How to Bathe a Cat Like a Pro

By on February 6, 2013

Hell hath no fury like a wet cat. - Anyone who has had to bathe a cat

If there's one thing a cat hates more than an empty food bowl or the dog next door, it's a bath.

How to Bathe a Cat Like a Pro Bathing a cat should never be taken lightly. Every time you fill the bathtub and call your kitty's name, you know very well that you're risking a trip to the emergency room. Every cat owner would love to be able to truthfully utter the words, "I've never had to give my cat a bath," but sometimes it's necessary to put your cat - and yourself - through the agony of water. Cats don't usually need to be bathed in the conventional sense. However, there are unique situations where you need to put on some armor and step into the battle zone also known as the bathroom and withstand your cat's teeth, claws, and ear-splitting screams. Some of the most common reasons to bathe your cat include:

  •   Obesity. Some obese cats can't clean themselves well, so you need to step in and give them a thorough cleansing.
  •   Age. Some young kittens and older cats need to be bathed because they're too inexperienced or sick to clean themselves.
  •   Skin problems. Your cat might have dandruff or a skin rash that cannot be treated with anything other than medicated shampoo.
  •   Foreign substances. Your cat could get something on himself that he cannot lick off. It could be something thick like tree sap or tar, or it could be a poisonous substance, like weed killer or anti-freeze.

To a cat, a bath is a traumatizing experience. That's why it's important to go the extra mile to ensure that your cat has the best experience possible. That way, your cat will be less likely to murder you in your sleep.

Comb your cat's hair thoroughly.

If you remove knots and tangles before bathing your cat, you'll have an easier time washing his fur.

Trim your cat's nails.

You don't want to come out of the bathroom needing stitches, so make sure to clip his nails.

Let your cat walk around or relax.

When you're preparing the bath, you want your cat to unwind from the traumatic pre- bath grooming session. Make sure to keep him within sight, because some cats - especially experienced ones - would run and hide upon hearing running water.

Fill the tub with 4 or 5 inches of warm water.

Cats are more sensitive to temperature changes than we are. If the water's too hot, your cat's paws will hurt. If the water's too cold, the cat will feel more uncomfortable than he already is. You don't want to completely submerge your cat in water, so 4 to 5 inches is a good depth for adult cats.

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Open the cat shampoo bottle. Hang a towel nearby. Put a plastic cup in the tub. Remove anything the cat could knock down in his ballistic state, long hair and dangling jewelry included. Put on a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of rubber gloves, if necessary. Your goal is to have your cat in and out of the tub in as little time as possible, so you want to be fully prepared before you…

Bring your cat into the bathroom.

Talk to your cat in a calm, quiet voice the whole time. Be gentle and soothing. When you put him in the tub, hold him down by the neck or shoulders.

Bathe your cat!

Use the plastic cup to soak your cat from the neck down. Shampoo his neck, body, legs, belly, and tail until he's completely clean, and then use the plastic cup to rinse him off. Make sure you remove all the soap from the cat's coat before letting him claw his way out of the tub.

Dry your cat.

Right now, your cat's completely ballistic. Wrap him with the towel and rub him gently. This will put him in a calm and safe state. Some cats enjoy a heat source and a dry towel to sit on. A space heater or a warm air vent would do the trick.

Reward your cat.

Thank your cat for being such a trooper! Give him catnip, his favorite treat, or a new toy. He'll eventually catch on that there is at least a silver lining to being dipped in water.

Chiara Fucarino
Chiara Fucarino
Contributing Writer at
A proud resident of the pristine High Rockies, Chiara Fucarino happily spends her days writing in front of a breathtaking view of the mountains. When she's not crafting words, Chiara cooks innovative meals, embarks on scenic hikes, travels to exciting new places, hangs out with domesticated animals, and takes her motorcycle out for a spin.

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