How To Bathe A Cat [9 Easy Steps To Give Your Cat A Bath]

Here we’ll talk about how to clean a cat (even though your cat might not like it!)

If you aren’t sure that your cat needs a bath, check out our guide on whether your cat needs a bath.


First, we’ll discuss how to prepare a good bath for your cat then we’ll tell you how to bathe your cat properly. Here’s a summary of our full post.

  • Get prepared and buy the right cat shampoo.
  • Make sure that you soothe your cat before, during, and after bath time.
  • Take time to give your cat a full bath. Remember that this will work according to your cat’s pace, not yours.
  • Pet and praise your cat. This will help him associate the bathing experience with positive memories.

How to Bathe a Cat

Most cats act negatively when it’s time to have a bath. This can be quite stressful for the owner and the cat.

Cats need a bath only in special cases when they can’t groom themselves or when they’re sick. This is why you should be ready and get your cat ready before bath time.

Getting Ready

Before you both jump into the water, there are a few things that you can do to make this experience as pleasant as possible.

  • Buy special cat shampoo. Human shampoo doesn’t work well on the cat’s hair and skin and might cause an allergic reaction.
  • Make sure that the shampoo or soap you’re using are mild and don’t contain any harsh chemicals.
  • Fill a small tub or big bucket with water. Make sure that it’s lined with a floor mat to make sure that your furry friend won’t slip.
  • Cats are afraid of water so they might hiss or bite. Praise your cat and be ready to give enough reassurance.
  • If the cat is extremely anxious, use food treats to keep it distracted.
  • Trim your cat’s claws before they get into the water. This will minimize the probability of scratching accidents.
  • Use a brush to remove any knots or tangles before the cat’s hair gets wet. This is usually easier and more relaxing.

It’s Bath Time

Now that you and your cat are ready, it’s time to get serious. Follow these steps to give your cat a relaxing bath.

  1. Fill the bucket or tub with some warm water. Add special cat toys that your furry friend only get to play with when they’re having a bath to associate the experience with something pleasant.
  2. Close the bathroom door before you start the bath. This will keep your cat from escaping and will let other cats out if you have more than one in your family.
  3. Avoid using running water while bathing the cat as it might scare him. Fill a couple of pots with water to rinse the cat when you’re done.
  4. Talk to your cat in a smooth soothing voice. If it prefers to be held, do it while allowing it to put two feet in the tub to feel more secure.
  5. Apply a small amount of the shampoo and lather up. You can use a towel or your hands to clean the tail, belly, back, and neck without getting close to the face.
  6. Make sure that the shampoo won’t touch your cat’s eyes or ears as this can make him very uncomfortable. Water in the ears can cause a serious infection so use a cotton ball if necessary.
  7. Massage your cat’s body from the neck down so he feels comfortable and relaxed. If this is your cat’s first bath, he might resist a little so you might want to start with the legs and clean the rest of the body on another day.
  8. It might be easier to ask someone to hold your cat, without harming him while you give him a bath.
  9. If you’re bathing your cat to get rid of fleas, start with the neck. This way the fleas won’t escape to the head and face while you’re washing the rest of the body.

Bubble bath a small gray stray cat

After You’re Done

Bathing your cat isn’t easy, especially if this is his first time. However, it’s a learning experience for the cat and the owner.

  • Watch your cat for any signs of distress or panic. If there’s an area that you can’t clean well, you can always use a wet cloth to remove any dirt.
  • Prepare a smooth and soft towel to dry your cat after you’ve rinsed him properly.
  • Blot the water off your little friend’s body.
  • If possible warm the towel in the dryer as cats find this quite soothing.
  • If your cat has short hair, you can let him air dry by providing a dry towel where he can sit and relax.
  • Long-haired cats need special attention as you might need to keep on brushing the hair to avoid tangles and knots.
  • Use a warm hairdryer to dry your cat but stop if he is scared of the sound.

Now that mission is accomplished, you should pet your cat and praise him or her. Help your cat understand that bath time is a pleasant experience that can be full of rewards and treats.


Although your cat might not be typically fond of taking a bath, you can always make this experience better for both of you.

Use the right products and have the patience to introduce your cat to the bath, even if this is not his first time. Work with your cat; if you feel that he can’t take it, then it’s time to stop.

Understanding the signs given by your furry friend will help both of you make the best of the bath time. After reading this post, you’ll be able to know how to bathe a cat in the most comfortable way.

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