For any cat owner, one of the toughest jobs ever is to bathe the kitty. Cats generally keep themselves clean, but if your kitty is playful and mischievous and likes to get into trouble, you could have to bathe your pet more often than either you or cat would enjoy. If your cat gets into mud or poop or something sticky and gross, a bath is inevitable.
If you have never bathed your cat, it is important that you take the advice of your vet on how to give a bath properly. This will reduce the chances of accidents and injury, and prevent your cat from being traumatized. You will also need a vet-approved shampoo for bathing your cat. There are a number of cat shampoos in the market. If your kitty has fleas, you will need a flea shampoo. In case of rashes or other skin problems, you will need a medicated shampoo.
A bath is a stressful situation for the cat. No matter how hot or how dirty they are, felines will always react negatively to any activity that involves water. To make sure a bath does not become stressful for either the cat or you, you need to follow the right bathing process.
In This Article...
- What is the Best Cat Shampoo?
- How To Give Your Cat a Bath
- The Best Cat Shampoos
What is the Best Cat Shampoo?
How To Give Your Cat a Bath
Prepare Your Cat
Even before you take your cat anywhere near the bathroom or water, there are things you need to do to prepare your kitty for what is to come. One of them is trimming the claws of your cat. This prevents the risk of injury or scratches when your cat gets excited or scared during the bath. Make sure to trim properly, so it doesn’t cause pain or bleeding. Trimming of claws should be done a day or two before the bath, and the kitty must be rewarded with treats after the trimming. This leads the cat to associate the trimming with something good.
Brushing your cat is another important step before the bath. This helps remove any knots and tangles in the fur because removing them is more difficult when the fur is wet. Cats usually like to be brushed, so this is your chance to make your kitty feel relaxed and calm before you give him a bath.
Set Up The Bath
Depending on the size of your cat, you can either use the bathtub or the kitchen sink. Wherever you bathe your cat, it is important to set up the place before the job. If you are bathing your cat in a tub, make your pet familiar with the place first. Putting some cat toys in the empty tub and playing with your cat for a while will help the cat get used to the tub. When you play with your cat in the bathroom, it will make your cat associate bath times with something pleasant and non-threatening.
Keep the door of the bathroom or kitchen (if you are using the sink) closed while you bathe your cat. This will prevent your cat from escaping when he gets excited during the bath. If you have more than one cat, a closed door will also keep the other out while you give one of them a bath.
Securing the tub is important before you pour water into it. You can do this by placing a rubber floor mat at the bottom of the tub, to give your cat traction in the water. Wet towels are also good alternatives to a rubber mat. You will also need to placemats or towels on the floor to soak up the water that spills from the tub.
You must fill the tub with a few inches of warm (not hot) water BEFORE you bring the cat into the room. The sight of running water scares cats, so you have to keep the tub filled and ready prior to getting your cat in. Do not run the shower, overhead faucet, or the taps when the cat is in the tub. Instead, use a cup or watering pot to pour water on your cat as you rinse him. Remember that you won’t have time to leave the room for anything once you start bathing the cat, so be prepared from beforehand.
Wearing long-sleeved clothing is a good way to prevent your cat from scratching your arms.
Bathe Your Cat
Picking the right cat shampoo is essential when bathing your cat. Do not use products meant for humans. If this is your cat’s first bath, ask the vet about the shampoo that’s right for your pet. Cat shampoos come in various types, from flea shampoo to medicated shampoo and are available at pet stores (more on this later).
It is important to remain calm when bathing your cat. If you are nervous, your cat will also become nervous. Talk to your cat in a soothing tone while you bathe him. Put only two legs in first, and wet your cat’s body a little at a time, starting from the head and neck, and moving on to the belly, legs, and tail. It is important to consider your cat’s comfort during the bath. If he doesn’t want to put four legs in the water, you have to bathe him on two feet.
