Basic care

How to Give Bath to Cat for First Time

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 28, 2019
How to Give Bath to Cat for First Time

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Cats have a well-earned reputation for being extremely hygienic animals. Anyone who has a feline at home may have noticed the large amount of time each day that they invest in personal grooming. In spite of this, you may find yourself in a position where you must give an adult cat a bath. This is not an easy job, neither for you nor for the cat.

AnimalWised want this experience to avoid being traumatic for both parties. Therefore, we bring you these tips on how to give a bath to a cat for the first time. We are sure that these will be very useful and help you cope with this task in a simpler and more efficient way.

You may also be interested in: When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time
  1. Is it necessary to give your cat a bath?
  2. General tips for bathing an adult cat
  3. In the bathroom
  4. A quick shower for cats
  5. Alternatives to giving a cat a bath
  6. What to do after the bath

Is it necessary to give your cat a bath?

It is not difficult to realize that most cats flee in fear of water, although there are some breeds that find it fun and even pleasant. In fact, many veterinarians recommend not bathing cats unless strictly necessary, and always after at least three months old and have been given their vaccines. This is because baths could easily make them sick.

However, you may have never bathed your cat because they have not needed it. Yet, as an adult there are situations in which they will need a good bath. Such as:

  • They have fleas and you need to give them a bath with a special shampoo to fight them.
  • They have some sticky substance in their fur that can not be removed by licking, or that would be dangerous if they did - such as paint, grease, gasoline, and so on.
  • The cat has ringworm.
  • Their coat is long and you need to bathe them to keep the coat clean and untangled.
  • They suffer heatstroke.
  • They have allergies or skin infections.
  • They are sick and have stopped grooming them-self.
  • You have saved an abandoned or street cat and you need to give them a bath before going home.

No matter what the reason, bathing your cat can be traumatic for them and for you if you do it the wrong way. So, we will propose several methods to make the process more enjoyable for both of you.

How to Give Bath to Cat for First Time - Is it necessary to give your cat a bath?

General tips for bathing an adult cat

With any of the methods you choose to bathe your adult cat for the first time, you should follow the following tips to make the bath experience satisfactory:

  • You must be calm. Any symptom of stress or worry in you, any predisposition to things go wrong, will be easy to detect by the cat. This will heighten their alertness.
  • Find someone in the family to help you bathe your cat, between two will be easier.
  • Throughout the process you must be affectionate, speak to your feline with sweet words and never force the situation.
  • Prepare in advance. Have two towels (one to dry and one for the cat to scratch), special shampoo for cats, some containers, a hair dryer, a carrier (for transport).
  • You will have to have the necessary time for the bath, since it could take you an hour. It depends on what it costs to convince the animal that everything is fine.
  • Make sure the whole environment is quiet.
  • Pet the cat so they can relax.
  • Whether you bathe them in a bucket or basin, sink or bathtub, it should be large enough for the cat to fit. But, do not fill the bowl completely with water, just enough to reach the animal's belly.
  • The water should be warm - more towards the ambient temperature than towards cold or hot.
  • When finished you must dry the animal with a towel and then use a hair dryer on a low temperature, away from the cat's body so as not to burn them. If they are afraid of the dryer, place them in the carrier and let the dryer air through the door. In this case, toys, or any snack, to prevent the cat from associating the carrier with something negative.
  • If they scream and scratch, be patient and understanding. Give them a quick bath.
  • Never wet their eyes, ears, nose or head, give them a bath from the neck down.
  • Give them their favorite toys so they can feel safe and interpret it as a fun and positive activity.
  • Avoid using the jet of water directly from the tap, as the force of this will frighten the animal.

When you have all these things in mind, you can proceed with one of these methods.

How to Give Bath to Cat for First Time - General tips for bathing an adult cat

In the bathroom

Whether in the bathtub or the sink, first prepare all the tools you need and have the water ready for when the animal arrives. Start moistening your hands and passing them through the coat of the cat little by little, always be attentive to their reaction. Remember that this is the first time you are bathing your adult cat, so they may be upset and try to scratch. Then, follow these steps:

  1. At the edge of the tub, bowl or sink, place a dry towel so your cat can cling to it and scratch if necessary.
  2. The person who is helping you can distract them with a toy while you pour a little water with a container.
  3. If the cat is disturbed, be firm but delicate, without forcing them. Perform a massage on their coat with the shampoo and then rinse very well.

When you have finished bathing your adult cat , proceed to dry with a towel and hair dryer as explained in the previous section. If it is impossible to use the dryer, remove as much water as possible with the towel and let the animal finish drying them-self in a warm room. Be very careful: this is only viable in hot weather, never during the winter, and always making sure that at the end of the day the cat does not stay wet.

How to Give Bath to Cat for First Time - In the bathroom

A quick shower for cats

For cats that are harder to bathe, it is better to apply faster methods. So, listen up.

Get three buckets, one with soapy water and two with single water. In all three, remember to fill just enough to fit the cat and use warm water.

When you have everything ready, what you will do is to quickly put the cat in the bucket with soapy water, avoiding the head, and rub for the shampoo to take effect. Then, go to the next bucket, where you will remove all the shampoo, and finish rinsing in the last container.

Dry in the same way as we explained in the previous sections to prevent them from getting wet.

How to Give Bath to Cat for First Time - A quick shower for cats

Alternatives to giving a cat a bath

If none of the above methods help you wash your cat for the first time successfully, then try the following techniques:

Use a spray

Get an atomizer or spray that makes as little noise as possible, as this sound often scares cats. Next, fill the sprayer with soapy water, hold the cat by their neck, as mothers do, and spray the coat slowly.

Massage the cat's hair to activate the shampoo and quickly remove it in a bucket of warm water.


There are products to clean the hair of cats that you can apply to dry fur. Consult yourself on the most appropriate according to your case and the needs of your furry friend's coat. Do not skimp on expenses when it comes to a product of this type - remember your cat will lick them-self!

With these recommendations we are sure that you can bathe your adult cat and make them look clean and tidy. The first time is usually more complicated, but it is best to turn the bathroom into part of a routine. Introduce a few steps that the cat can remember and recognize, not to stress the uncertainty of not knowing what is happening. And if you want to provide their fur with extra brightness, do not miss our article in which we show you how to make your cat's hair shiny.

Also remember that in normal situations it is not usually necessary to bathe your cat unless their coat is long, because the work they do with their tongue is enough. Check with your veterinarian about the needs of your cat's fur so they can recommend the best.

What to do after the bath

Once you have managed to bathe your cat and dried their coat, you should proceed to brush them to remove any dead hair that may remain. Depending on the type of hair your cat has, you should choose one type of brush or another, as well as follow specific brushing routines. If your feline is short-haired, check out our article on short-haired cat brushes. If they are long-haired, do not miss our recommendations for long-haired cat brushes.

Brushing a cat frequently is essential to prevent our home from being swamped with hair. But, above all, not to encourage the formation of hairballs in their stomach. When licking, the cat accidentally ingests the dead hair that we have not removed, generating the dreaded balls and making them heave in order to expel them. Give your cat the best care possible and you will have a healthy and happy animal by your side.

How to Give Bath to Cat for First Time - What to do after the bath

If you want to read similar articles to How to Give Bath to Cat for First Time, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

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Joyce Smith
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How to Give Bath to Cat for First Time