Cat Tips

10 Tips & Tricks on How To Bathe a Cat

Cats tend to hate water. Of course, that varies from cat to cat. Maine Coon cats, for example, usually love water and may even join you in the bath. However, giving your cat a bath is a tough task with most felines.

Fortunately, most cats are great at cleaning themselves. Their tongues are built to clean themselves, so most breeds don’t need baths very often. However, sometimes your cat might need help getting clean, and you need to be prepared.

Here at Spot Pet Insurance, we understand that bathing a cat can be tricky, but we know that sometimes, it is necessary for the health and happiness of your furry family member. Our goal is to help you be the best pet parent you can be and provide your cat with a wonderful and happy life.

Our main method of helping you and your cat is by providing you and your cat with a personalized pet insurance plan that can help cover eligible emergencies, chronic conditions, and hereditary issues, as long as they aren’t pre-existing.

However, we also hope to help by providing articles, like this one, with tips and tricks for pet parents. After all, sometimes, a little advice or research can go a long way.

How can you make bath time easier for you and your cat?

Does my cat need a bath?

You first need to consider whether or not bathing your cat is necessary. Cats tend to groom themselves, and they’re usually very clean. Adult cats might spend as much as 50% of their time awake grooming themselves.

There are some circumstances in which your cat might need help, though. It might be necessary to bathe them regularly as part of a medical treatment. Or, maybe your cat got into some mischief that left them messy.

There are three main reasons you might need to bathe your cat. They might be dirty or have bugs, the breed may just need some extra help, or maybe your cat needs treatment for a skin problem.

Are they dirty or smelly?

If you have an indoor cat, it’s not very likely for them to get into a big mess, but there’s always a small chance. Someone might have made a mess in the kitchen, and your cat came in to explore, or maybe your cat accidentally got out and met a skunk.

It’s also possible that your cat might need a bath due to a bug infestation, particularly fleas. Whatever the reason, if your cat is really dirty, chances are, they’ll need help getting clean.

Does this breed need help cleaning themselves?

Some cat breeds require more maintenance than others, particularly long-haired breeds like the Persian. They need help keeping their coats pristine and matt-free. Ironically, hairless cat breeds, like the sphinx, also need regular baths to help them remove the excess oils on their skin.

However, some long hair breeds, like the Maine Coon or the Turkish Van, are actually water-lovers. They might even join you in the bath, so beware. Turkish Vans, in particular, like to use water to cool off when it’s hot out.

Does my cat have a medical need?

If your cat suffers from certain medical conditions, they may need regular baths as part of their treatment, especially if they have a skin condition like ringworm. A cat with many allergies might also find baths helpful.

It’s also possible that your cat may not be up to keeping themselves clean anymore. They could be suffering from arthritis, or they could just be getting on in years. Maybe they find it difficult to reach some areas.

Some medical issues will require you to help your cat stay clean, and a clean cat is a happy cat.

10 tips for making bath time easier

One of the best ways to have easy bath times with your cat is to start getting them used to it as kittens. Kittens are much more accepting of new experiences, and as long as they don’t have negative experiences with water, it will make your life a lot easier. Of course, this list is also helpful if you need to bathe a kitten.

However, not everyone will have this privilege, so here are the top 10 tips for bathing your cat:

Make your cat comfortable

One of the best ways to ensure bath time goes smoothly is to ensure that your cat feels comfortable. There are plenty of reasons that your cat may not like bath time, so the more you can get rid of, the better.

Generally, cats prefer being steady in the bath. It’s a good idea to place a towel or a mat at the bottom of the tub for them to stand on. This way, they won’t feel like they’re slipping and sliding around the tub.

You should also keep the room at a comfortable temperature. It shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. Plus, since cats can’t sweat, it’s a good idea to ensure the water isn’t super hot. A little bit higher than lukewarm would be best for your cat.

The water should only be a few inches high so that most of your cat’s body is above water. It should only cover the paws and maybe half an inch or so of the leg.

By petting your cat throughout the bath, you can help them feel loved, safe, and slightly more comfortable. Try to use encouraging words and a soothing voice.

You can also put a floating toy in the water to distract your cat.

Keep yourself calm

If you’re agitated or stressed out, your cat will be agitated and stressed out. They may struggle more, especially if you scold them or are harsh. However, if you’re calm, your cat will be more likely to follow suit.

