Bathing Cats: Should You Do It? And How?

People often ask: Should I bathe my cat? How do I bathe my cat? We answer.

By Julie Mignery | Posted: August 19, 2014, 4 p.m. EDT

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Cat Baths
Some cats don't fully grasp the concept of cleaning themselves. Here's a guide to helping them out.
Most cats have a pretty good handle on personal grooming, which means many owners will never have to worry about bathing their cats. That doesn’t mean your cat wouldn’t appreciate a little extra help though. Daily brushing is not only a good bonding experience but also a proactive measure to reduce the amount of hairball-producing fur your cat ingests. Running a baby wipe, specially formulated pet wipe or damp towel along your cat’s coat on occasion can add extra shine and cut down on dander.

Sometimes bathing does become a necessity. Attention to grooming can wane with age and a cat or two has been known to get up to no good and end up so dirty they can’t tackle the job themselves. If that happens, head to the pet-supply store and follow some simple steps to bathing cats:
  • First consider a dry shampoo; cats have a reputation for disliking water. To use, brush your cat to remove surface grime, rub in the dry shampoo, then brush again.
  • If a deeper cleaning is necessary, go for a full wash.
    • Stand your cat in a dry sink or tub,
    • Carefully pour lukewarm water over your cat's coat or use a gentle spray nozzle
    • Apply a cat-specific shampoo per the instructions
    • Rinse until the water runs clear off your cat with no residue
    • Gently towel dry as much as your cat will allow
    • Reward with a favorite treat.
  • If cleaning your cat results in disaster, give your vet a call. He or she could prescribe a calming drug or recommend a professional groomer who can handle this dirty job for you.
Read On
Get further guidance on whether you should wash your cat >>
Quiz: Are You Ready to Bathe Your Cat? >>
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Reader Comments

Tiffany    Annheier, NJ

8/30/2014 11:19:59 AM

I collect stamps and sometimes my cats wander in and get them stuck on their fur. I've tried bathing them in the past but they very much don't like it. I'm starting to think shaving them might be easier on them than washing them!

Sarah    Montpelier, RI

8/30/2014 11:15:58 AM

Bonita, I'm worried about your diving cats and the depth of your bathtub? I hope they roll into the dive in time to avoid hurting themselves!

Bonita    Ellsberg, VT

8/30/2014 11:13:38 AM

I have huge tits and I like to cover them with Mr. Bubble when I'm in the bathtub. If my cats hear me farting they take a flying leap on my boobs jumping high in the air aiming their paws ahead and diving into the bath. Then they run out - keeps 'em clean!

Carol    Silver Spring, MD

8/30/2014 10:08:33 AM

good advice

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