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Can you Give Newborn Kittens a Bath?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: April 15, 2018
Can you Give Newborn Kittens a Bath?

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There is a widespread belief that cats don't really get on with water. We won't completely deny this, but if you accustom a cat to water when they are kittens, they will be much more comfortable in later life. On the market today there are so many different options to clean your cat. Brushes, special products for dry baths, sanitising foams, etc,. But you mustn't forget that long-haired and light coloured breeds are most in need of proper hygiene maintenance. As well cats who regularly go outside and come home with all kinds of things in their fur!

Remember it is not advisable to bathe your cat before they are 6 months old. This is because at this stage they will have had the majority of their shots and a very active immune system (defences). Bathing them-self can cause a lot of stress and can cause other problems that you will want to avoid.

Perhaps you have been unfortunate enough to find an abandoned kitten in need of a clean. If you have had a similar ordeal, AnimalWised want to answer the question: Can you give newborn kittens a bath?

You may also be interested in: How to Feed a Newborn Kitten

To bath or not to bath?

A cat's cleanliness is as important as their sleep and food. They normally go about this alone, using their tongue. They dampen their legs using their tongue as a sponge. It is also advisable to brush them to remove any dead hair as it helps the condition of their skin, reduces hair ingestion and is an enjoyable experience for an affectionate cat.

For bathing and brushing, it is better to accustom your cat slowly and gradually. Do not force them if they want to escape. Sometimes you'll see them come and go as if it were a game - this is a positive thing. After a grooming session or a bath, you can also finish with cuddles and games, this will reduce any stress in your cat.

For longhaired cats, such as a Persian, you should start to accustom them to this when they are kittens. Can you bathe new-born kittens? As we mentioned above, it is best to start at 6 months in order to turn it into a regular routine in their daily life.

Can you Give Newborn Kittens a Bath? - To bath or not to bath?

How to bathe a newborn kitten

Bathing newborn kittens is very common when people sadly find orphaned kittens. However, we must warn you that this is not an easy task. You should do this to avoid any skin infections and perhaps because it is one of the mother's important tasks at birth.

This step will be relevant to the more timid first-timers as they often have a lot of doubts and fears when cleaning small cats:

  1. Turn the tap on and let it run until you get to a warm temperature that is pleasant for your hands. Remember that a cat's normal body temperature is between 38.5°C and 39°C and you want to make this experience enjoyable for them. Use a thermometer if necessary.
  2. Hold the kitten in one hand and wet their hindquarters with the other, always from back to front. Try not to put them under the tap, this can be very traumatic and can have many unwanted physiological consequences.
  3. Put 2 or 3 drops of shampoo for kittens on your fingers (if not, use, glycerine soap) and make a lather and rub it over the wet areas, removing any traces of urine and faeces that may have stuck together.
  4. Rinse the kitten like you did at the beginning and then dry them with a soft towel. Don't leave them wet as they can easily catch colds and even fungus, which is very difficult to fight at this young age.

Don't forget that harsh or antiparasitic soaps cannot be used on kittens as they are quite strong and can damage the kitten's health. Only wash their hindquarters (or the body itself) when really dirty. Consult your vet whenever you have doubts.

You can repeat this process to eliminate odors and to adopt the role of "mum cat" - that cleans her kittens several times a day. You can also use wipes for the same purpose. Who wants their children to go around looking dirty?

Can you Give Newborn Kittens a Bath? - How to bathe a newborn kitten

If you want to read similar articles to Can you Give Newborn Kittens a Bath?, we recommend you visit our Fur care category.

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2 comments
Sheila Zeeb
My son keeps giving our 2 week old kitten baths because of fleas. I keep telling him not to. Can this kill the kitten? Sheila Zeeb
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Dani
I have 4 orphaned kittens, 3 are less than a week old. Would it be safe to give them a bath? They keep getting each other and themselfs dirty and i can’t get it off with a wet washcloth.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Dani,

It depends what sort of 'dirt' they are getting on themselves. They need to be kept in a safe environment which is as clean as possible. However, as they are orphaned, they are missing out on the cleaning their mother would have otherwise provided them. As the newborns don't have a mother to clean them and are too young to clean each other, you may need to clean them if they are dirty. However, it is a judgment call on your part as it is not recommended to bath them at all before 6 months.

If you do decide to clean them, follow the instructions in this article and be very gentle. Also, ensure you clean the water and basin/tub thoroughly between washing each kitten. Good luck and we wish the kittens all the best for the future.

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