How To Bathe A Cat

Without her trying to kill you 🙀

It’s no secret: Most cats aren’t trying to take a bath anytime soon.

That’s because most cats hate water, so baths are a truly stressful experience for them.

And luckily for cats, since they spend a lot of time grooming themselves, they don’t generally need baths.

Of course there are rare times where your cat might need a bath, and if you ever find yourself in this situation, there are ways to make the experience more comfortable for your cat — and for you!

(In other words, here’s how to bathe your cat without her trying to kill you.)

When do cats ever need baths?

“Don’t bathe your cat unless you absolutely need to do it,” Dr. Catherine Lenox, a veterinarian and regulatory veterinary manager at Royal Canin, told The Dodo.

Some of the reasons your cat might need a bath include:

  • She has trouble grooming herself.
  • She got dirty outside.
  • She soiled herself.
  • She has a skin condition that requires a medicated bath.

“If they do need one, have all your supplies ready to go, including your cat’s favorite treats and a cat-safe shampoo recommended by your vet,” Dr. Lenox recommended.

This is so you don’t need to step away to grab something while you have a furious, soaking-wet cat sitting in the sink.

Also, keep in mind that while you might need a specialized shampoo in some cases (like if you’re treating a skin condition), one shampoo that a lot of veterinarians recommend for general use (or for cats with itchy skin) is Douxo S3 Calm Shampoo.

Get Douxo S3 Calm Shampoo from Chewy for $20.99

“This one can be used for cats with allergic skin problems and/or to soothe and hydrate the skin,” Dr. Lenox said. “It’s a good idea to check with your vet first though, in case your cat needs a specific type of shampoo.”

How to bathe your cat

When giving your cat a bath, keep a few things in mind:

Use a sink

“The best option is a sink because of the smaller size vs. a tub, and the water should be very shallow to help minimize anxiety about the water,” Dr. Lenox said.

It’s important not to submerge your cat in deep water — because she’s probably already stressed out enough just having to TOUCH water to begin with. “If only one area of the cat is soiled, focus on that area during the bath only,” Dr. Lenox said.

Keep the water temperature comfortable

The water should be warm (between room and body temperature), but never cold or hot. “You don’t want to make the experience bad with cold water and you don’t want to cause pain with hot water,” Dr. Lenox advised. “Filling the sink too high or using cold or hot water could make the experience negative, which is difficult when most cats don’t really like baths or water that much to begin with.”

Dry her off with a towel (or maybe a blowdryer!)

Dr. Lenox recommends drying your cat off with a towel to remove any excess water.

“If you have a long-haired cat (or a short-haired cat, but it’s more important for cats with longer hair) and they will tolerate a blow-dry on the coolest setting, that can be helpful,” Dr. Lenox recommended.

Brush her after she’s dry

“They’ll need a good combing or brushing after you dry them off too, to help keep them from getting tangles and mats.” Dr. Lenox said.

Use can use a brush like this slicker brush from Chewy for $12.99

Also, make sure you have tons of her favorite treats to help keep her happy throughout the bath — and give her extra snuggle time afterwards.

We independently pick all the products we recommend because we love them and think you will too. If you buy a product from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.