How To Bathe A Cat- Cleaning Your Kitty

clean the cat
(Last Updated On: June 24, 2020)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that they don’t wash their cat. Because, well, the cat washes itself. It makes sense considering that kittens learn to lick themselves early on, but your cat can’t get every piece of dirt.

If they’ve fallen somewhere dirty, or even if you want your cat to get used to being touched by someone like a vet, bathing your cat can be a great idea. The only problem is actually doing it, which is why you can look here for some tips.

Supplies and Preparation Before Bathing Your Cat

You can train or discipline your cat. Before you stick your cat in the water, it helps to have everything you need immediately available to you. Grab your supplies then, including a grooming shampoo for cats, grooming brush, some towels, a rubber mat, a washcloth, and some kind of floating object to distract your cat with.

And yes, do make sure that you have actual cat shampoo. Human shampoo isn’t made for your cat’s skin, and dog shampoo won’t work in a pinch either. You’ll be better off just using water rather than a product that isn’t specifically made for your cat.

Pre-Bath Prep

You have your items, and now it’s time to grab your cat. You can make the whole bath experience that much better if you prep your cat just a little bit before you start the bath.

First, begin with trimming your cat’s claws. (Average cost to declaw a cat) You should try to do this a few hours or at least a few days before the bath to give your cat time to calm down, but trimming their nails will save you a lot of pain if they get antsy in the tub.


This is a very important step that we often forget but definitely brush your cat. This will help remove any tangles in the fur, or any extra fur that your cat is already shedding. You can also use that brush in the tub if your cat likes the brush to help calm them down.

Prep the Bathroom

It is important to get your bathroom prepared for what’s coming too. Once you have your cat with you, close the bathroom door. This will prevent your cat from leaving and keep other pets out. Do keep your toilet seats down so that there’s no panic.

And make sure any litter boxes are out of the bathroom to prevent any mess. Using a rubber mat at the bottom of the tub will help make it more secure, too, while having towels outside of the tub will keep you dry too.

Getting in the Water

Now, here’s the important part: getting your cat into the water. Making your cat actually want to bathe can be difficult, but start by tiring your cat out before you get them close. This will ensure that they’re more mellow and less likely to bite and scratch to try and get away.

Before you actually start the running water too, place some cat toys in the empty tub. Get your cat comfortable by playing a little with them in the tub. Add a tiny bit of water before playing again. Slowly fill the tub while playing so that your cat feels comfortable.

Proper Cat Bathing Process

Now it’s time to bathe your cat. First off, if you are bathing a small cat or kittens, don’t use your whole tub. You can do the same prep, but use a double sink or a few large roasting bags instead.

Fill whatever your container is with some warm water before gently lowering your cat into it. While you may be used to a shower beating down at you, your cat will not like the feeling of being sprayed. Your cat still might try to climb out, and let them get on their hind legs as you wet their fur.


You don’t need to keep your cat confined to the water at all times. You can actually lift your cat out of the water while you apply the shampoo. Do be sure not to put any shampoo on your cat’s face either and only use water.

Once your cat is lathered, dip them back into the water to get some soap off. You can pour some water over their back to help get the rest of the water off before rinsing them again.

Pour Method

You can definitely dunk your cat if they’re small and easy to lift, but you might want to use a ladle to help pour water over your kitty. You can also use a nozzle like you’d see in your sink, but keep a close eye on your cat if you do this, and be sure never to spray your cat in the face.

Drying Off

After you’re done, wrap up your cat in a clean and dry towel. Your shorthaired cat will dry pretty quickly, but you might need a couple of towels to help blot away the water from longhaired felines.

Keeping Control

In all of this, do make sure that you maintain control of your cat. Talk to them in a calm, quiet voice, and potentially use a harness to help keep them steady while you’re bathing. It might also help if you have someone else with you to help gently hold the cat while you wash.

But if all of this is too difficult or your cat is just having a lot of trouble, think about looking into a professional groomer to help you out. Using a professional might save you a lot of stress in the end.


Yes, you should still bathe your cat even though your cat is perfectly able to clean itself. Bathing your cat can help keep it clean and with good skin and fur, two things that your cat can’t quite do on its own.

If you’re worried about your cat struggling, follow some of our tips to get them in and out quickly. In the event, it really is too tough, try reaching out to a groomer to give your cat the least stressful experience possible.

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