Cats are superior creatures in many ways. They’re cute, they (sometimes) like to cuddle, they bring us dead animals as gifts, and they’re exceptional at grooming themselves — more than we can say for some people we know.
In the event your precious baby kitters gets so filthy or flea-ridden that someone needs a bath, we’ve got tips.
Never had the pleasure of being owned by a cat before? Check out our guide on adopting a cat for everything you need to know about these mysterious and wonderful creatures.
What to use to bathe a cat
First things first, grab your supplies. You’ll need:
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Bathing a cat may seem hard because cats historically hate water. But here are some steps to follow to get the job done.
Step 1: Brush your cat before bath time
Smooth out their fur and remove any debris.
Step 2: Lay a towel in front of the tub to kneel on
Have a second towel at the ready for post-bath drying.
Step 3: Fill the tub 4 to 6 inches deep with lukewarm water before you put your cat in
Place a third towel in the water — this gives your cat something to grip when they get nervous.
Step 4: Close the door to prevent escape, then carefully place your feline friend in the tub
Tell your cat how precious he is. Tell her she’s the only thing you’ll ever truly love. Serenade him with songs that you make up on the spot. Give her all the praise in the world, because she deserves it — she’s letting you bathe her.
Step 5: Get your cat wet from head to tail with the cup
Add the shampoo, and gently work it into the fur, starting at the neck and working toward the tail — back, chest, belly, legs, and precious little paws! Use a damp washcloth to clean your cat’s handsome, lovable face.
Step 6: Rinse ‘til all the soap is gone
Leftover soap residue may irritate your cat’s tender feline skin.
Step 7: Towel dry your cat
Absorb as much water as possible so your cat doesn’t shake it all over you and the house once you set them free.
Step 8: Spend the next month making it up to your cat
Ply them with yummy catnip treats, a can of the good wet food stuff, or a new toy. Give them rubs and scratches, and pledge your eternal devotion. It probably won’t be enough — but at least you tried.
To make your life easier, here’s a super cute and helpful video on how to bathe your cat — watch and learn before your lil’ baby’s feet ever hit the water.
Why do cats hate water?
It’s common knowledge that cats hate water — but why?
One theory is that the water weighs down their fur — imagine being draped in a wet blanket, and you can probably understand why wet fur is uncomfortable for your fur baby.
How to bathe a skittish cat that hates water
If your cat hates bath time, you’re not alone. But how does one go about bathing a creature with razor-sharp claws who gets violent when confronted with water?
Enter dry shampoo. No, not the kind you use for your hair (although we love that stuff, too). This dry shampoo is formulated for hydrophobic cats who would rather tear you to shreds than set foot in a tub full of water.
Dry cat shampoo absorbs excess oils, removes dirt, and helps deodorize your stinky cat so the love of your life not only looks good but smells good, too.
In general, you shouldn’t need to bathe your cat at all. Your cat’s barbed tongue does a fantastic job of cleaning dirt, debris, and dust from their coat, plus they’re pretty fastidious about keeping themselves clean without you.
But some cats — like an older one who can no longer groom, a poor guy with fleas, or a naughty dude who got into something really gnarly — may require your humble assistance.
Still, don’t bathe your cat more than once every six weeks — frequent bathing with soap and water could cause skin conditions like rashes or dryness that’ll make your sweet babe miserable.
How to get your kitten to enjoy baths later on
Thomas Ling of the natural pet care line kin+kind says, “Things that you want to do and engage in with a pet (like paw care and brushing teeth) can be a real joy for them, especially if you introduce it to them early. They like it, and it becomes fun — it's not a chore.”
5 steps to clean your cat’s ears
Most cats can clean their ears themselves, but sometimes, material gets trapped deep within their ear canal and has a difficult time finding its way out. This trapped material can lead to itchiness and ear infections.
Clean your cat’s ears with these steps:
Step 1: Swaddle your cat in a towel to help keep them calm
Situate them on your lap.
Step 2: Gently grab the tip of the ear flap, and pull it back slightly to straighten out the ear canal