How to Wash A Cat

Most cat owners will agree that washing a cat can be an interesting experience, but it does not have to be an awful one for you or the cat.

First, decide where to bath the cat. A room with a door that can be closed is the best in case they get away from you.

Second, gather all of your supplies and have them close by the tub or sink area you will be bathing in. Your supplies should include pet shampoo and conditioner, a sponge or soft washcloth, two or three big, fluffy towels, a pitcher or sprayer attachment for rinsing.

Begin by wetting your cat’s coat down significantly, add shampoo to your hands and massage it into the coat. Do not wash your cat’s face just the body. Rinse well and more than once till the water runs clear. Do not leave any shampoo residue as that can irritate your cat’s skin. Apply the conditioner in the same manner again remembering to rinse well.

When you are finished, use the washcloth or sponge with just water to wash your cat’s face. Pay special attention to around the cat’s eyes. Rinse the cloth or sponge frequently throughout.

After the cat is completely rinsed off from head to tail, place them in the first towel to absorb the water. Use the remaining towels to continue to dry them off. The result – one clean cat!


  1. Don’t constantly run the water while giving your cat a bath, the sound and vibrations on the tub or sink will make them nervous and more likely to fight you.

  2. If you have someone that can help you, have them put the towels in the dryer for 5-10 minutes right before you need them. Test the temperature on your own arms before using them on the cat so you don’t burn them. But the cat will love the warmth from the towels and be more relaxed.

  3. Always talk quietly and gently to your cat during a bath. If you’re yelling at them or harsh with them, they will equate bath time with being in trouble and your job will be that much harder.

  4. Put down a non-skid mat or fold a towel in the bottom of the tub. The slippery feeling of the porcelain will leave them nervous and skittish.

  5. You can use a hair dryer to dry your cat, but set it on the lowest setting and keep it moving so you don’t burn them. It is helpful to keep your hand in the dryer air as well so you can judge the heat reaching your cat.

  6. You might consider long sleeves it your cat is not declawed. The less skin the cat’s claws can connect with the better. It’s also a good idea to trim their nails before you start. The less ammunition they have, the better for you.

  7. Try to wash your cat on a hot day, 70’s and above. If it is cold outside and you absolutely have to give them a bath, try to keep them inside for at least 12 hours. This will give them time to regulate their body temperature again.

  8. Try to keep the water out of your cat’s ears. Don’t pour water over their heads and don’t soap up too close to their ears. Use just a wet cloth and gently clean around the ear.

  9. Don’t forget the kitty treats and lots of praise after the bath!

  10. Hey friends!

    It’s a good idea to bring some toys with her for bath time. I did it and it was good. I had no problem washing kitty… and remember to dry her right after you give her the bath. Don’t forget to give her whatever she likes as a prize!

  11. I asked my vet about this and they said that you don’t need to give a cat a bath like you do a dog! So A+!

  12. Just fill up the BATHTUB, with shower doors, with warm water, have someone available to keep those doors closed and get ready. Make sure that someone has a big towel and have the Suave shampoo ready, and a big plastic glass!
    Grab the terrorized kitty (because he knows what’s comin’) by his paws, two in each hand, climb in the bathtub, and have that someone close the doors. Try to keep the kitty in the middle of the tub. Wash all of the areas with a LITTLE of the shampoo except his head. Rinse. Gently wash his head with your hand or washcloth and then hand him off to that someone with the towel. Recover by taking a cool shower! Your cat will resist much more than a quick toweling and will be upset for only a few minutes. Or, perhaps we have a wonderfully mellow cat!

  13. Fill the bathtub with warm water. Put the cat in. Give the cat some treats so it doesn’t get worried. Gently stroke the cat while someone else washes her. Keep on saying good girl/boy in a calm voice.

  14. Karenality says:

    I feel they should sell one full suit of armor with every purchase of a bottle of cat shampoo at the pet store! *LOL* Bathing a kitty… claws or no claws… can be quite a challenging endeavor. I’ve had cats all my life and every now and then they need a good bathing. Especially with flea shampoo during the summer months when those pesky critters become infested, no matter how well the Frontline works!

    Take care… GOOD ARTICLE!!

  15. If your kitty insists on fighting you, use this tip my sister/zookeeper gave me. Hold the scruff of their neck firmly, just barely lifting them off the ground. Their back feet should be just touching the floor. They should instinctively relax, like a kitten would when mama cat carries them. If one person holds the cat, one hand on the scruff, the other holding the butt, a second person can wash them/trim claws. You might want to give them a few hairball preventative treats, as they will be grooming like crazy for the next couple of days.

  16. Open the toilet lid and add some soap. Then, drop the cat in, close the lid and stand on it. Flush the toilet several times, then open the lid and stand back!

  17. If the cat stops grooming itself due to age or illness, you can do this for the cat by getting your hands a bit wet and stroking the cat. The loose hair will eventually accumulate on your hands. Rub your hands together to get the hair to roll and stick together and throw it away. When you first start this routine, don’t get your hands overly wet – cats don’t typically like water. As the cat gets into routine, you can get your hands a bit more wet and the cat will not mind (don’t get your hands extremely wet, you will be petting your cat an awful long time to get results).

  18. People believe that a nice WARM bath feels good to our pets. It does not. The grooming places use cold or barely tepid water. This seems cruel; it is not. Putting an animal in bath water that feels good to us is cruel. This is true especially with cats. Anything more than barely tepid water will make them freak. It seems weird, but go for the cold. Also for fleas, the groomers use lemon Dawn, on both cats and dogs. The dogs have a diluted solution of Pine Sol for a rinse. Result: dead fleas. Do not pine sol a cat. The lemon Dawn is fine, just don’t wash their heads. Use a wash cloth to clean kitties’ faces. Most cats are terrified of water. Giving them a bath is a nightmare, but sometimes must be done.

  19. Cassandra says:

    Am I the only person who bathes with my cat when he needs a bath? I find he’s much less freaked out by the water when he sees I’m in it too, and has my whole body for support rather than just my hands. After I’m done my bath, if he needs one too, I have my partner bring him in. I just rest him on my legs or belly above the water until he gets used to the idea, and slowly lower him in. The water is cooler by this time (just below body temperature), and there is leftover bubble bath/ soap in the water from my bath to clean him without applying cleaners. When we’re done, I pull the shower curtain closed, we rinse off with the detachable shower head, and my partner brings towels for us both. We generally cuddle under a blanket on the couch until he’s dry enough from the towel to jump out and lick himself dry.

  20. Melanie says:

    According to the ASPCA, lemon is toxic to both cats and dogs. That is why the smell of lemon often sends cats running away; not ideal when bathing a cat is already so difficult. Blue Dawn would be a better choice.
    On the Safety page of the Pine-Sol website, it says, “Is it safe to use Pine-Sol® cleaners around pets? Yes, all Pine-Sol® products are recommended for use in pet areas. Read reviews, including some from other pet owners, Here. Please note that we do not recommend using Pine-Sol® products as a pet shampoo.”

    Source: ASPCA – Lemons
    Source: Pine-Sol – Pine-Sol Safety

  21. I am lucky to have quite a calm cat. I bathe him in the sink and he mostly just sits there and looks at me with a ‘how much longer till this is over’ expression. I douse him from head to tail and toes, leave the water running, lather up both hands and scrub him down- including his belly. He lets me lift his front paws to give me better access. Then, I rinse him off and turn him into a wet kitty burrito for a bit until he wants to be put down and re-wash himself. It’s cute. He snuggles me after and purrs a lot.

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