9 Of The Best Tips For Giving Your Cat Their First Bath

Bath Time Troubles!

It’s no secret that most of our cats don't particularly enjoy getting wet. In fact, many of our feline friends have an intense fear of water. Therefore, bathing a cat is rarely a pleasant experience for you or your kitty. Furthermore, cats are inherently clean creatures that do an excellent job of washing themselves most of the time.  

Because of this, you should generally let your fur baby clean themselves and avoid whatever havoc bath time may bring. That being said, there are some situations where it may be necessary to wash your kitty. 

When Your Cat May Need A Bath  

  • Your kitty has managed to soil themselves badly. 

  • You have a stray kitty in your care who needs cleaning.

  • You have a kitten with fleas. (You can usually deal with fleas using other treatments. However, these are not suitable for very young kittens. Instead, you will need to do the traditional wash and flea comb method.) 

  • Your cat has contracted a fungal infection such as ringworm. In this case, you’ll need to use special medicated shampoo provided by your vet. 

  • Your cat is sick or injured and has stopped grooming themselves. 

Dealing With Your Cat’s Fear 

Before you attempt to bathe your cat, you need to understand and be mindful of the stress it may cause them. The most important thing is not to dunk your cat into the water as this is guaranteed to cause panic and fear. Using a shower head with high pressure can have an equally devastating effect. Instead, it’s best to slowly and gently pour water over them using the cup method. 

Kittens are much easier to bathe as you can hold them still. Additionally, if you start washing your cat while they are young, they will tolerate it much better when they grow up. If you have an older cat that has never had a bath, it’s likely to be much more difficult. However, patience and gentle steps can help ease any cat into their first bath time routine.

Here are our top tips on how to wash your cat for the first time and survive to tell the tale! 

1.Clip Their Nails First 

9 Of The Best Tips For Giving Your Cat Their First Bath

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to clip your kitty’s nails. It’s not unusual for cats to try to scratch when being washed, it's a reflex from fear. Clipping their claws as short as possible will prevent many painful scratches. Clipping your cat’s nails won’t hurt them so as long as you don't clip too close. Make sure you clip where the white nail is and not the pink part closer to the skin, as this is where the blood vessels and nerves are and clipping anywhere around it can be painful.  

2.Get A Helper 

9 Of The Best Tips For Giving Your Cat Their First Bath

If you're washing a large adult cat, you might want to call on an extra pair of hands. You'd never guess just how strong your feline friends can be until you attempt to bathe them! 

3.Prepare Everything Beforehand 

9 Of The Best Tips For Giving Your Cat Their First Bath

Have everything in place before you take your cat into the bathroom. You might decide to fill your bathtub an inch or so with lukewarm water or fill a bowl or bucket instead. Keep everything you need including shampoos and cups within your reach. 

4.Make Sure There Are No Escape Routes 

9 Of The Best Tips For Giving Your Cat Their First Bath

Once you bring your cat into the bathroom, don’t forget to close the door. If your kitty sees a way to escape, they will not hesitate to try it. 

5.Wet, Shampoo, Rinse 

9 Of The Best Tips For Giving Your Cat Their First Bath

After wetting their entire body, gently apply shampoo, creating a lather. Some medicated shampoos need to stay on for 10 minutes or so before rinsing off (which is a whole other challenge!). You can rinse off regular cat shampoos straight away after you've massaged it through their fur. Be sure to rinse the product off thoroughly to avoid causing any irritation. The furrier your kitty is, the longer it may take to rinse.  

6.Clean Their Head With A Damp Cloth 

9 Of The Best Tips For Giving Your Cat Their First Bath

Although cats dislike water on any part of their body, they particularly hate water splashed in their face. When washing above the neck, use a damp cloth for a more non-intrusive method. Avoid pouring water into their ears (you can clean their ears very cautiously with a cotton bud instead), and like with children, ensure shampoo does not get into their eyes!

7.Stay Calm 

9 Of The Best Tips For Giving Your Cat Their First Bath

Cat’s sense our energy and use that to gauge how they should react. So, if they feel stress or fear from you, this will heighten their anxiety. Speak to your kitty in a calm and soft voice throughout the bath, letting them know they are safe.  

8.Burrito Wrap Them In A Towel  

9 Of The Best Tips For Giving Your Cat Their First Bath

After washing, wrap them up tightly in a towel like a burrito, with their arms and legs tucked in. Hug them close, letting the towel absorb the water, and use a separate towel to dry their head and neck. Rub as much water out as you can. Do not use a hairdryer as the heat is too strong for your kitty’s skin, not to mention the sound will scare them. 

9.Give Them A Well-Deserved Treat    

9 Of The Best Tips For Giving Your Cat Their First Bath

Once the process is complete, give your fur baby a treat or two! They deserve a reward. This will help your cat associate treats with baths, creating a better feeling towards them in the future. You may want to treat yourself after that ordeal too! 

Other Considerations 

  • Ensure you’re using a cat-safe shampoo. Cat’s skin can be pretty sensitive, so make sure the shampoo you're using is suitable for felines. For example, some dog flea shampoo can be toxic to cats. Moreover, human shampoos can dry out and irritate your kitty’s skin. 
  • If washing very young kittens, keep them wrapped in a towel so that their temperature does not drop. Kittens under four weeks old can not regulate their body temperature. A bath can make them dangerously cold very quickly. If you need to wash kittens this young, towel dry them completely and ensure the room is a warm and comfortable temperature. 

Follow these tips and tricks to help create a more manageable bath time experience for you and your kitty. If you need to wash your feline for whatever reason, always do so with love, care, and lots of praise.