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how to bathe a cat

How To Bathe a Cat [Tips for Easier Feline Grooming]

It is no misconception that cats don’t like water. Bathing a cat may seem intimidating. After all, those claws should be considered weapons. Luckily enough, cats are clean animals by default and take care of most of their own grooming needs.


That being said, there will still be instances where you need to bathe your feline friend! They may be uncomfortable at first and resist getting into water, but there are ways to make it easier for both of you. Keep reading to learn a few tips and tricks that will make your cat’s bathing experience go as smoothly as their coat looks after a bath!


Do Cats Need to Be Bathed?

Short-haired breeds are excellent self groomers! However, all pets can get dirty and eventually need a bath. Whether your feline friend is an indoor or outdoor cat, they tend to get into some mischief from time to time.


Some of our long-haired friends might need a bit more maintenance. Because their hair is longer, their tongue can’t always reach the inner layers when they groom. The Maine Coon has long, fluffy hair, and with great hair comes great responsibility. Hairless cat breeds (like the Sphynx) require semi-frequent baths to clear out the oil on their skin that hair would normally absorb.


cat in sink


Is It Okay to Bathe a Cat?

Yes! It is okay to bathe a cat. Bathing too often may cause dry skin and dandruff. Generally speaking, we don’t think your cat will appreciate being bathed weekly.


A bath every once in a while shouldn’t hurt —’shouldn’t’ being the operative word. Some cats who were rescued from shelters may associate bath time with negative experiences. As long as the experience is safe for you and your cat, it’s a good idea to keep them clean. Remember, steer clear of the claws!


How Often Should You Bathe a Cat?

The National Cat Groomers of America recommends that most cats be bathed every four to six weeks. How often you bathe your furry friend depends on fur type and lifestyle!


Over-bathing can lead to dry skin and itchiness, causing excessive shedding. Under-bathing can also cause matting, tangles, increased hairballs, and even acne. It is also important to occasionally bathe your cat to rid it of pests such as fleas, ticks, and mites!


Most cats will benefit from bathing once a month, but certain breeds need fewer baths. Generally speaking, if your cat’s hair is matted, dirty, or smells, you should bathe them!


What Do I Need to Bathe a Cat?

Before you dive into the tub…or rather, before you bathe your cat, let’s go over a few materials you might want to have on hand.


  • Bathtub, Plastic, or Sink: Make sure there is a non-slip mat wherever you decide to bathe your cat. This will help prevent them from slipping while you bathe them and benefit you in the long run. Who wants to be bathing a cat while slipping and sliding!
  • Cat or Kitten Shampoo: Having a special shampoo for your cat is very important. Some might say that it’s the most important item out of this entire list! You want to make sure that you get the right shampoo for your cat. Make sure to read the label before using it. Many flea shampoos are meant for cats one year or older. If you are bathing a kitten, you have to explore other options.
  • Brush: Cat brushes are specifically made to untangle knots and remove excess hair. This helps you brush gently and, in turn, keeps you and your cat happy!
  • Towels and a Hairdryer: Their hair tends to retain moisture, causing them to lose body heat, so it is important to dry your cat immediately after bathing. A towel can work just fine, but a blow dryer is best to keep their fur untangled and soft!


How to Bathe a Cat

How do you bathe your cat without getting scratched? Well…you can’t. Kidding! Bathing your cat often isn’t necessary, but it can improve their fur and mood! Additionally, it’ll keep your home relatively hairball-free.


While it is necessary to bathe your cat, it is not an easy task. It’s very important to create a calm, soothing environment for your cat’s bath time.


The more relaxed your cat is before a bath, the chances of you coming out unscathed heighten! Refrain from being extremely nervous because they can also become nervous. Below are some helpful ways to prepare your cat for bath time!


cat in towel


Help Calm Them Before the Bath

There are a few ways to help relax your cat and make their bath time quick and painless! Treats are always great to incentivize bath time. If you’re looking to provide your cat with extra relaxation, our CBD treats, oils, and CBD catnip spray are great places to start!


