How do I wash my cat correctly?

Cat owner wash cat in the bathtub

Cats are extremely clever and clean animals. They are able to groom themselves with their tongues. Because of this, for the most part, cats do not need to take a bath. However, certain health issues and situations can make it necessary for a cat owner to wash their cat from time to time. As cats typically do not like water, it’s important to know how to take on this task correctly. In this article, we will go over a few tips and advice on how to wash your cat.

Why should I wash my cat?

As cats are naturally clean animals, cats do not need to take frequent baths. They are able to groom themselves thanks to their rough tongues. However, washing your cat can be necessary in certain situations:

  • If your cat returns home covered in mud, dust, or dirt, you can give your cat a bath. This is because in these types of situations, cats are not able to thoroughly groom themselves on their own.
  • Your cat participates in cat shows. In situations like this, they need to have an impeccable coat in order to win first place.
  • Long-haired or hairless cats. Sometimes cats can walk around with their poop still stuck on their coat.

In order to keep your cat’s coat healthy, remove dead hairs, and prevent flea and ticks, we recommend that you wash your cat every now and then.

What do I need to wash my cat?

Before you start washing your cat, it’s important to be well-equipped. When preparing the accessories that you need for your cat’s bath, it’s important to make sure that they are easy to reach when giving your cat a bath. During their bath, it can be really difficult to reach for the things you need, especially if your cat is afraid of water. So, what do you need to prepare before giving your cat a bath?

You will need:

  • An anti-slip bath mat, a basin, or a towel to prevent your cat from slipping.
  • A bathtub, a shower, or a sink.
  • Washcloths.
  • A special shampoo for cats. Their epidermis does not have the same pH as the epidermis of humans. Conventional shampoos with chemicals or perfumes in them can irritate their skin.
  • A towel that is within reach.
  • The water for the bath should not exceed 37°C (98.6°F). With that being said, the bath can still be warm, especially during the winter.

At what age can I start giving my cat a bath?

It’s best to start washing your cat at a very young age so that they will be more accustomed to the water and have a better experience as they get older. With that in mind, it’s important to be careful. You should wait until your cat’s kitten hairs have already fell down before giving your cat their first bath. Waiting for this moment allows cat owners to have time to get their cats used to periodic brushings and cleaning them with a washcloth. As soon as your cat is used to water, a full bath can be done.

A long-haired cat getting coat brushed
Before starting to give your cat a bath, try to get your cat used to getting their coat brushed regularly.

What steps should I follow to wash my cat?

Without a good approach, your cat, even if they are usually very gentle, can develop aggressive behaviors and become difficult to clean. To avoid getting scratched by your cat or stressing them out, it is good to know how to keep your cat calm and feel at ease when you take them a bath. So, how do you proceed?

Building trust

You can build trust with your cat by making an effort to communicate with them. It’s also important to be calm and considerate.

A cat be given a bath in a sink, a bathtub, or a shower. When giving your cat a bath, it is possible to get them wet by using a shower head or a bowl.

Before starting the bath, it’s important to make sure that the temperature of the water is comfortable for your cat. It shouldn’t be too hot or too cold so that your pet will feel at ease.

To get your cat wet, you should avoid pouring water on their nose, eyes and their ears. The water needs to be poured on your pet gently so that you do not stress or scare your cat.

With gentleness, massage the fur of your cat while taking into the account how long the shampoo is being applicated. The time of application of this shampoo is generally indicated on the packaging of the product or on the prescription given by you veterinarian. Keep in mind that you should never apply shampoo on your cat’s head. This part of the body should be washed with wipes.

Dampen well each part of your cat’s body. It is important to rinse your cat well in order to not leave the foam from the shampoo on it. The residue from the foam can cause skin irritation.

Once the bath is done, it is recommended to dry your cat with a towel and to leave your cat in a warm area without running air.

A cat in a towel
It is recommended to dry your cat with a towel.

How to wash your cat correctly

Whatever the level of dirtiness your cat is, or their personality or size, you should always proceed with and kindness and gentleness.

When is the best time to wash your cat?

To begin with, do not try to give your cat a bath when they are feeling anxious. When your cat comes back from a cat fight, you should not interrupt your cat to try to take them a bath. Of course, do not wake up your cat especially for a bath. Wait for your cat to be calm and peaceful.

Which method should I use to clean my cat?

Washcloth: It’s easy to get rid of excess sebum or slight dirtiness that is covering their fur with a washcloth and some warm water. You can use a wrung out washcloth on their body, their back, their shoulders and their flanks.

Dry shampoo: Once your cat is in sitting on a towel so that they do not slip around, you can either delicately apply some special shampoo for pets on their coat or gently rub your cat with another towel that has dry shampoo on it. To finish, you would need to rinse your cat and then brush your cat.

Bath: You do not need to submerge your cat into the water. In a bathtub or sink, wash your cat and rinse them while avoiding using products with harsh chemical in them. This will make your cat’s grooming as simple as possible, all while reassuring your cat.

You can use a special shampoo for cats on your cat’s coat, on their back, their flanks and their limbs, if possible. After leaving in the shampoo for around 5 minutes, rinse it abundantly with water.

A few tips for a grooming session without stress

Using a hair dryer is not recommended because the sound that this device makes is stressful for a cat. To dry your cat, it is better to rub your cat gently with a towel, especially when it is hot, or use a radiator close to where your cat can sleep and get dry.

You can consider cutting some of the hair near the area where excrements typically stick on your cat’s bottom.

In order to prevent your cat from suffering, it is better to get the zones that need to be cleaned wet if you do not intend taking a complete bath. That way your cat’s hair will not be pulled too much. You can use a comb if needed.