How to Give a Cat a Bath

How to give a cat a bath!
Does your cat hate baths? Read this!

1.  Trim your cat’s nails.  This will help prevent your cat from hurting you if it tries to climb your arms to get out.

  • If your cat doesn’t like his nails trimmed, try doing it while the cat is asleep. 
  • Alternatively, have one person hold the cat and distract it while you trim the cat’s nails.
  • Make sure you don’t damage the quick of the nail.  Doing so is painful and can cause bleeding.

2.  Gather items you’ll need for the bath.

  • Cat shampoo.
  • Cup.
  • Comb.
  • Wash cloth.
  • Towel.
  • Any other medication your veterinarian instructed you to use during or after the bath.
  • Treats.

3.  Comb your cat’s fur.

  • This removes loose fur and debris. 
  • If you have to do a lime sulphur dip after the bath, combing before hand will also help prevent matting.

4.  Draw the bath.

  • Make the water warm.  If it’s too hot or cold, your cat will be uncomfortable and fight more.  Bath water cools over time.  If you have to use medicated shampoos that have to be left on for a while before rinsing, consider making the water a little warmer so that it isn’t too cold by the time the bath is done.  If your cat shivers, the water is probably too cold.  I always put my hand in the water to test the temperature; if it’s uncomfortable for me, I don’t put my cat in.  If you’re still unsure, ask your vet how warm it should be & grab a thermometer. 
  • Don’t make it too deep.  You don’t want to accidentally dunk your cat!  I usually run the bath about 4 or 5 inches deep; my cat could easily stand up, but the depth made it easier to saturate her coat.  I had a very difficult time saturating her coat by only pouring water over her, and she hated the shower head spraying.

Alternatively…  you could use a spray nozzle/shower head and not run a bath.  She tolerated a traditional bath a lot better than a shower.

5.  Get your cat and gently lower it into the bath.  Follow directions given on the shampoo bottle or by your vet.  Try to work quickly and carefully.  Keep a positive attitude.

  • You probably want to close the door just incase your cat gets away, so you don’t have to go chase a wet cat.
  • Face the cat away from you if you can or towards a wall.  That way it will be less inclined to try to jump out.
  • Praise your cat.  Try to make the bath a positive experience.

6.  Saturate the cat’s coat with water.

  • You can run your fingers through the fur and see if you’re getting all the way to the skin or if the fur underneath is still dry.  Some medicated shampoos need to reach all the way through the coat and get to the skin to be effective.

7.  Massage on the shampoo

  • Follow directions given by your veterinarian or on the cat shampoo bottle.  Some medicated shampoos have to be left on for 10 or 15 minutes, etc. 
  • Be careful not to get soap into the cat’s eyes or ears.  If you make your cat uncomfortable during the bath, it will probably fight you more next time.

8.  Rinse.

  • Rinse with the cup.  (Note: You could also use a shower head if your cat will tolerate it.)
  • If you had to shampoo near the eyes or ears, you can use the wet wash cloth to wipe/rinse away the soap without getting anything in the cat’s eyes/ears.

9.  Repeat as directed.  If at any point she tries to get out, gently hold her by the back of the neck and place her back down into the tub.

10.  Dry.

  • Take the cat out in a clean, dry towel.
  • You could try gently blow drying the cat’s fur, but just a towel seemed to work fine for my cat.

11.  Give your cat a treat.  If you make the bath a pleasant experience and reward your cat, it may fight less the next time.

I had to bathe my cat to treat her for ringworm.  She hated baths the first few times; she would meow, try to jump out, & try to climb out (leaving my arms scratched).  If I let go of her, she’d immediately jump out.  I increased the water temperature to be slightly warmer, started making the bathes faster, and always tried to make it a positive experience.  Now she loves it.  I have even left her in the bath while I answered the door and returned to see her still in the bath.

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