How to Bathe a Cat

Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Jenny

Rags was a good model for this segment of how to bathe a cat. Bathing a cat can be an easy thing, if you get the cat used to having baths when they are a kitten. Rags was raised in a young family and therefore somewhat child-tortured. So he was exposed to water and baths before he wanted to be!

There are several different methods on how to bathe a cat. There is the Martha Stewart method of having two buckets of clean water. You dunk the cat (not their head, never get their head wet) in the first bucket and then soap them up and then dunk this in the second bucket to get the suds off. Of course, then you are supposed to let them air dry.

I am not sure of the effectiveness of this method, nor do I think it is the best way to do it. In the videos below, you will see my preferred method.

I prefer to bathe a cat in the sink or in the shower. The videos show Rags being bathed in a sink and is one example of how to bathe a cat. Since Rags is an old guy, I put a towel in the bottom of the sink (so that his back legs wouldn’t keep slipping–he doesn’t have the grip that he used to). But I think no matter the age of your feline, a towel in the bottom of the sink helps them get a grip and feels better than the cold hard sink–it’s just one suggestion of how to bathe a cat.

If your faucet has a sprayer on it, all the better. The sink I used had a sprayer and that’s the best way to get to every part of your cat’s body with bothering them too much (Rags doesn’t like being moved a lot when he gets a bath). Once you have wet them down with the sprayer, then grab your shampoo.

Bottle of Hylyt ShampooI recommend HyLyt Shampoo for bathing them. When Rags’ coat started getting oily from his lack of grooming, I used this shampoo and had tremendous success with the appearance of his coat. You can just buy a bottle of it or buy a whole gallon to save some money.

You need to use a pet shampoo or some people use a baby shampoo (since cats groom themselves with their tongues, you have to use something that isn’t going to hurt them in the long run by swallowing it, because inevitably there will be remnants of the shampoo on their coat when you’re all done). You then suds them up and focus on areas that they have dirty (like their bottom or paws). Since Rags is older, he doesn’t groom as often as a younger cat. So, he has a lot of parts to focus on. I just give those an extra scrub.

Once he has been soaped up, then it is time spray your cat off again. Make sure you get as much of the soap off as possible. Again, you don’t want them to have a belly ache from grooming themselves and swallowing a lot of shampoo.

Once all the suds are off, I then wipe off as much water as possible. And have a towel waiting to put him on (out of the sink) and another towel to dry him off with. You try to get as much access water as possible. However, if you have a long hair cat like Rags, his hair will be matted down and look horrible.

So, I choose to blow dry him (because he tolerates it fine). Other people would leave his coat in the matted state and wait for him to clean it (maybe put a light fan on him). I don’t care for that approach because Rags would just sit there until he was dry, and would not clean himself.

Once he is blown dry, then I brush him to get out any lose hair. I also clean his ears with a solution called Epi-Otic Ear Cleanser.

Once he is semi-dry, clean and ears done, I let him go about his daily business (i.e., sleeping!).

If you have any questions or suggestions? Please contact with your suggestions on how to bathe a cat

In the video above, my mom is shampooing Rags with HyLyt Shampoo with Essential Fatty Acids. I recommend buying a bottle to try and then getting a gallon if you like it–a great shampoo is one of the first steps in learning how to bathe a cat.

In the video above you can see the ear cleaner (Epi-Otic Ear Cleanser) that I use on Rags.

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4 thoughts on “How to Bathe a Cat

  1. Raaf says:

    Hey, i have a Ragdoll cat and he sheds way too much. I comb him just about everyday and i see no improvement. Hair is everywhere in my home and my family is at the point that they want to re-home him. Obviously i wont let that happen but i still need advice about how you keep your home clean with less hair on my clothes, furniture, and air. THANKS!

    • Jenny says:

      Can you vacuum more? I am not sure what to tell you – you might also see if your vet has recommendations. You have a long haired cat, so you are going to have hair.

  2. Melody says:

    If your Ragdoll kitten is too scared of the blow-dryer and never gets used to one, do you think it would be safe to bundle them up in a towel and sit with them in front of a mini-heater? I have been pondering this thought for a while because I never even use blow-dryers for my own hair so I probably will not own one in the future, plus I feel bad using one on a kitty..

    • Jenny says:

      Melody, it’s a lot like raising a child. If you have mothering instincts, then you will figure it out. You will know your kitty and he or she will know you. If you work with them from day one, they will let you do anything. If the mini-heater thing makes them comfortable – then go with it! I had Rags professionally groomed a few times after his chemo, and the lady said she didn’t want to blow dry him because he was so old and she didn’t want to stress him out…so she put him on towels, in a cage and let a fan blow on him. You could do something like that. Also, you really don’t need to give your kitties a bath, so this isn’t something to really worry about. Charlie has crap on his back fur sometimes – and I put him under the water to rinse it off, use a few towels to dry it up as best I can and then let him take care of the rest. The blow drying really is more for show cats or when it’s freezing out and they need to be warmer quicker.

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