Grey cat licking their paw

How to bathe your cat

By Team Walmart Pets

April 21, 2021


min read

Cats are fastidious groomers. If they aren’t eating or sleeping by your side, you’ll likely find them with one hind leg pointed straight to the sky, grooming their day away.

As clean as cats can be, there are times where you need to take their bathing into your own hands.

When should you bathe your cat?

Generally, cats don’t need baths. But if your cat gets into a smelly mess, is old or overweight, or sick or hurt, there are times when cats need your help staying clean.

If your cat needs a bath but you’re not up for the challenge, reach out to a groomer. Groomers know all the cat taming tricks, which is a win/win for you and your cat.

How to safely bathe your cat

Step 1: Trim your cat’s nails. You should be doing this every few weeks regardless, but it’s especially important before bathtime. Wearing thicker garden gloves can also help prevent scratching.

Step 2: Enlist a helper to hold your cat while you bathe. Chances are, your cat isn’t just going to sit there and enjoy it.

Step 3: Choose whether you’ll use a tub or kitchen sink (if your sink is big enough), then make it non-slip. You can use non-slip pads or a wet towel.

Step 4: Prepare your tools and the bath. If you don’t have a sprayer faucet, grab a pitcher or large cup to rinse your cat. While you’re at it, run the water until it’s warm and get your pet shampoo ready. You can save money by diluting one part of your shampoo with four or five parts water. This will also help the shampoo soak through your cat’s fur. 

Step 5: Slowly put your cat in the bath and carefully wet their body. Avoid getting their head wet, as this WILL send your cat bolting.

NOTE: If your cat doesn’t seem to be cooperating at all at this point, you should probably call a groomer.

Step 6: Give your cat a good rub down with the diluted pet shampoo. Remember to skip the face and head. You can wipe those down with a damp washcloth after you’re finished. 

Step 7: Slowly, carefully rinse off the shampoo. Be thorough yet gentle as the remaining shampoo can irritate the skin and encourage mats to form. After your cat’s rinsed, use a damp washcloth to gently wipe their face and chin.

Step 8: Dry the rest of the excess water from your cat’s body by gently squeezing or wiping the body, tail, and legs with a towel. While you’re at it, give them a Greenie cat treat. They earned it! And while you're at it, treat yourself. Bathing a cat is never easy.

Pet Health

Cat Health

Pet Care

Pet Grooming

Pet Safety

Bathing Pets

Pet Shampoo

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash