Bathing Your Cat

bathing your cat
When bathing your cat, it’s best to have a game plan in place so you can do this as quickly and efficiently as possible.

If your cat has a run-in with a skunk or if you just want to minimize the level of dander in your home, bathing your cat may be the answer.

In order to accomplish this daunting task, it’s best to have a game plan in place so you can do this as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Bathing your cat can be a monumental challenge and not for the faint of heart!

Plan Ahead

Although there some cat breeds that love water, most cats will avoid getting in the water at all costs. If you are concerned about a violent reaction from your cat, speak with your veterinarian first. He or she should be able to offer you some behavioral recommendations or even prescribe medications to reduce the anxiety in your cat.


Do some grooming work on your cat in advance.  For example, trim your cat’s nails before the bath. That way, you reduce the number of potential scratches on your forearms.  Be sure to give your cat a good brushing, too, to remove any loose and matted fur.


Decide on the bath location.  Two options are a bathtub or a sink that has a handheld spray nozzle.  Cats are great at fleeing the scene, so consider a room with a door to minimize escape options.

Gather Tools/Supplies

Get the proper tools and equipment in order by the bathing unit:  shampoo (formulated for pets), soft washcloth for the face and head, soft towel to dry your cat, any topical medicines that you might be applying to your cat.

You are probably going to want an assistant to help soothe and/or restrain your cat.  Your two hands against his four paws and fighting spirit is not enough!

Bath Time

Now…time for the fun stuff…the actual bath. offers this advice for bathing your cat:

  • Prepare the water.  Make sure it is lukewarm. Test the water with your hand to ensure it’s not too hot or too cold.
  • As you put your cat into the tub, gently wet his fur with the spray nozzle or a washcloth. Avoid splashing any water into his eyes, ears or nose.
  • Massage some shampoo (formulated specifically for pets) into his fur and be sure to follow the directions on the label. Use a washcloth to clean his face and head.
  • For rinsing, a spray nozzle (set to very light spray) is best as you can easily maneuver it around the cat’s body. Alternatively, you can use a wet washcloth to do this step.  Make sure you have rinsed all the soapy spots. Any remaining shampoo residue can irritate your cat’s skin.
  • Check all over his body. Be a super sleuth! Dry your cat with a soft towel. If your cat is willing, use a hairdryer on low heat.

Finally, and we cannot overstate this enough – offer a treat to your cat upon completion.

Bathing your cat can be a stressful experience for both of you, but some advance planning can help get through the process with minimum stress.


Written by Ann Butenas

Ann Butenas

An internationally-recognized author and writer, Ann began her professional writing career at age 12 and began speaking while in college. She has been published thousands of times over the past three decades in all media forms, was former editor and publisher of KC Metro Woman magazine, and has also hosted three talk radio shows in the Kansas City area.