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CLEAN CAT, HAPPY HOME - The Art of Feline Bathing

Updated: Mar 22


Many owners are reluctant to bathe a cat, especially an adult if they are not familiar with bathing from early kittenhood.  However, with the right approach and a positive attitude on the part of the bather, the experience may not turn out as challenging as expected.


  • Before beginning the bathing procedure, trim the cat’s nails to minimize scratching.  Additionally, remove any tangles or mats from its fur. 

  • Persuade/bribe someone to help you.  This is really a two-man job.

  • Collect all the necessary supplies before you start.

  • A bottle of cat-friendly shampoo is essential.  You should not use human shampoos as they can be too harsh on a cat’s skin.

  • A non-slip mat for inside the bathtub or sink really helps;

  • A cup, or better yet, a sprayer for wetting and rinsing your cat.  You can purchase an attachment that goes on the end of your faucet that dispenses the soap along with the water.

  • A favourite toy for reassurance or maybe something good to eat. 


I am not above bribery if that is going to make things better.  It has been my experience that no cat is ever really in the mood to have a bath and that toys and treats do not appease them.  Even the cats who are not that bothered by what has just happened are more interested in licking themselves and trying to get dry.

Select a quiet room with a door, such as a bathroom, if possible.  Depending on how you feel, either the sink with its surrounding counter space or the bathtub is a good location.  The best time for bathing usually will be right after a nap or a meal when the cat tends to be more mellow.  Exercising the cat to run off some of his energy does not help.  Exercise only seems to rev them up.  Before bringing the cat into the room, ensure you have enough water poured.  If you have another cat, it is best not to have it in the room while the bathing is being done, as this can complicate things.

Gently wet the cat’s fur using a cup or spray; avoiding the head area.

While one person holds the cat, the other should apply a small amount of shampoo on their hands and gently massage it into the fur; starting at the neck and working down. Be careful around the face, eyes and ears.  It might be better to use a damp cloth to clean these areas. 

Finish off the bath by thoroughly rinsing the fur with warm water.  It is crucial to remove all traces of shampoo, as any left in the fur can cause irritation later on.

Wrap the cat in a towel and gently pat it dry, moving it several times to a dry spot to absorb as much moisture as possible.  Avoid rubbing, as this can cause tangles and discomfort.  If your cat will tolerate the noise, you can try using a hair dryer set on low and warm.

Once you have finished the drying, offer some toys or a few treats.  Don’t forget a lot of praise.  Even a mad cat still likes to hear how good and brave it is and how handsome it looks.


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