How to Bathe Your Cat

Cats do a decent job of grooming themselves, but there are a few occasions when a bath is in order.

Bathing, brushing/combing, and clipping nails are the three most important ways you can help your cat stay well groomed. It is a common misconception that cats do not need a bath at all, but they do.

  • Cats with extremely short coats like Siamese, Burmese, Cornish and Devon Rex can get along with few or no baths.
  • Longhaired cats and other shorthairs with dense coats need to be bathed every 1-3 months.
  • Persians should be bathed at least once a month. If you establish good grooming habits early on in your cat's life, the more agreeable she will be to it throughout her life.

What you’ll need

  1. Two small washcloths; one for washing head and face area and the other for soaping the body, plus two large towels for drying.
  2. A large cup for pouring water.
  3. Shampoo: Cat shampoos are developed to work specifically with a cat's skin and coat. Do not use shampoo made for humans, or for any other pet for that matter.
  4. A two-quart container for final rinse.
  5. Cotton balls for cleaning ears. BE GENTLE! Just clean wax from the outer area of the ear.

Once you have assembled your tools, make sure the bathing room is warm and the bath water is tepid. Sometimes it helps to put an extra towel or a rubber bath mat at the bottom of the sink so the cat won't slip. A hand sprayer makes the job of rinsing the body coat much easier too.

The 6-step bath

  1. Pour tepid water over the coat until the coat is wet down to the skin.
  2. Apply a small amount of shampoo to one washcloth and lather your cat's body from the neck to the tail.
  3. Rinse THOROUGHLY – this may take a few moments.
  4. With a longhaired breed you might want to use a coat conditioner.
  5. Rinse one last time with clear water.
  6. Drain the sink and wipe the face with a damp washcloth and no shampoo.  Be careful to avoid the eyes.

Use large towels to remove as much water as possible and then set the cat up in a warm room until the coat is fully dry. If your cat is a longhair, brush as soon as you've hand-dried the cat to prevent the coat from matting.