Five Tips for Bathing Your Cat and a How-To Guide

Five Tips for Bathing Your Cat and a How-To Guide

It’s time to give your cat a bath, whether this is the first time or a repeat experience, you can make the entire process easier. Pet grooming requires finesse, patience, and a few tips and tricks. We’re going to give you a step-by-step guide for bathing your cat that can make it a pleasant experience that your cat looks forward to.

Gather Your Equipment

Before you start anything, you have to gather all of your equipment. Once you get your cat in the sink or tub, you don’t want to have to leave halfway through because you forgot something. At the very least, you’ll want to have:

  • Brush
  • Cat-friendly shampoo
  • Comb
  • Pitcher or cup for rinsing
  • Rubber mat
  • Towels

If someone can help you, two hands are better than one. If not, it is possible to bathe your cat by yourself, but it can be tricky. The shampoo should be specially formulated for cats as well to keep their skin and coat healthy.

Bathing Your Cat – Step by Step

Now that you have all of your items ready to go, it’s time to find your cat and start the bathing process. If you follow these steps, you should be successful in this endeavor.

Step One – Catch Your Cat
The first thing you have to do is get your cat in the bathroom or area where you intend to bathe them. When you get your cat into this area, close the door to shut them in. Your cat is going to try and escape, and you don’t want to give them an easy route. Clip their nails and brush them out if they have longer fur to get rid of tangles.

Step Two – Fill the Bath
Put the rubber bath mat in the bottom of the tub or sink to prevent your cat from slipping. You should add around four inches of warm water into your bath or tub. Test the water before you put your cat in because you don’t want it too hot. Make sure you hold your cat with both hands to prevent them from escaping.

Step Three – Wet Your Cat’s Fur
Gently wet your cat’s fur without getting it into their face. After your cat’s fur is wet to the skin, gently pour shampoo on their body. You want to rub the shampoo into their fur and create a nice lather.

Step Four – Rinse
You want to rinse all the soap out of your cat’s fur. If you leave any residue, it can cause dry and flaky skin or a dull coat. Take your pitcher or cup and pour warm water over your cat until the water runs clear. This is how you’ll know all of the shampoo is out.

Step Five – Wash Your Cat’s Face
Take a washcloth and get it wet before wiping your cat’s face. Never spray water right into their face, and don’t submerge their face into the water. Make sure you get around their eyes.

Step Six – Dry
Now that your cat is clean take your cat out and wrap them in a towel. Put your cat in a draft-free, warm room to dry. If your cat tolerates the blow dryer, you can speed the process along and blow dry them. If you do use the blow dryer, put it on cool, and test the temperature. You don’t want to accidentally give your cat thermal burns.

Pet Grooming for Cats – Top Tips

If you’re worried about how your cat will react to the bath, there are several things you can do to make the process easier. These things include but are not limited to:

Tip One – Pick Your Time Wisely
Ideally, you want your cat to be relaxed and tired before you attempt to give them a bath. If you’re not sure when this is during the day, schedule a play session. Having your cat chase their toys around can tire out the most energetic feline. Once your cat is tired, they’re less likely to put up a fight.

Tip Two – Talk to Your Cat
Patience is the key to bathing your cat, and you want to talk to them throughout the process. Keep your voice calm, low, and soothing. Show them that the bath isn’t something to be afraid of, and reassure your cat that they’re safe. This can help keep them from panicking.

Tip Three – Trim Your Cat’s Claws
If your cat ever swiped you with their claws, you know how painful it can be. For your safety, you should clip your cat’s claws before you give them a bath. While this may not completely save you, it’ll reduce the chances you end the bathing session with a host of scratch marks.

Tip Four – Try the Bucket Method
If your cat won’t have anything to do with the larger tub, try the bucket method. Fill up two totes or buckets with a few inches of water. One bucket will be to wash your cat, and the other will be to rinse. You need two people for this because your cat has a greater risk of escaping.

Tip Five – Shower or Sink
Another option is to give your cat a bath in the shower or sink. You can follow the same steps we outlined above. Just make sure that you don’t soak your cat’s face in the process. A shower or sink is less intimidating than the bath, and your cat may tolerate it better.

Bottom Line

Giving your cat a bath doesn’t have to be a stressful process for either of you. With a little time, patience, and helpful tricks, you can turn bath time into an enjoyable experience that your cat looks forward to. If you still find yourself having difficulty bathing your cat even with these tips, you may want to speak with your veterinarian. Most veterinarians can safely sedate cats and shave, bathe, trim nails, etc. all while sedated, if needed. 

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Shallowford Animal Hospital and The Pet Spa at Shallowford are dedicated to the exceptional, compassionate care your pet deserves. Pets hold a very special place in our families, and we treat yours like our own.