How to Give a Cat a Bath Without Getting Scratched

Need to know how to give a cat a bath without getting scratched? Our best tips to get through a bath with minimal bloodshed!

How often should I bathe my cat?

Tips for Giving Cat Bath

Your cat is well-equipped (tongue and teeth) to tackle their own grooming needs, however, there may be times when that alone is not effective enough to maintain their hygiene.

Cats don’t often need your intervention as far as bathing goes, but there may be times when it is necessary. Despite their natural instinct to groom, some cats are just not good at it and need a little help.

Other times, your cat might need a bath in order to clean up a sticky mess they might have gotten into. If your cat is overweight they may not be able to properly groom themselves. In this case, their fur might become matted in areas resulting in dry, flaking skin, and in some cases, even infection.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy something using our retail links, we may earn a small affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more about how this works.

Tips for Giving Cat Bath


Unless your cat really likes getting wet, the bathing process is going to be stressful for both of you. Try using an aromatherapy calming spray to help relax your cat and minimize stress.

To reduce the risk of injury to both you and your cat, it is recommended that you trim your cat’s claws before bathing.

Brush your cat thoroughly to remove any loose fur and to ensure there are no mats in the fur.

The kitchen sink is a perfect place to give your cat a bath, it is raised and will reduce the stress on your back while bathing your cat. A rubber mat, or towel, placed in the sink will provide a non-slip surface and also help you keep your cat positioned where you want.

Fill the sink with three to four inches of lukewarm (not hot!) water.

Be sure to have a dry towel within reach for when you get your cat out of the bath.

Bathing Your Cat

Bathing Your Cat

First, and foremost, if your cat is in distress and starts freaking out, just let them go. An upset cat on the defensive can cause a lot of damage with their claws. Be safe!

Starting at the back of the neck and working towards the tail, thoroughly wet your cat, being careful not to get water directly in their eyes, ears or nose. A hand-held spray hose works great. If you don’t have a spray hose, an unbreakable pitcher or cup works well.

Working from the nape of the neck, gently apply the shampoo (don’t use human shampoo – it can dry out their skin) directly to your cat’s fur. If your cat has long hair, you may need to dilute the shampoo a bit so you can work it down into the thicker, longer fur. Again, take care to avoid your cat’s face, ears and eyes.

Thoroughly rinse the shampoo from your cat, being extra careful to remove any residue from the belly, under the neck, armpits and the underside of the tail. It is important to ensure any shampoo residue is washed away since it can irritate the skin if left in the fur.

Finally, wrap your cat in a warm, dry towel and be sure to keep him warm until he’s completely dry. Try cuddling your kitty and changing out the towels for new, dry ones when needed. It is not recommended that you use a blow dryer since this could frighten your cat.

Finally – And Most Importantly

Reward your cat! Praise and their favourite treat are in order! While your cat might not enjoy being bathed, by being properly prepared and reducing the stress involved for both you and your cat, you are likely to at least have a not-so-terrible experience.

8 thoughts on “How to Give a Cat a Bath Without Getting Scratched”

  1. I’ve yet to own a cat that loves water.

    I found myself nodding along thinking about how I should really give my cats a bath and then I remembered just how awful it is lol!

    Something I have never done, and now I feel quite guilty admitting this, is rewarding my cats afterwards. I figure they’ve had enough of me and would rather claw my face than have a treat. Maybe I’ll take a little more time to give them attention and treat them after the bath.

    Great post!

    – Nehpets

    • Hi Nephets. Most of the time cats are fine without our intervention. I wouldn’t bathe your cat on a regular schedule unless advised by a veterinarian. However, sometimes kitty just needs a bath!

  2. So I guess I never realized that some cats need help when it comes to bathing and grooming. I always assumed that cats handle that all on their own. However, I am a dog owner and not a cat owner so my knowledge here is limited anyway. I will have to say I read your entire post because it really interested me and made a lot sense. The process you lay out seems like it would work very well. I am curious if they also offer a good product that you would recommend for dogs? I have a small dog (mini schnauzer) and his grooming and care is always a lot of work, but very important! Any advice would be great, thanks!

  3. What a great post………i didn’t know you can get products to help with cat grooming…….how fantastic.
    Its very informative and i have learnt loads. I will be sure to share this with my friends who have cats, i know they will love it.
    I love the photos as much as i loved the content thank you.

    • People think that cats don’t need help grooming, but sometimes they do. I wouldn’t recommend regularly bathing your cat (unless advised by a veterinarian).

  4. Great post! I am a huge animal lover myself. I came to your site to find out about great choices for my dogs but ended up loving this review. I love the picture of a clearly unhappy cat getting a shampoo LOL. Anyway very in depth and I am going to send over to my family members that have cats as pets. I am sure they will love this product based on your review.

    • Thanks, Robert! Shampooing a cat is not something at the top of people’s list of favourite things to do! However, there certainly are things you can do to minimize the stress for all involved. Thanks for stopping by!

Comments are closed.