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August 12th, 2020 | 0 min read

How to Survive Giving Your Cat a Bath

Written by
Sharilyn Vera
How to Survive Giving Your Cat a Bath

Alright, so the time has come. Your cat has gotten into a bit of a mess and you need to give them a cat bath. It’s not gonna be a nice kitty walk in the park for the cat or you as a pet owner. But with some patience, perseverance, and a good pair of gloves, you can bathe your cat! 

But wait, do cats need baths? If so, how often should the bathing happen for a domestic cat, indoor cat, and an outdoor cat alike? 

Well, the good news is, your feline friend probably does not need a regular bathing routine. In fact, most cats don’t need baths. They groom themselves by licking to get their long hair clean and to get the dead hair off.

However, there are some circumstances in which you might have to get your hands dirty to get your cat's claws and paws clean. For example, if your cat has long hair, if your longhaired cat rolls into something sticky or smelly in those hard to reach areas, or if they roll into something that could potentially be toxic to them. If any of those are the case, you should definitely consider a bath. 

Note: If they’ve gotten themselves into something that could harm them, a trip to the vet first is most important!

Okay, so let’s say your cat falls into the category of, “got into a sticky mess”. Let’s take a look at everything you’ll need: 

  • Cat shampoo (or kitten shampoo). Preferably a pet shampoo with no harsh chemicals. If you have ever wondered “What can I give my cat for allergies?”, make sure that you pick a good shampoo!
    • NOTE: Don’t use human shampoo, our hair just isn’t the same as the fur on our cat's body. Just like a good cat diet, pick a natural shampoo made specifically for cats.
  • A cat conditioner if necessary.
    •  NOTE: No human conditioner either.
  • A bathtub lined with a non-slip mat, sink, or bucket. 
    • NOTE: it might be a little easier for you to bathe them in a sink because you’ll be standing instead of on your knees. 
  • A brush (non-metal).
  • A small cloth (for their small face).
  • A small bucket, or detachable nozzle that doesn’t spray hard.
  • A towel or two.
  • Rubber gloves (this can be optional, but it’s to protect you from scratches if things get rowdy)

Okay, we’re ready to go! Take a deep breath and make sure you (and your cat) are in a good mood. You got this! 

Step 1: Fill the bathtub or sink with a couple inches of warm water. 

Step 2: Wet your cat everywhere below their head and gently apply shampoo to your cat’s fur. 

Step 3: Give a little scrub all over, and rinse your cat’s coat thoroughly. Conditioner is optional, but if it’s used, remember to rinse thoroughly as well so nothing is left on the cat’s skin

Step 4: Use the damp washcloth to gently clean their head, face, and behind the cat’s ear 

Step 5: Rise their body 

Step 6: Bring your cat into a towel and wrap them up in it. Optional: give them a little smooch while you’re at it. 

Step 7: Get as much water off their fur as you can.

Step 8: Give them a treat for participation points! 

NOTE: Some long-haired cat owners use a hairdryer, but most cats won’t tolerate the noise. For one of our better cat tricks, if you and your cat are up for the hairdryer, make sure to put it on the lowest setting. 

If this sounds too stressful for you and your cat, don’t worry! You have options. Although it will be slightly more expensive, you can bring your cat to a groomer, veterinarian, or pet care clinic. There is even such a thing as mobile pet grooming (fancy)!

Remember, it’s likely that your cat doesn’t need a bath, even if it is an outdoor cat! However, if they do, no matter which grooming route you go, your cat will thank you for it in the long run! 

Written by
Sharilyn Vera

Sharilyn is a proud cat owner, long time storyteller and researcher. Her work spans beloved podcasts, television shows, media outlets, and independent documentaries. She likes to strike a balance between education and comedy, which you can hopefully tell when you read her articles!