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How to bathe a cat in 8 steps

Read on to discover our top tips for how to bathe a cat, especially if you have a water-hating cat.


a white and yellow cat seating on the foor

Cats are generally self-cleaning but at some point they might need a bath. The task can seem a bit complicated as cats usually try to avoid water. Here we’ll help with the key steps for how to bathe a cat safely. 

Don’t forget to reward your cat after bathing them! Plenty of positive reinforcement is required so it will be easier next time.

How to shower a cat: the preparation steps

Before we show you how to bathe a kitten or cat, here’s how to get them ready for their bath.

  1. Make sure your cat’s claws are trimmed.
  2. Brush your cat’s fur. 
  3. Make sure you have the correct cat shampoo. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label.
  4. Play with your cat. To help your cat adjust to being in the tub, put the toys into the tub so they can play there!

How to give a cat a bath: a step-by-step guide

From advice on questions like ‘how often should you bathe a cat?’ to tips on getting ready to bathe your pet, this guide will help you.

  1. Make sure that your bathroom door is closed.
  2. Keep the toilet seat down.
  3. Get your bathtub ready.
    • Lay a rubber mat or towel in the bottom of the tub to prevent your cat from slipping.
    • Fill the tub with 2-3 inches of warm water. 
    • Fill the bath before taking your cat in to avoid scaring them with the sound of running water. 
    • Avoid using an overhead shower head as it could run too hard and overwhelm your cat.
    • Fill a bucket with water and place it to the side of your bath tub.

When it comes to understanding how to bathe a cat that hates water, here are some top tips:

  1. Stay calm, if you’re nervous it will cause your cat to be nervous. 
  2. Talk to your cat using a calm, quiet voice while washing them.
  3. Always be gentle. 
  4. Take particular care around their head and belly which are the most sensitive areas.

Wear protective clothing such as a jumper or long-sleeved T-shirt to keep you safe from possible scratches and do you best to keep them still, and calm.

How to bathe your cat

Here are the steps to follow to wash your cat:

  • Only bathe your cat if they are older than 4 weeks.
  • Do not bathe your cat more often than every 4-6 weeks.
  • Soak your cat from the neck down.
  • Add a little shampoo and water to wash your cat’s neck, body, legs, belly, and tail. (Remember to check with your vet to find a suitable product.)
  • Start at the neck and work your way down their body.
  • To keep them relaxed, wash them in a massaging motion.
  • Always keep shampoo out of your cat’s eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
  • Using the water from the tub, rinse your cat.
  • Let the water out of the tub and use the clean water in the bucket to ensure all soap is removed from your cat’s fur.
  • Use clean water and a soft cloth to wipe your cat’s face.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of distress such as hissing, growling, heavy breathing, sneezing or crying. If your cat becomes too distressed, stop.
  • If you are bathing your cat because of fleas, ensure you wet their neck first to prevent them all rushing to your cat’s head.
  • To dry your cat: 
  • Use a towel to gently press water out of the fur.
  • Wrap your cat in a dry towel and rub their fur.
  • If the towel becomes too wet, swap it for a dry towel.

If you’re bathing your cat because they smell, you may also want to take care of any pet odours around your home. Check out our articles on the best pet odour remover products and how to remove urine smell to help you.

With this article, you now have a super-simple, step-by-step guide for bathing your cat as well as information about how often to bathe a cat.

Originally published