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Published: Jan 24, 2024 4 min read

Bathing a cat may seem like a daunting task, as most felines are known for their aversion to water. However, it needs to be done; giving your cat a bath is essential for their health and hygiene.

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of bathing your cat successfully.

Table of contents

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9 Steps to Bathe Your Cat

1. Prepare Ahead:

First, gather all the necessary supplies. This should be done prior to bringing your cat anywhere near water. You'll need cat-friendly shampoo, a non-slip mat for the bathtub or sink, soft towels, a gentle brush, and a handheld sprayer or cup for wetting and rinsing your cat.

2. Brush Your Cat:

Brush your cat's fur to remove any loose hair or mats. This makes the bathing process smoother, helps reduce shedding, and prevents your drains from clogging with fur.

3. Trim the Nails:

If your cat's nails are long, consider trimming them before the bath to prevent any scratches.

4. Test the Water Temperature:

Fill the tub or sink with lukewarm water (about 2 to 3 inches should be alright). Test the water with your wrist before placing your cat in it.

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5. Gently Introduce Your Cat to the Water:

Gradually (and gently) place your cat in the water. We recommend offering treats and playful reinforcement to create positive associations with the bathing experience.

6. Use Calming Techniques:

Calm your cat by speaking to them in a soothing tone and stroking their fur. It's essential to keep the atmosphere relaxed and stress-free.

7. Apply Cat-Friendly Shampoo:

Once your cat is wet and calm, apply a small amount of cat-specific shampoo and start lathering it gently into the fur. Avoid the face and ears, as cats are sensitive in these areas.

8. Rinse Thoroughly:

Rinse your cat thoroughly with lukewarm water and make sure all the shampoo is washed away. Leftover soap residue can irritate your cat's skin.

9. Dry Your Cat:

Gently lift your cat from the water. Use several towels to blot excess water from their fur, being careful not to rub vigorously. You could use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process — but make sure the device is in its coolest temperature setting.

Even if you regularly bathe your cat according to the steps mentioned above, it still may develop a skin condition. Fortunately, some pet insurance plans offer coverage for skin-related treatments.

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How to Bathe a Cat FAQs

How often should I bathe my cat?

Cats usually groom themselves, meaning that frequent baths are unnecessary. However, certain situations, such as medical conditions, accidents, or particularly messy encounters, may require more regular baths. To make sure, consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate bathing frequency for your cat's specific needs.

Can I use regular human shampoo on my cat?

No, it is not recommended to use regular human shampoo on cats. Human shampoos contain ingredients and PH levels that can be harmful to a feline’s skin.

Are there any signs that my cat is not tolerating the bath well?

Signs of high stress include excessive vocalization, rapid breathing, and desperate attempts to escape. If your cat appears extremely distressed, it's best to stop the bath and consult with your veterinarian.

Can I bathe my cat if they have fleas?

Yes, but it's important to use a cat-safe flea shampoo and consult with your veterinarian for the most effective flea treatment plan. We also recommend using a flea comb to remove adult fleas and their eggs from the fur.

Should I bathe a kitten?

No, unless the kitten is extremely dirty or has a medical condition that requires it. It's generally advisable to wait until a kitten is at least 8 weeks old before introducing them to baths.

Summary of Money’s guide on how to bathe a cat

Bathing a cat is crucial for their health and hygiene. Even though the process can be a bit challenging (due to a cat’s infamous aversion to water), there are steps you can take to make the process stress-free — and even pleasurable — for both you and your cat. This guide outlines nine steps for a successful cat bath, including gathering supplies, brushing, trimming nails, testing water temperature, introducing the cat to water gradually, using calming techniques, applying cat-friendly shampoo, thorough rinsing, and gentle drying.