How to Bathe a Cat in 4 Steps | Pet PRO Advice

How to Bathe a Cat in 4 Steps

For cat owners, “Bath Time” does not usually bring up any good feelings. An important step before you begin is to take a moment to relax. The calmer you are, the easier it will be to give your cat a bath. Moreover, below are 4 steps for how to bathe a cat. They are in chronological order and include sub-steps for you to understand everything. Additional tips for how to bathe a cat are included at the end.

1. Prepare Your Cat

How to Bathe a Cat

  1. Make sure that your cat is comfortable with the bathroom. If it’s a new cat, let them into the room long before it is time for them to take a bath.
  2. Trim the nails on your cat. Plan ahead as it isn’t recommended to trim all ten nails in one sitting. This will also benefit you as they won’t have sharp claws to swat you with.
  3. ALWAYS brush your cat. Even if you skip trimming their nails, brushing your cat will help them relax and it will also rid them of clumps of fur so that shampooing them is much easier. It is one of the best ways to prepare for how to bathe a cat.

2. Prepare Yourself

  1. Select a time when your cat is more tired and/or calm. This will reduce his/her urge to fight.
  2. (optional) Invest in a cat harness. This will keep you from having to grab the scruff of your cat which can potentially hurt them and/or scare them even more.
  3. (optional) Invest in a rubber bath mat for the tub. This will keep your cat from sliding and it will give them better footing so they are less anxious
  4. Fill the tub or sink ahead of time. A tub should have about 7-9in of water while a sink should have 2-3.
  5. Test the water temperature BEFORE you put your cat in the water.
  6. Insert a little bit of cotton in your cats’ ears to prevent water from getting into them.

3. Give Your Cat A Bath

  1. Hold your cat and put him/her into the water up to their neck
  2. Once their fur is sufficiently wet, apply the cat/ pet-friendly shampoo. DON’T use human shampoo. It is harmful for your cat and it is not how to bathe a cat.
  3. Once the shampoo has been applied, rinse your cat thoroughly. This is critical because if there is any shampoo left in their fur, it will cause itchiness once it dries.
  4. Gently wash your cats face with a warm, clean water and a washcloth. Do not use soap as this will harm their eyes, nose, etc.

Note: This last step is part of how to bathe a cat, but it can be done at a different time if your cat is too stressed or upset after being shampooed and rinsed.

4. Post-Bath: Drying & TreatsHow to Bathe a Cat

  1. Once your cat has been shampooed and rinsed, lift him/her out of the tub and wrap them in a clean, dry towel.
  2. Gently massage them with the towel in order to remove excess water.
  3. Pat them dry.
  4. For longer haired cats who are not afraid of the blow dryer, turn it onto the cool/warm setting – NEVER hot – and finish the drying.
  5. Release the clean cat into a warm, clean room to allow their fur to air dry.
  6. Reward your cat with a little treat. This is important to do no matter how good your cat was. It will reinforce the good behavior and help the next bath time to go just as smoothly.

Extra Tips:

  • Do yourself a favor and wear rubber gloves that have extra grip – and maybe even long sleeves and pants. Even the most mild-mannered cat may lash out and it pays to protect yourself.
  • Enlist the help of a second person. This is especially helpful when you are actually washing your cat. One person typically holds the cat while the other can shampoo/rinse.
  • Keep the bathroom door closed to prevent a premature exit
  • If you have more than one cat, do not allow the others into the bathroom as it may agitate the cat you are bathing. Additionally, when you have dried the cat, release him/her into a separate room to avoid causing anxiety in the other cat(s).
  • Make sure you choose the right shampoo. If you are using a new one, monitor your cat for a few days to make sure that it doesn’t have any negative effects (such as redness or increased itchiness)


Giving your cat a bath doesn’t have to be a dreadful event. So long as you and your cat both remain calm, the process can be relatively quick. While there are a number of different thoughts on how to bathe a cat, the best steps are outlined here. If you have found additional things work, or if you have extra tips to share, feel free to leave a comment or two below for the benefit of all readers.

More Pet-Related Stuff to Check Out:

How to Keep Your Cat from Scratching the Door in 5 Steps

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