How To Bathe Your Cat (And Survive!)

The thought of giving your cat a bath may give you chills, knowing the mix of your cats + its claws + water could be a recipe for disaster. However, washing your cat doesn’t have to be a horrifying experience, in fact many cats may even enjoy it! Keep reading to find out the best ways to create a stress free bathing experience.

Though you likely wouldn’t put the words “cat” and “bath” together in the same sentence, bathing a cat CAN be done – some actually like it and sometimes it’s a necessity. Since most cats are quite fastidious in their grooming practices there most likely won’t be many reasons why you would need to bath your cat, however, there are a few scenarios where you might find yourself needing to. These reasons can include:

Ringworm – Ringworm is actually a fungus rather than a worm, and depending on the severity of your cat’s case your vet may prescribe medicated baths.

Something on their coat – Your cat may have come in contact with a dangerous substance such as motor oil, tree sap, or household cleaning chemicals that need to be washed off ASAP!

Flea Infestations – Baths aren’t typically necessary if your cat has fleas due to newer flea treatments that kill fleas quickly, however in very bad infestations or cats that are allergic to fleas, baths may be beneficial and even necessary.

Elderly, Overweight or Arthritic Cats – Due to a number of factors such as these ones, some cats may be unable to groom themselves properly. Occasional baths to keep their coat and skin healthy may be necessary, and arthritic cats may even appreciate the experience as the warm water and massage which can actually feel quite good.

Tips for a Stress Free Bathing Experience:

  1. Timing – Scheduling baths when your cat is at his most mellow, perhaps after you’ve had a tiring play session.
  2. Clipped Claws – For your own protection, it is best to undertake the bath after they have had their claws trimmed.
  3. Non Slip Bathing – Placing a rubber mat in the sink or bath can be a huge help in stopping your cat from slipping.
  4. Warm Water – Fill a shallow bath with 5-10cm of warm/lukewarm water as it creates a more comfortable bath session.
  5. Shampoo – make sure you use a good quality cat shampoo, as human shampoo can dry out their skin.
  6. Head To Tail – massaging the shampoo in a gentle motion from their head to their tail in the direction of hair growth is best, take care and make sure to avoid the face, ears and eyes.
  7. Avoid the face – Avoid splashing water on your cats face and instead use a damp wash cloth to wipe their face down.
  8. Drying – once you have finished bathing your cat, wrap them in a towel and move them to a dry and warm place where you can try and dry as much water from their fur as possible. Some cats may even be able to tolerate a hair dryer on a low heat setting.
  9. Untangle – You may need to use a fine tooth comb to untangle any knots that may have occurred whilst washing your cat.
  10. Praise – finish off your bathing session by rewarding your cat with his favourite treat! And maybe next time your cat may find that bath time isn’t so bad after all!

If you are still struggling to bathe your cat after trying out these tips, then it is best to leave it to the professionals. Many pet grooming salons will offer cat washing and they will know the best way to keep your kitty calm during the process as well as offer services such as nail clipping, ear cleaning and fur trimming. Your local vet may also be able to help, however they will often use a general anaesthetic if they find that your cat is too hard to bathe.