treats as soon as she gets past the turmoil of being bathed.

© 2012 Max Dalton


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    • Max Dalton profile imageAUTHOR

      Max Dalton 

      6 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

      Thanks for the comment, Simone!

      Our 16-month-old daughter wasn't in on the action this time, but I gave our other cat a bath a few days before by myself and then let her go, our daughter kept chasing her and babbling at her; I'm sure it felt like insult to injury for the cat, but it was hysterical to watch for us.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hahaa, one of the great sources of entertainment during my childhood was cat bathing time. This video is.... splendid.

      And your tips are wonderful! The first one is really the best- and one I learned the hard way. Hoooo boy!

    • Max Dalton profile imageAUTHOR

      Max Dalton 

      6 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

      Thanks, alocsin. There's a lot of improvisation while you actually do it, but my wife and I modified these from some other things we found after we got our cats.

    • Max Dalton profile imageAUTHOR

      Max Dalton 

      6 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

      Side the declawing it's been a less difficult process. The first time was a learning experience, lol.

    • Max Dalton profile imageAUTHOR

      Max Dalton 

      6 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

      Hi michifus,

      Yeah. Sometimes the cats take it better than others. Last night was One of the more difficult outings we've had. A little worried that PETA would be knocking on our door,lol.

    • alocsin profile image


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Not that I would ever need to bathe a cat, since I don't own one, but these look like good instructions. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 

      6 years ago from SE MA

      Bathe a cat? How crazy do I look?

    • michifus profile image


      6 years ago

      Good video - I need to bathe the cat today. I'm not looking forward to it, even with your helpful tips.

    • Max Dalton profile imageAUTHOR

      Max Dalton 

      6 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

      Hi SantaCruz,

      Thanks for the comment. My wife had a cat the vet had wrangle with the same thing they catch snakes with. Pretty sure the vet wore a kevlar vest and very thick gloves.



    • SantaCruz profile image


      6 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Here's how to bathe a cat: Drive to the vet! :)

      Those are all good tips. Really, if you're going to bathe a cat yourself, remember that even the sweetest cat can scratch like the devil during this unnatural time. Have long-sleeved oven mitts handy. You can also wear a wool coat backwards to protect your arms and chest.


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