What To Know About Giving Your Cat A Bath

Good luck 😂

cat getting bathed

Grooming is important to keep your cat fresh and clean, and while most cats are amazing at self-grooming, there are some instances where you might need to actually give your cat a bath.

“In most instances, cats don’t truly need baths,” Dr. Natalie Marks, a veterinarian at Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago and Royal Canin partner, told The Dodo. “They have barbed tongues and are usually fastidious groomers and they take care of their coats incredibly well.”

However, there are some medical reasons (like skin issues or limited mobility) that might mean your cat needs medicated baths or some help staying clean. Of course, it’s also good to know how to bathe your cat in case they ever sit in the kitchen sink without realizing it’s full of last night’s lasagna. 

Just so you’re prepared when the time comes, here are some tips to make the experience as stress-free as possible — for both you and your cat.

1. Wash your cat in her preferred location

According to Dr. Marks, you don’t have to wash your cat in a bathtub if somewhere else will be more comfortable for her. “Some cats are more tolerant of the shower with a flexible nozzle for more control, while other cats prefer being in the kitchen sink where warm water is gently poured on them from a cup,” Dr. Marks said.

This’ll probably take a few tries, but figuring out where your cat’s the most comfortable will make future baths much easier.

2. Use lukewarm water with a gentle pressure

“Make sure the temperature is at the same lukewarm level comparable to bathing a baby,” Dr. Marks recommends. “You can check on the back of your wrist or even with a thermometer.” 

As for the water pressure, gentle running water is best — preferably away from your cat’s face.

3. Use calming sprays 

Dr. Marks suggested spraying calming compounds around the bath and towel you’ll be using to create a more relaxed environment.

4. Use wipes around your cat’s face and eyes

Unless these areas have to be cleaned a certain way per your veterinarian, just use gentle wipes to clean them, instead of trying to get your cat’s whole face wet.

5. Have high-reward treats (aka treats your cat will rarely refuse) to help create a positive experience in your cat’s mind.

“If your cat won’t take treats, you can also massage your cat or brush intermittently if your cat prefers,” Dr. Marks suggested.

Basically, you know your cat the best — so do her favorite thing.

6. Use a non-skid surface

You don’t like slipping and sliding in the shower, and neither will your cat. Make sure she has some grip underneath her or she’ll absolutely hate her life — and no one wants an angry wet cat.

7. Make sure you work slowly

As you know, cats aren’t fans of weird things — and that’s exactly what a bath is. Work slowly and carefully so you don’t totally freak her out.

“If your cat starts to become anxious or fearful, pause the bath, regroup and move slower,” Dr. Marks said.

And if you notice your cat is just not having it at all, contact your veterinarian for additional assistance to help your cat relax.

8. After the bath, wrap your cat gently in the towel that was sprayed with calming compounds 

Using a towel sprayed with calming compounds should help her relax. Once dried off, let your cat either stay wrapped up and snuggle or move to a location she prefers.

Giving your cat a bath doesn’t have to be a disaster. Just follow the above tips and your cat will be smelling like a field of fresh flowers in no time.

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