How to Bathe a Cat

We all know cats hate being put into soapy water and washed down, but sometimes there’s no way around it. However, as worrying as the idea of bathing cats may be, there are ways to make the experience a little more comfortable for both you and your pet.

Bath Time

Cats don’t usually need a bath – nor do they ever want one! Sometimes, though, your cat may get very dirty or too close to something it shouldn’t, such as toxic sprays, and needs to be washed.

  • Buy a specialist cat shampoo. Make sure it’s a mild all-rounder with no harsh chemicals or perfumes. Never use human shampoo, which is unsuitable for cat hair and skin because of the different pH levels.
  • Use a large plastic bucket or a bath lined with a non-slip floor mat. Fill the tub with just enough warm water to wash your cat.
  • If cats find bathing frightening, they may hiss or bite. Cat bites are notorious for causing infections, so seek medical advice if you are bitten.
  • Give your cat plenty of praise and reassurance. Food treats make a useful distraction.
  • Apply a small amount of shampoo and lather up, right down to the tail, not forgetting the underside and neck. It helps to take your cat out of the water and onto a towel while you do this. Be careful not to get any shampoo in your cat’s eyes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm, clean water, avoiding the eyes and inner ears.
  • After soaping and rinsing, your cat will want to vigorously shake off the excess water.
  • Rub your cat from head to toe with a towel and remove them from the tub.
  • If you have more than one cat, this may be the time when conflict breaks out. Separate your bathed cats until they are calm, then rub all cats with the same towel to distribute the scents.
  • Dry your cat in a warm room and don’t let her go outside until she is completely dry.

Cat bathing is just one part of a good cat grooming routine; take a look at cutting your cat's claws and general cat grooming tips for more advice.

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