5 Tips On How To Bathe A Cat That Hates Water

5 Tips On How To Bathe A Cat That Hates Water

Bathing a cat can be a real struggle, because as most of us know, cats tend to really dislike being submerged in water. However, if your cat gets excessively dirty to the point where it would be bad for them to try to clean themselves, a plain ol’ bath will be necessary to get that fur nice, soft, and clean again. If you know for sure that you cat doesn’t like bath time, then these five tips may be for you.

1. Acclimation

First off, why do cats hate water? There are several answers to this question, but the largest contributor is fear; because a lot of cats have never experienced being submerged in water, they naturally don’t know if it is safe or not. While some cats can be sensitive to the smell of hard water, the second main reason a cat wouldn’t like it is because of their fur getting soaked. The top layer of fur is mostly water resistant, but the bottom layer isn’t; if the bottom layer gets drenched, it could be uncomfortable for them. The climate that you live in will also impact your cat’s water preferences – if you live somewhere warm, your cat will have higher chances of liking baths than a cat in a cold climate, as water results in loss of body heat.

With this in mind, finding a way to acclimate your cat to water will be the best way to give them a bath. A typical bath procedure consists of filling a tub with about four inches of lukewarm water, and then placing your cat inside, followed by wetting their coat, rubbing the cat shampoo in, and then rinsing off. To acclimate your cat, you can try putting them in the shallow end of the tub where only their paws would be wet, and then coax them towards the deeper end. Another way to do this is to place them in the tub, and then let it slowly fill up.

2. The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

For cats that are a little more hesitant to get into a tub of water, you’ll have to show them that water is enjoyable and won’t harm them. To do this, you’ll have to lock your cat in the bathroom with you as you take a bath in shallow water. If possible, let your cat sit on the side of the tub, and let them explore the water. There is a possibility that your cat will be awfully curious and end up sticking a paw or two into the bath water, and if this is the case, all should proceed well. You may be able pick the cat up and slowly lower it into the water at this point, and if not, they’ll need to become a little more comfortable with water. Do keep in mind that it would be a good idea to wear some kind of clothing incase your cat decides to claw you.

3. Treats and Pets

The previous two tips are great for getting your cat acclimated to bathing, but if your cat experiences a lot of discomfort during baths, they may need a little motivation. Once your cat is in the water, especially if they start getting hostile, it is a good idea to give them some of their favorite things, such as kitty treats or gentle petting. It is best to give your cat treats from the palm of your hand at this point, because at this point, they would get soggy if you just threw them into the bath water. During a bath, it is also great to constantly pet them with a free hand. One option here is to have another person help, and have their sole purpose be pleasing the cat, but the presence of multiple people in the room might do more harm than good and scare your cat.

4. Take Your Time

If this is your cat’s first bath, then taking your time and easing them into it will be essential. In addition to continually petting them, and giving them cookies, you’ll also have to go very slowly and gently. Take caution to avoid splashing water directly on their face, and work on small sections of them at a time. Doing this can avoid stressing your cat out even more and could potentially make the process smoother for the both of you. For instance, starting on their lower back and tummy, and then working outwards, is a good strategy. After washing your cat, swaddle them in a large towel and rub them with it to help them dry off quicker. Chances are your cat will hide from you for a little while after a bath while they settle back down and lick themselves for a while, and this is completely normal.

5. Last Resort

If you absolutely can not get your cat to bathe in water, the best alternative would be to buy a package of cat cleaning wipes. These contain ingredients that help rid their coat of oil and dirt and tend to work quite well. However, these products tend to only focus on the top layer of fur, and if the bottom layer is excessively dirty as well, you may struggle to accomplish a thorough cleaning.


Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be able to give your cat its necessary bath. Ideally, your cat will be much easier to bathe after doing it once or twice, and it is possible that your cat grows to actually like water. If this is the case, you could have a new bonding activity on your hands that is more than just cuddling and snuggling. While you could totally keep a few inches of water in your bathtub all the time for your cat to chill in, it would be a lot cleaner to just set aside some time each day, or every other day, for your cat to have some pool time.

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