How to Bathe Your Cat

I’ve been a cat lover/owner for several years. Most of my felines hate water. That’s what makes a small spray bottle of tap water so efficient in training them to stay off the dining room table, or off the kitchen counters. But a few of them actually like water. They like to play in water in the bathroom sink. Or, they like to jump up, walk around the perimeter of the bathtub, and dip their paws in the water while a family member’s trying to bathe.

But, even though some domestic cats like to play in the water, they don’t relish being placed in a tub of water and washed. So, whenever there comes a time when you have to bathe your cat- flea infestation, entering them in a cat show, or just because they got muddy or dirty- you’ll need to know the best way to do it.

I prefer to bathe my cats in the bath tub. It gives me more room to work in. Plus, I can shut the door and keep them contained in that room. (Have you ever seen a wet cat or dog run through a house? They don’t leave anything dry!)

Before I bathe any of my felines, I first collect the things I’ll need. These include: two old bath towels, kitty shampoo, a large plastic cup, and a rubber mat. Place the rubber mat in the bottom of your bath tub so your cat can’t slide around and become even more scared.

Close the drain plug in your bathtub and add two or three inches of warm water.

In the meantime, pick up your cat and pet him or her. Talk to them and get them relaxed. Then, take them in the bathroom and close the door. From this point on, I don’t mess around. The faster I can get my feline bathed- while still being gentle- the better off we’ll both be!

I then carefully place my cat in the bath water and begin to wet its fur. I have a shower sprayer on a long hose, but my cats hate the sound of the water spraying, so I don’t use it. But, a shower sprayer is actually better to use than a plastic cup, if your cats will tolerate it. I have to use a large plastic cup to pour water over their fur.

All the time, keep talking softly and reassuring your cat. Once their fur is thoroughly wet, pour a dab of shampoo into your hand. Begin by washing and lathering the back of their neck and then go down their back. I’ve found that using my hand works better than a sponge or rag. And, at the same time I’m bathing my cat, I can feel for bumps or unusual growths on their skin. This is especially important with older felines.

Keep adding more dabs of shampoo to your cat’s fur as you progress down their body. After you have washed their neck, back, and tail, carefully lift up their feet- one at a time, of course- and wash their legs and paws.

Then, I wash the underside of my cat’s neck and work my way down across their chest and tummy. After your cat is lathered and washed, you can place some of the lather on top of their head. You’ll have to be especially careful not to get the soap in their eyes or mouth. Then, bathe their ears and face.

I begin the rinsing process with a soft old rag. I unstop the bath tub to allow the water to run out. While that’s happening, I wet a rag with clean, warm tap water to wipe around my cat’s eyes, mouth, and head. This removes most of the shampoo lather from these sensitive areas.

Finally, you can use a shower sprayer or a large plastic cup to start rinsing your kitty off. You’ll have to gently hold their head back with one hand while you rinse by using the other hand. This will help keep the water out of your cat’s eyes while you’re rinsing off their front part.

Once you have thoroughly rinsed your cat, take your hand and pet it firmly from its head to its tail a few times. This will help remove the excess water. If you need to use conditioner on your cat, now is the time to do it.

Then, rinse the conditioner out and wrap up your kitty in one of the old bath towels.

I pat and rub down my cat until its fur is pretty much dry. Depending on the size of the cat and the thickness of the fur, you may need to use two towels to get the job done. A hair dryer and a cat comb makes this step go easier and quicker, if your cat will tolerate it. Mine take off when they hear the sound of a dryer running, so it’s not an option here.

And, finally, make sure you gently dry out your cat’s ears.

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