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Bathing a Cat – Know-how

Bathing your cat is important – you may not think you need to since they are fastidious creatures that are constantly involved in self-grooming, but that doesn’t mean they will never need a bath. The sooner you start giving your cat baths, the sooner he / she will be able to tolerate them and perhaps even start joyfully loving them. Cats have a natural and well documented aversion to water, so the younger you start the better. You should be ready to get wet though.

There is not really a set schedule for when you should bathe your cat. How often you decide to do it therefore depends on the type of his coat and his own grooming efforts. Unless you have a cat that participates in cat shows, they will likely only need to be bathed on rare occasions. So, how do you know when you should do it? When your cats coat becomes smelly, feels oily or is discolored – then it is time for a bath.

Make your cat feel comfortable and safe

Obviously the bathtub is a great place to bathe a cat, but if you have a smaller breed or a kitten they may feel safer in the kitchen sink. No matter the location, be sure they feel secure and can get their footing with a towel or a non-slip mat. You will need a bottle of cat shampoo, a pail of warm water to wet the cat and for rinsing purposes as well as a towel. Have them close by when you are ready to start. You can fill the tub with three or four inches of water if you want. Just remember to drain it before you rinse your cat.

Never use adult human shampoo

There are many different kinds of shampoo available on the market today for cats. But if you don’t have any on hand a baby shampoo will work in a pinch. A cat’s skin is far more delicate that ours, and harsh shampoos can damage it by drying it out, causing it itching and flaking. If your pet has a longer coat conditioners and detanglers may be helpful, but are not necessary for short hair breeds.

Brush your furry buddy before bathing

Before bathing a medium to long haired cat you will want to brush them to remove tangles and dirt. This is not a step to skip, wet tangles are much more difficult to remove than dry ones. Mats should be thoroughly removed as well since they can trap soap and cause skin irritations.

Let the bathing begin

Now that you are all set for the actual bath, make sure that you close the door to the room you are bathing your cat in to prevent having to track down a wet, soapy, aggravated feline. Talk to your pet in a soothing tone as you place them in the tub by their body and the scruff of their necks. Cats overheat easily so you will want the water to be cool or lukewarm.

Comfortingly stroke your cat as you begin to wet his neck and head, remembering to avoid his eyes. Continue until the cat is completely wet. Rub the shampoo in thoroughly making sure to cover the entire body down to the paws, you can wash the cats face with a washcloth and plain water. Next, rinse your cat. Repeatedly. Anything you leave will irritate your cat’s sensitive skin.


Once you are done, you can towel dry your pet from head to toe. Try to dry them as much as you can, since they will definitely be shaking the leftover water all over the house.  Then shower you cat with love and affection and give them a special treat so they have a pleasant association with the experience.

If your first few bath time experiences don’t go so well, try not to worry. Cats just don’t like water, it is no reflection on you, and if you bathe them on a regular basis they will soon learn to tolerate the experience.