How To Give Your Cat A Bath?

All cat owners who have tried giving their cats a bath might have ended up with scratches, a thoroughly wet floor, and a scared cat. Cats have an innate hatred and fear of getting soaked in water. This reason is why it is such a difficult task to give cats a good old wash.

There are some ways through which you can give your cat a bath without including the stress associated with it. However, learning how to wash a cat requires prior knowledge about whether cats need to take baths, and when a cat may need a quick cleaning with water.

Do cats need to take baths?

No, cats do not need to take baths under normal circumstances. Cats have the perfect barbed tongues that help in keeping their fur spick and span. In addition to this fact, cats spend a lot of their time cleaning themselves every day.

Cats clean themselves after eating, they clean themselves after waking up, they clean up after relieving themselves, you name it. Cats clean themselves after almost any activity they engage in. Therefore, there is no need for a cat to require a water bath on regular days.

When to give your cat a bath

Although cats do not require water baths under standard conditions, there are a few exceptions when human interference may be necessary. Given below are some of the exceptional circumstances:

Removal of foreign substances from their fur

Sometimes, cats can get gum, grime, or toxic substances on their coat, which they cannot clean using their tongues. In such cases, you will need to step in and offer your help by giving your companion a bath.

Medical requirements 

If a cat has a flea infestation, the vet will advise you to give it baths along with medicated soap or shampoo. Baths help to get rid of fleas because these parasites cannot survive in water. Ringworm is another disease that requires baths and proper medical treatments to cure. Ringworms are very contagious, and it is best if you take care of them as soon as possible.

Obese cats

Obese cats cannot clean themselves because of their extra-large size. It becomes difficult for them to tilt their heads and lick their backs, tails, and hind legs. Obese cats will need the help of their owners to help with washing up.

Cats with arthritis

Arthritic cats are not as flexible as regular cats and hence, need to take water baths. The warm water and soft lathering may even help them to relax and feel good.

Bath loving cats

Some cats are very different from other domestic cats in the sense that they like to take baths. In such cases, cat owners can give their cats regular baths and pamper them as much as they like. However, it is necessary to use very mild shampoo in this case.

What you will need to give your cat a bath

There are some tools and pieces of equipment that you will need to get your hands on before even thinking about giving your cat a bath. Here is a list of the requirements to get ready for the cat’s bath time:

Rubber gloves

Cat owners will need a pair of rubber gloves to protect themselves from getting scratched and getting exposed to infections. Even the calmest cats can completely switch behavior when you try to bathe them. Hence, it is best to keep a pair for safety purposes.

Cat shampoo

There are many different kinds of cat shampoos available in the market. What type of shampoo your cat needs depends on the purpose of giving it a bath. If you want to get rid of some dirt or oil from its coat, regular shampoos will do. However, if it is a flea infestation that you want to get rid of, you might want to grab some medicated shampoos after consulting with a vet.

Pitcher, tub, and detachable showerhead

You will need a tub and a pitcher, or a detachable showerhead, to make the rinsing process easier. Although having a detachable showerhead is not compulsory, a bathtub and a pitcher are a must.


Your cat will want to get dry as soon and possible, and for this reason, you will need several large towels at a ready. Towels will play a multipurpose role while giving a cat a bath.

Cotton balls and wipes

Grab a bunch of cotton balls to clean your cat’s ears. You may need some face wipes or washcloths to wash the face.

Step by step guide on how to give your cat a bath

There is a specific procedure you must follow to wash your cat. Following these steps will allow you to give your cat a bath without making a mess or fuss:

Choose the right time

It is best if you choose a time of day when your cat is most calm to give it a bath. Cats are most likely to become very difficult to control once they come in contact with water. Hence, experts advise cat owners to tire the felines out with physical activities before attempting to give them a water bath.

Trim your cat’s nails

The first thing cat owners must do to prepare their cats is trim the cat’s nails. This step will prevent any scratches that may cause infections in the future.

Brush your cat

Before pouring water on your cat and starting with the bathing process, make sure you give it a light brush to get rid of loose hair. Brushing will also remove mat hair and make it easier to handle later.

Plug the ears

Plug the cat’s ears with cotton so that water does not go into their ear canal.

Mat the tub

Place a towel on the tub so that the cat can grip it instead of slipping once it is wet.

Fill the tub

Fill the tub with lukewarm water up to two to three inches only.

Soak the cat

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Gently place the cat into the tub and pour water or shower water over the fur until it is thoroughly wet. One point to note here is that you must avoid pouring or spraying water into its ears, nose, and mouth.

Add the shampoo

As mentioned earlier, you may need different types of cat shampoos depending on the reason why you are going to wash your cat. Rub the shampoo and work it into a lather. Make sure none of these substances enters the cat’s ears, eyes, and nose.

Ready to rinse

After lathering up the shampoo and washing the cat, you can rinse its fur and expel all the shampoo as well as other dirt.

Wipe the face

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As for the face, there is no need to add shampoo unless it is very filthy. Take the wipe or washcloth and gently wipe the face until it is clean.

Remove the cotton from the ears

After removing the cotton, soak some more cotton balls in lukewarm water and gently clean the ear canal. Do not go in too deep, for this may hurt the cat or cause permanent hearing disabilities.

Wrap it up

After everything is over, wrap up the cat using a towel and make sure it dries as quickly as possible. Some long fur cat breeds may need the help of a blow dryer to dry their fur up. Always make sure the cat is not scared of the sound that a blowdryer makes. You might want to give it another light brush to keep the fur smooth.

How hot should the water be?

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Never use hot water for bathing your cat. The best temperature for bathwater is a little over room temperature. If this temperature is difficult to ascertain, just go with lukewarm water. Cats and dogs have skins that are different from humans, and thus, the water temperature at which you take a bath will be too hot for your pet.

How often should you wash your cat?

There is no need to wash your cat unless the vet advises it, or your cat has got some grime or dirt on its fur. Even so, it is best to wet a cloth and try wiping the coat instead of giving it a full water bath.

Tips to make bath time more stress-free

  • Keep some treats in hand to bribe or distract the cat before the bath
  • Slowly place the cat into a tub with less water so that you do not scare it
  • Plug the cat’s ears with cotton to avoid water entry into the ear canal
  • For quick drying, use a blowdryer. Start blowing at low speed and increase gradually only after knowing that the cat is not scared of the machine.


As far as possible, do not bathe your cat. It can quickly and efficiently clean itself without the help of its owner. Remember the tips to make the day of both you and your cat, stress-free. Lukewarm water is the ideal temperature for a cat’s water bath.

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