To Bathe, Or Not To Bathe

There are some conflicting views on the issue of giving cats a bath. Usually there is no great reason to bathe your cat especially a short-haired indoor cat. Cats spend a large percentage of their days grooming themselves by using their rough, barbed tongues. To remove dirt, odor and the elements, they lick dirt and debris off their fur. Long-haired types may require the occasional bath if their fur gets too oily from climate conditions and the individual tendency of the skin of the cat. Breeds of hairless cats like sphynxes, should have a weekly bath, because their skin can get greasy and dirty. A bath for a cat may be a necessary experience if they get into some dirt or oil, or have an unfortunate encounter with a skunk, heaven forbid!

cat licking AIt’s actually a myth that all cats do not like to be in water. Well, I suppose there are cats out there that will never allow a bath, but interestingly so, there are some that will accept the occasional bath and some that actually love it. Below are some basic preparation and steps to bathing your cat.




Have these items ready for your cat’s bath, as you do not want to have to run for a forgotten supply, after the bath has commenced:

  • Cat-friendly shampoo
  • Comb
  • Towels
  • Brush -for long haired cats
  • Pitcher or pouring container for rinsing
  • Rubber mat to prevent slipping in basin
  • A friends to help you

Your choice in cat shampoo will depend on the needs of your cat. If it has ultra sensitive skin and coat, a vet prescribed product may be in order. It is wise to follow the directions carefully. Make sure to use a good quality “tearless”, cat shampoo to prevent irritation on your feline’s body or sting his/her eyes. A good product is Only Natural Pet, Easy Defense Herbal Shampoo which is safe and gentle.

Steps to Bathing Your Cat

Step 1

Fill the sink or tub with approximately four inches of warm water. Be sure to check the water temperature before placing kitty into the bath as you certainly don’t want to burn your animal friend.

Step 2

Catch your cat! A cat who enjoys baths will no doubt cooperate and will go willingly into the bathroom, or wherever you are choosing to clean up. On the other hand others who are new to the procedure will be terrified and try to flee, sensing that something’s up. It’s best to be in a room with a door that closes to prevent an escape in a soapy, sudsy form. And remember to keep your cool, speaking softly and sweetly, so as to not stress out your cat.

While using both hands with a firm grip, gently and slowly lower your cat into the basin. Meowing and yowling at this point are normal. Just continue moving forward.

Step 3

If you would like to cover the cat’s ears with a kitty shower cap, and the cat will tolerate it, it can be put on before wetting the cat. Thoroughly wet your cat’s fur, avoiding your the face as much as possible. The saturation should be down all the way to the skin of the animal. At this point, gently apply some, not too much, shampoo on the skin and begin to rub and massage it into the fur creating a good lather in the process. You may want to use a soft toothbrush for a deeper scrub if needed.

Set 4

After a thorough lather and wash, it is now time to rinse off the suds. This can be achieved with using warm water poured out from a pitcher or by using a hand-held faucet nozzle with mild pressure. Thoroughly rinse off all of the soap. Do not leave any residue. If you do not completely rinse the cat from the soap an irritation could flare up on the skin, causing stomach problems.

Step 5

As a final cleansing step, you may want to wash your cat’s face. This can be simply done with a warm wash cloth without any soap added. A gentle motion will give him or her a stimulating massage. And it goes without saying that you should never spray you cat’s face with water or solution, or force dunk any cat’s head or face under water.

Step 6

After the above steps have been completed remove your sparkling clean feline from the basin and wrap him or her in a clean warm towel. Make sure there are no drafts and there is adequate licking b

Blow drying your cat’s fur is an option, but runs a risk of scarring the animal with the noise from the machine. Safely blow dry on a low, low setting, to prevent burns on the sensitive skin. It’s best to skip this all together if the entire bathing episode has been a trying one for the cat. Once your feline buddy is completely dry, give him or her a nice brushing or combing of the fur.

Completing the Ritual

It is perfectly normal for the cat to start licking its fur immediately after you’ve finished all your hard work!

Bathing one’s cat is not for everyone. Keeping calm is key to help your furry pal through the process. Talk in a soothing, sweet voice of reassurance. This will help you get through the steps and will create a positive experience to allow future bathing. Introducing the bathing ritual at an early age also makes things easier for an adult cat.




Do you bathe your cats regularly? Tell your stories in the comments below. Thanks for reading



8 thoughts to “To Bathe, Or Not To Bathe”

  1. I have a shorthair indoor cat who’s 15 years old. She hasn’t had a bath in probably 8 years? And the other times were only because she caught fleas from an outdoor cat…and yeah. I’m not so fortunate to have a cat who likes being bathed. “Not likes” is putting it mildly…and the hairdryer would probably give her a heart attack, especially given how much she “loves” the vacuum. But, I’m one of the lucky ones – she spends most of the day grooming herself. If I ever get a long-hair or no-hair cat, these will be helpful tips for their routine, so thank you!

    1. Thanks for sharing your situation, Penny. I completely know what you are saying about choosing to not bathe your cat. It all depends on lifestyle and what the cat can handle. I have never met a cat yet, who enjoys a bath. And you are so right about the hairdryer. It must sound like a construction zone to a cat. Glad you found the post helpful.

  2. Thanks for the good info. I tried to bath my cat once and about got clawed to pieces as I got her close to the water. Perhaps I will try again. If that does not work out then I guess she is just one of those that does not like water

    1. Oh dear. I am sure it is intimidating to try another shot at bathing your cat. Nothing wrong with not giving her a bath. I always marvel at the cats that just love being in the water. None of mine like it either. Thanks for reading.

  3. I knew you could bathe cats! lol. I have been really scared to give our cat a bath due to a bad experience when I was a kid as well as the “myth” of it all. Thanks to this post and most especially that video, I will now try to give our cat a bath. She might not like it, but I think her tongue can only do so much. Thanks for this!

  4. You are a braver woman than I if you bathe your cat solo! I’d never attempt this without an assistant, no matter how chill the cat is. What kind of shampoo do you recommend?

    1. Shirley, I recommend Only Natural Pet Easy Defense Herbal Shampoo. It has no sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate, or parabens, has organic ingredients and is cruelty free. There is also an accompanying conditioner and spray. Thanks for your question.

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