CBD is a non-intoxicating compound derived from the hemp plant. It has a range of therapeutic properties that relax cats and other animals! CBD not only benefits your cat during bath time, but it also has many other healing properties! It can help with swelling, digestive issues, and appetite concerns.


We offer our salmon-flavored CBD treats, which are a great way to entice your cat into the bath. Once the salmon flavor lures them in, the CBD will typically kick in 30 minutes to an hour. You will notice that your cat will begin to slow down, making it easier for you to get them into the tub!


Another option is our CBD oil for cats. You can mix the oil into their food or give it to them directly. Measure out a larger or smaller dose, however you see fit. The oil provides a soothing boost of CBD, just like the treats. The oil also kicks in in 3o minutes to an hour and can help put your cat at ease.


Trim Their Toenails

If possible, clip your cat’s nails a day before the bath. While some cats are completely comfortable with nail trimming, CBD can provide an extra bit of comfort for those that may be a little nervous. Trimming their toenails a day before a bath can give them enough between time to alleviate any extra stress associated with bath time.


Trimming your cat’s nails keeps you safe from possibly getting scratched. Remember those lethal weapons? The chances are that if a cat is frightened, it will extend its claws, trying to grab onto things to stop them from getting in the water. The trimming will save you from scratches and hopefully spare your clothes as well!


Brush Them Thoroughly Before the Bath

It is important to brush your cat’s fur before a bath to get out any tangles or matting. This also helps get rid of any loose fur that they might lose in the bathtub, making cleanup for you a lot easier! Use a gentle brush that’s appropriate for their type of coat.



You know when you’ve had a big meal, and you feel sleepy? Well, after your cat eats or after playtime, they are also mellowed out. It is a good time to bathe them once they’re tired out and winding down. After eating, most cats are much calmer and more easygoing as they digest their food.


Monitor the Water

Start by filling your tub or bucket with warm, not hot water. The water should go no higher than your cat’s stomach. Deepwater might scare your furry friend more than they already are. When their water is ready, gently and slowly lower your cat into the water.


Once they are used to the water, use a cup to pour small amounts of water over patches of their body. Once they’re wet, lather the cat shampoo in a small area, rinse, then repeat elsewhere. You can also use cotton balls and put them in their ears to prevent water from getting them. If it helps, using treats during this process can help your cat remain calm while you pour water on its body.


Have a Towel Ready

It’s important to have one or two towels ready as soon as the bath is over. If you leave your cat in the tub while you grab a towel, the chances are that it’ll leap out of the tub, making a mess in your bathroom. Keep the towels next to you so you can be ready to get them out and dry them off once you’re done.


Things to Avoid When Bathing a Cat

I think we’ve concluded that to avoid making bath time stressful for you and your cat, it is best to ease into it.


These are a couple of things to avoid when bathing your cat:


  • Showers: We don’t recommend showering your cat. The water coming from the showerhead can cause further stress and discomfort for your feline friend. Some cats won’t mind a shower, but the majority of them will not like it.
  • Tossing Them Into the Tub: Remember when we said that it’s better to ease into things? This isn’t what we meant! While you may enjoy cannonballing into the pool, your cat certainly does not want to be tossed into bathtub water. Slowly lower them into the water as you speak comforting words to them. If they are resisting, it is best to listen to them and not fight them on it. Forcing them into the tub will only stress them out further and can potentially cause trauma.
  • Pouring Water on Their Face: Splish! Splash! Cats are not fans of water in their face. Instead, try using a washcloth or a wipe to clean their face.


Final Thoughts – How to Bathe a Cat

There doesn’t need to be a calm before the storm because there doesn’t need to be a storm at all! With these tips, we hope that we can help you create a soothing environment to bathe your cat. Check out Healthy Petables for calming CBD treats and tinctures to make your cat’s bathing experience go even smoother!