Pet Parenting

Tips for Bathing Your Cat

Know when and how to safely groom your cat.

cats in purple towel after bath

No cat enjoys bath time. Yes, cats are equipped with barbed tongues as built-in grooming tools, but certain circumstances call for additional cleaning.

When to Bathe

  • Cats exposed to external parasites or excessive dirt may require a bath.
  • Older or obese cats may have trouble cleaning their whole body, so a bath can help.
  • Long haired cats may also need more assistance with grooming.
  • Hairless cats may need periodic baths to eliminate oils that hair normally absorbs.
  • Baths can help to reduce dander for family members with allergies.

How to Bathe

  • Time the bath when your cat is most calm. Playtime may help tire them out.
  • Trim their nails before bathing if you anticipate your cat trying to scratch you.
  • Brush your cat to help with matted hair.
  • Gently insert cotton balls into their ears to prevent water from getting in.
  • Place a rubber mat in the sink or tub to help your cat from slipping.
  • Close the door to the room you’re in to prevent them from escaping.
  • Place your cat in the sink or tub and fill it with a couple inches of lukewarm water.
  • Use a spray hose with low water pressure to wet your cat but avoid spraying directly in their ears and face.
  • If you do not have a spray hose, pour water from a cup.
  • Praise your cat throughout their bath to keep them calm.
  • Gently apply a cat-safe shampoo to their whole body, avoiding their ears and face. Cats have extremely thin skin and human shampoo can quickly dry it out.
  • Rinse out the shampoo thoroughly and check for any remaining dirt or debris.
  • Use a washcloth with only water on it to wash their face.
  • Dry your cat with a towel. If you are brave, you may use a blow dryer on low, but the odds of your cat enjoying the noise are slim. Keep your cat inside until they are completely dry.
  • Brush your cat after their bath, especially if they have long hair.
  • Reward them with a treat, toy, or playtime to put them in a better mood after their dreaded bath.