Your cat is dirty, and you know she needs a bath. Groomers are expensive, and you don’t want to put out the extra cash. It’s actually easy to bathe your cat at home, as long as you prepare in advance and keep a few basic things in mind.
Although some breeds like maine coons or turkish vans love the water, many cats find baths to be a stressful experience. It’s best if you can start bathing your cat young and get them used to it, but even if you have an older cat that has never been bathed, it can be done without trauma to you or the cat. If your cat is older and has never been bathed, or if you think your cat is going to have a problem with it, it might be best to have a helper. Prepare everything from the temperature of the water to shampoo and towels ahead of time, and remember to stay calm!
Giving Your Cat A Bath: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Brush the mats and dirt from your cat’s hair. Just like dogs, mats won’t come out if you get them wet.
- Use cat specific shampoos, especially if you’re bathing for fleas. Dog flea shampoo can be toxic to your cat, and people shampoos dry out your cat’s skin and can make them itchy and irritable.
- Run 4 to 5 inches of warm water into your bathtub.
- Gently place your cat into the tub, and using a cup or hose attachment, wet their body with warm water. As with dogs, you’ll want to avoid bathing the head area and only focus on the fur from their neck to their tail. After your cat is thoroughly wet, lather the cat’s body with the shampoo, making sure to lather their underside as well.
- Rinse your cat’s body, again avoiding the head area. Rinse until you can’t feel shampoo in the cat’s hair anymore.
- Wrap your cat in a towel to absorb the water, and then use another towel to gently dry. Don’t attempt to use a hair dryer on your cat, as the heat is too hot for a cat’s sensitive skin (not to mention the scary sounds!) If he has long hair, just use another towel and get him as dry as you can.
- Last but not least, be sure to give kitty some treats and praise after the ordeal is over! Cat baths are tough on both cats and their humans, and you’ll want them to associate good feelings with getting baths in the future!
Remember: With a little practice and some preparation, grooming at home can be easier, less stressful, and less costly than taking them to a professional groomer.
FAQ About Cat Baths
Is it OK to give your cat a bath?
Lucky for cat owners, it’s estimated that cats spend anywhere from 30-50% of their time self grooming. This makes giving them baths usually unnecessary, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never need to give them a bath! If your cat is a show cat or becomes unreasonably sticky or smelly, it may be time for a bath. Obese cats also have difficulty self grooming due to limited reach and mobility, and may need a bath to reach their lower back/rear areas. If someone in your home suffers from cat allergies, bathing the cat will help reduce the dander in it’s fur.
How often should you bathe your cat?
Although there is no set schedule for cat bathing, your cat probably doesn’t need to be bathed more than once a month. Any more than that can dry out and irritate her skin.
Where should I bathe my cat?
A bathtub can be a great place for a larger or adult cat. Kittens and smaller cats may feel more comfortable in a small tub or kitchen/bathroom sink.
My cat was sprayed by a skunk, help!
If your cat was sprayed by a wayward skunk, try to give them a bath as quickly as possible. The longer the skunk’s secretions dry on kitty’s skin and fur, the harder the scent will be to remove! Although commercial sprays and shampoos are available, try this DIY skunk smell solution from our friends at Dogtime.
Last Tips for Bathing Cats
- It might be a good idea to make sure your cat’s nails are trimmed/not sharp before bathing it. Although all efforts should be made to keep the cat calm during it’s bath, chances are it may become upset and scratch you. Trim their nails ahead of time to protect the sensitive skin on your arms!
- Keep soaps, cups and other materials within arm’s distance of where you’ll be bathing your cat
- Consider putting a towel in the tub or sink to help give your kitty some grip, this will help reduce their stress level and chance of injury
- If your cat has long hair, try diluting the shampoo first before giving it a bath. This will help the shampoo get down to the end of their hair follicle