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How To Bathe Your Cat at Home


Giving your cat a bath doesn’t have to be an ordeal, and a little preparation can go a long way in making sure your cat feels at ease. Before you even turn on the water, prepare to bathe your cat at home with these tips.

Trim Their Nails and Brush Their Coat

Before you get ready to give your cat a bath, you’ll want to make sure their nails are trimmed. If your feline isn’t keen on keeping their claws neatly groomed, try using nail caps for cats to avoid scratches. Most cats do not like water, and they might try to crawl out of the sink or tub before their paws touch the water.

If your cat is exceptionally dirty or got into something sticky, do your best to brush out any tangles or mats. This will also help remove debris that could stick to their fur once wet.

Ready Your Supplies

Beyond the basics of shampoo and a towel, make sure you have these items within reach when you bathe your cat.

Special Cat Shampoo – Human shampoo and cleansers can irritate your cat’s delicate skin. It’s best to use a shampoo that’s specially designed for felines. If you don’t have cat shampoo, you can also use a mild baby shampoo.

Small Pitcher or Cup – Your cat or kitten likely isn’t a fan of water. Rather than getting them wet under the running faucet, use a small pitcher or cup to wet their fur and rinse. If you’re bathing your cat in the sink, you can also use the nozzle if the water pressure is gentle. Make sure you’re using warm – not hot – water.
Cotton Balls – If you plan to clean your cat’s ears, keep a few cotton balls handy. Do not use ear cleaners to remove ear wax or debris from your kitty’s ears; they can injure their inner ear, especially if your cat makes sudden movements.

Large Towel – After their bath, your cat will want to dry off right away. Make sure you have a large towel to wrap them in. The more absorbent the towel, the better.

Small Cloth – Your cat’s face is a sensitive area. Rather than washing it like the rest of their body, gently wipe their face using a washcloth or a small towel.

Bathing Your Cat

Once your cat’s nails are groomed and you have all your supplies, draw a bath or fill up the sink with three to five inches of warm water. You don’t want to submerge your kitten or cat in water like they’re going for a swim. Also, make sure the water isn’t hot or too cold; while hot water can irritate their skin, placing your cat in cold water can make for an uncomfortable experience.

Follow these next steps when the bath water is ready:

  • Gently place your cat in the water. If your cat tries to bite or scratch you as they are lowered into the tub, keep one hand on the scruff (back) of their neck. This makes it more difficult for your kitten or cat to turn their head and bite.

  • Apply a quarter-size amount of shampoo into your hands and lather. Apply more as needed, but just enough to get a few suds on their fur. Too much soap in their coat can take a long time to rinse, and your cat wants to be out of the bath as soon as possible.

  • Don’t shampoo their face. This is a sensitive area for our feline friends, so it’s best to take a washcloth or a small towel and wipe their face. Take care to avoid their eyes and nose.

  • Rinse your cat by pouring warm water over them with a cup or nozzle. While cats like running water, the force of the faucet can frighten them. Rinse thoroughly, until you can’t feel soap on their fur.

  • Wrap them in the large towel and begin patting them dry. Our feline friends don’t like getting wet because wet fur makes them feel weighed down, inhibiting their ability to jump and leap.

  • If your cat has a thick coat, you might need to use a hair dryer to get your feline friend completely dry. Because hair dryers frighten cats and apply too much heat to their skin, turn the hair dryer to the lowest setting and don’t keep it in the same spot on your cat’s fur for more than a fraction of a second.

  • With your cat wrapped in a towel, use the cotton balls to gently clean their ears. Your kitten or cat’s ears are also sensitive. Gently swab the inside of their ears, taking care not to poke their inner ear.

Although our cats will almost never need our help when it comes to grooming and washing, it’s always a good idea to know how to give your kitten or cat a bath at home. By knowing what to expect and having the right supplies, you can make bathing your cat an easier, more enjoyable experience for both of you.

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