How To Freshen the Feline

One would think that any creature that can so beautifully emulate the flow of water like we cats can would not harbor such a longstanding hatred and fear of it. The fact is, most domestic cats do not enjoy getting wet. Some will even lift their noses at the thought of walking over a damp floor. So, do cats need baths and if so how do you bathe a cat?

I often wonder why I hate water so much when in the wild, there are many species of big cats that actually enjoy getting wet. Tigers and jaguars like to soak in water, most likely because their usual habitat is in a hot environment and it helps keep them cool (tigers will actually swim in deep water and have been observed catching fish).

A big reason you don’t see domestic cats splashing jubilantly in water is that via evolution our coats absorb rather than deflect moisture. It’s harder for us to dry off.  So fortunately in most cases, we do not need to be washed with water as we groom ourselves naturally, making regular brushing adequate to keep us looking clean and comfortable.

However, there are unfortunate occasions when giving a cat a bath is necessary. A cat that has soiled herself in the litter box or rolled in something that our kind of bathing doesn’t help to clean (or sometimes, cat goddess forbid, we may need bathing with flea or fungicidal medications).

In these instances the best way to give a cat a bath is to make it quick and efficient to reduce our stress and yours. Start by ensuring you have all the necessary supplies handy before you start:

Rubber gloves (even the most placid feline may scratch during a bath), feline friendly shampoo, a large towel, and a small cloth to clean the face).

For your comfort I recommend using the sink and following my step-by-step procedure for how to give a cat a bath. Fill the sink with about 2 or 3 inches of lukewarm water then wet your cat from the shoulders to the tail and apply shampoo. Just like your own hair, lather and rinse thoroughly.

Since most cats really hate having water splashed on their face, use a damp washcloth to gently clean your cat’s head. After a thorough rinsing, lift your cat onto a large towel and fold it around her. Rub as much water from her fur as possible.

If you absolutely can’t bear the thought of washing your own cat or want to make sure they hold someone else to blame for the experience, you can always pay a professional (who can also do ear cleaning and nail clipping).

My name Lady Grey.  I am lovely and maintain impressive grooming habits, as all true ladies do. I am a 3 year-old female Tabby with luscious soft grey fur. My former people abandoned me and my friend Twilight so I am looking for someone more worthy of my abundance of affection. I adore attention and am surprisingly agile for someone so refined. I get along well with other cats, who can’t help but like me, as I am sure you will when you come to meet me…

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View our shelter pets and services online:


Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 970-626-2273 to report a lost pet or to learn about adopting a homeless pet and the SCHS spay/neuter, volunteer, feral cat or other programs. View our shelter pets and services at

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