You should be gentle and calm when bathing your cat. It will help make bath time a more positive experience. You could also ask someone to help you bathe your cat, but make sure that they are calm too.

Make sure other grooming needs have been taken care of

This is mostly for your sake rather than your cat’s. Cats have a lot of hair and sharp claws, but if you keep up with their grooming, the whole process will be easier.

First, you should probably schedule bath time for the day after you trim your cat’s nails. It might not be fun to have two difficult tasks so close to one another, but you’ll be grateful if your cat tries to scratch in an attempt to get away.

Thoroughly comb your cat before bathing them. This should help get rid of any excess hair that would otherwise clog up the drain.

Be prepared

Before bringing your cat into the bathroom or the area where you’ll give your feline friend a bath, double-check you have everything you need.

Here’s a list of everything you need to lather up and rinse off your cat; you can grab these cat bath essentials from your local pet store.

  • Cat shampoo

  • The towel or rubber mat for the bottom of the tub

  • A towel for drying

  • A distracting toy

  • Treats (for the end)

  • A cup or another device to ladle water over your cat

  • A washcloth

  • Cotton balls for cleaning out your cat’s ears

You should also make sure there aren’t any mirrors that your cat might get startled by during the bathing process. Once you are ready to start the bath, close the door so that you don’t have a soapy escapee running around the house, leaving you looking for your blow dryer.

Just remember to get a shampoo that’s made for cats, or use the shampoo prescribed by the vet. Human shampoo can be harsh on your cat’s skin. It can also get in your cat’s eyes and irritate them.

Try avoiding times when your cat is energetic

As any professional groomer will tell you, if your cat is bursting with energy at bath time, you’ll have a big fight ahead of you. Instead, you should try scheduling bath time and cat grooming when your cat is sleepier. They won’t be as willing to fight as much. A good time to try might be after playtime.

Wash the body, but avoid the face

When you’re soaping down your cat’s fur, you should start at their neck and then work your way to their tail. You should gently massage it in. Don’t be rough.

You also should avoid shampooing your cat’s face, ears, and eyes.

Rinse by a pour-over method

Your cat won’t enjoy being forced under the faucet or sprayer, especially since they would avoid it themselves. A better method is to use a cup or pitcher to gently pour lukewarm water over your cat’s back to rinse them off. Running water often freaks cats out, so fill up your pitcher first, then turn the water off.

If you’re washing a kitten, it might be easier to dip the kitten into a clean bowl or tub of water to rinse them off. Just wash out the cat hair before using the bowl again!

Use a washcloth to clean the face

If you need to clean your cat’s face, you should use a damp washcloth and warm water to gently wipe off their face and remove dander. You shouldn’t pour water over their faces or use shampoo, as it will be scary and uncomfortable.

Other methods are better for cleaning your cat’s ears, if necessary. Your cat’s DVM will be able to best advise you on how to take care of that.

Ensure your cat is rinsed-well and dried well

Since your cat will groom themselves again, rinse off the suds completely since shampoo is neither good nor fun to taste. It will also prevent your cat from feeling that soapy, uncomfortable feeling you get when you still have soap in your hair.

When drying a cat, double-check that they are completely dry. Wet cats get colder easier, and it can also cause other issues with their hair, especially in long-haired breeds. For longer-haired breeds, you may want to use a hair dryer on a low setting and from a short distance to prevent burns. You should try to be quick but thorough.

You should also comb long-haired cats afterward to work out any mats that formed during cleaning.

Reward your cat

After the bath, you should always give your cat a treat. Cats associate treats with positive feelings, so it might help them be more inclined to take a bath later.

Clean and happy cats

Your cat may not enjoy bath time right away, especially if they’ve had bad experiences with water when they were younger. However, with a little bit of time and effort, you may be able to make bath time easier and maybe even fun for you and your cat.

Most cats are great at cleaning themselves, but there are circumstances where you might be required to give your cat a bath. As a good pet parent, it’s important to be prepared for those times.

By keeping your cat comfortable, staying calm, and cleaning them thoroughly, bath time might go much better for your and your fur baby. A little bribery doesn’t hurt either.


  • A Guide on How to Bathe a Cat Who Hates Water |

  • How to Bathe Your Kitten or Adult Cat | The Spruce Pets

  • Tips for How to Bathe Your Cat or Kitten | WebMD

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