How To Bathe A Cat – Step By Step Guide

Cats and water, that’s far from being a love story! While some cats enjoy the water – or at least aren’t afraid of it – most of them just at the sight of the running bathwater, they can run away for miles. So is it necessary to wash a cat and how to help cats overcome the fear of water?

As mentioned above, cats are known to be real enemies of water. Fortunately, they are incredibly clean animals that take great care of their hygiene by grooming several times a day.

When you should bathe your cat 

  • If your cat has rolled in mud and dirt 
  • If your cat has caught fleas or parasites – consult a veterinarian to explain in detail how to wash your cat perfectly.
  • In case your cat has spilt an oily or a dangerous substance on their coat (oil, paint, coffee, etc.)

If it is an edible substance such as coffee, you can rinse the stained area with clean, lukewarm water, using a damp glove or a cloth. If it is a toxic substance, urgently call a veterinary clinic to give you the appropriate indications, depending on the product spilt.

How to help your cat overcome the fear of water

The sound of showerheads, the depth of our bathtubs, and the smell of our hygiene products stress out most cats. Fill just a little bit of your tub with lukewarm water, and try to limit sources of stressful noise (showerhead, open tap, or hairdryer, etc.). You can turn on the heater, give her some toys, food or treats to distract her. The key is to make this moment as stress-free as possible!

Never use your hygiene products to wash a cat. The scents and chemicals of these products can be unpleasant and toxic to them. You can also consider filing your cat’s nails before bath time, especially if she has a strong tendency to scratch you. 

How to bathe a cat – Step by step guide

  1. Brush the cat’s hair as much as possible, first in the hair growth direction to untangle it, then in the opposite direction. Brushing helps in relaxing your cat before bath time.
  2. Place your cat on a non-slip mat at the bottom of the sink, in the tub or shower.
  3. Consider putting a filter on the showerhead so that less water comes out. 
  4. Gently wet your cat so that she doesn’t panic. Avoid getting her ears wet.
  5.  Apply the shampoo gently, massaging her skin well, and avoid the eye and ear areas as much as possible.
  6. Use a wipe to wash her head.
  7. Rinse the shampoo with water, gently.
  8. Use a towel to dry your cat, avoid using a hairdryer as it can totally panic her.

Water-less ways to clean your cat

Dry shampoo

Yes, you can also use dry shampoo to wash your felines! Buy a dry powder shampoo for veterinary use and spray it on your cat’s coat. Be careful to avoid the head. Leave it for 5 minutes then gently brush it to remove the excess product, and you’re done! You don’t even need to rinse.

A wet glove

If your cat hates water, use the damp glove technique. Wet a glove or a clean cloth in lukewarm water, remove the excess water and run it over your cat’s coat to remove any dirt.

Gloves can freak your cat out, so try gently massaging her with the glove or by giving her treats to distract her attention. Try to associate this moment with something positive! Don’t forget to dry her with a clean towel, especially in cold weather.

A gentle bath

If your cat is too dirty and you have no choice but to bathe her, there are several tips to prevent bloody moments for you. First, prepare the bathroom by slightly increasing the temperature in the room. Place a towel or a non-slip mat on the bottom of the tub or shower. Put a filter or a washcloth around the showerhead to diffuse the water more gently.

Then place your cat on the towel or mat (there should be no water in the tub!) And wet it lightly with lukewarm water. Take a small dab of veterinary shampoo in the palm of your hand and gently rub the cat. Finish by rinsing it off with the showerhead wrapped in the washcloth or by pouring a small bowl of water on your feline’s coat. Then dry her coat with a towel. 


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