Once the fur is wet, use a bit of shampoo to lather your cat gently. To prevent the risk of an ear infection from trapped soap or water, put cotton swabs inside your cat’s ears. This will also prevent the noise and keep your cat calm. Make sure to take out the swabs once you have finished bathing your kitty. Talking gently to your cat and behaving like you are only petting and grooming him will reassure him during the bath.
Once you have lathered your kitty, it is now time to rinse the soap off. Gently scrub the coat using the water in the tub. Then rinse two or three more times with fresh water from the tap or from a bucket. Make sure there is no soap or bubbles left anymore in the coat. The rinsing process will take some time depending on the thickness of your cat’s coat. A short hair is easier to rinse than a long haired kitty.
If you notice signs of panic, like hissing, growling, meowing, or crying, do not proceed with the bath. A stressed cat is not a healthy sign, and will only make the next baths more difficult.
Another important tip to remember is never put your cat’s head under water. To wash your kitty’s face, use a wet washcloth and gently wipe the face, nose, ears, and around the eyes.
Dry your cat
It is vital that you take the time to dry your cat thoroughly because a wet coat can make her sick. Press as much water as possible from the fur, then wrap kitty in a towel and rub gently. Many cats find a warm towel more comforting, so you could consider warming the towel first in the dryer. While drying your cat, remember to use slow, gentle motions, to avoid pulling or tugging at the fur.
While shorthaired cats prefer to sit on a dry towel and dry themselves in front a heat source, long-haired cats need diligent combing to untangle the fur. Sit your cat in front of a heater and gently comb through the fur to untangle any knots and tangles. If your cat isn’t scared of a hair dryer, it could be used from a distance on a low setting to dry the fur quicker. Always remember to use a warm setting, never hot.
Once this whole process is over, reward your cat with his favorite food or a new toy while praising and petting him for being a good kitty. When cats associate bath times with treats and toys, they are less stressed or scared about it.
The Best Cat Shampoos
Quick Look : Best Cat Shampoos in 2023
It isn’t enough to just bathe your kitty; you must choose the right shampoo for the purpose. Without knowing the kind of skin your cat has, it is hard to make the right choice. Before you decide to bathe your cat, it is important to consult a vet to find out what type of shampoo should be used for bathing the cat. You could then get the shampoo from a pet shop or online store.
Let’s look at the different kinds of shampoos available for cats.
Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo Check Price
Top Overall Cat Shampoo
If your pet doesn’t have any skin condition, a regular overall shampoo should be good for bathing him with. Regular shampoos are often deodorized, and best for giving your cats a routine bath. Such shampoos are formulated for washing your cat to remove dirt and skin oils. Even though some of these shampoos may be scented, you could look for an unscented one if your cat doesn’t like fragrances.
Shampoos meant for your fur babies should be pH balanced and free from parabens. That’s what Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo provides for your kitty. The Earthbath range of pet shampoos is available in 12 different variants, and the Oatmeal variant remains the most popular. This soap-free shampoo is best suited for dry, itchy skin because the mild formula provides relief from the itchiness and also deodorizes your pet without causing irritation or interfering with topical flea medicines. The combination of oatmeal and aloe work wonderfully to heal scratches while helping trap and replenish essential skin oils. The moisturizing formula keeps skin soft and prevents the cat from scratching himself.
Soap-based shampoos are harsh on the delicate skin of your pet, so Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo is free from soap, and only uses natural fragrances found in nature. The scent of vanilla and almond scent keeps your kitty smelling fresh and clean. The shampoo is ideal for cats over six weeks with dry skin. The shampoo is biodegradable, paraben and phosphate-free and is never tested on animals.
- Soap-, paraben-, and phosphate-free formula
- Moisturizes and heals skin
- Natural fragrance
- Some variants may not have any fragrance at all
Bottom Line: Ideal regular shampoo for kitties with dry, itchy skin, Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo heals, cleans, and re-moisturizes skin.
Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Shampoo for Dogs & Cats
Best Shampoo For Itchy Skin
Cats can frequently be found scratching fervently. While scratching is often but part of their meticulous grooming regime, but if you find your cat scratching all the time, then there is a problem of itchy skin. Itchiness in cats is caused by several reasons. It could be because of dry skin or dandruff. It could be because of fleas or ticks. It could be because of bacterial and fungal infections. The cause of your kitty’s itching can only be determined by a vet. If there is no problem of ticks, fleas, or fungal infections, then you could use a mild, moisturizing, medicated shampoo to soothe the itching.
If there is no underlying cause of your cat’s itching, then Douxo Chlorhexidine PS is a good shampoo to soothe your kitty’s skin. It is an antiseptic product enriched with moisturizing agents like climbazole and phytosphingosine. The product can be used for both cats and dogs and is helpful in treating all kinds of skin allergies.
The ingredient chlorhexidine is bactericidal and bacteriostatic and kills and prevents bacteria. Another important ingredient is phytosphingosine-salicyloyl, which is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and controls excess sebum, and crusting on the skin. The product should only be used on adult pets, under the guidance of a vet.
- Controls bacteria and fungus
- Soothes and moisturizes skin
- Forms a protective layer on the skin and prevents loss of moisture
- Is an expensive product
Bottom Line: An innovative product to treat itchiness in cats and dogs, with regular use it prevents the growth of bacteria or fungus and keeps skin moisturized.
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea & Tick Shampoo
Best Flea Shampoo for Cats
Flea infestation is a skin condition affecting most animals at some point. Fleas are small parasites that grow in your cat’s fur and feed on their blood. Fleas are painful and often make life uncomfortable for your pet. Bites from fleas cause allergic reactions that can lead to severe irritation and itchiness. The itching can even result in the cat scratching herself and causing skin damage and infection. Flea shampoos are helpful in combating the problem for a short term by killing the fleas, but they do not have a long residual effect. Flea shampoos shouldn’t be used on kittens below six weeks. If a young kitten has fleas, talk to the vet about a suitable solution for the condition.
Give your kitty relief from itching and scratching with Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea & Tick Shampoo, which is specially formulated to kill fleas and ticks in your cat’s fur. This shampoo is a multi-purpose product that can be used for cats, dogs, ferrets, and horses. Although not formulated to kill eggs and larvae, Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea & Tick Shampoo kills fleas and embedded ticks and keeps them away for up to 14 weeks. Now that’s something most fleas shampoos don’t offer. Most flea shampoos have effects last up to only 30 days, but Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea & Tick Shampoo provides an exceptional 14-week promise.
Besides killing fleas and ticks and keeping the coat clean, the shampoo also gently cleanses and exfoliates the skin and leaves your kitty smelling nice and fresh with a soft and cuddly coat. The product contains 0.15% pyrethrins, obtained from flowers to kill fleas and ticks. The addition of aloe and lanolin provides soothing relief to irritated skin.
The shampoo must not be used more than once every seven days, and never on animals below 12 weeks. A vet must be consulted before using this shampoo on aged, debilitated, pregnant, nursing, or otherwise unhealthy animals. The lather must be left on the skin for five to ten minutes before rinsing.
- Good multipurpose product for dogs and cats, and ferrets and horses
- Controls infestation up to 14 weeks
- Soothes skin and cleans the coat
- Does not kill eggs and larvae
- Cannot be used on animals below 12 weeks of age
Bottom Line: While other flea shampoos prevent infestation for up to 30 days or a month, Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea & Tick Shampoo provides a 14-week guarantee. Besides killing fleas and embedded ticks, it also soothes and moisturizes skin.
TropiClean Medicated Oatmeal & Tea Tree Shampoos
Best Cat Dandruff Shampoo
Dander or dandruff is a skin condition characterized by small flakes of skin in the fur. Cat dandruff is either caused by an allergic reaction or by an underlying health disorder. Disorders of the system like hyperthyroidism, poor nutrition, allergies, parasites, and dehydration are common causes of cat dandruff. Low humidity and dry climate conditions also often contribute to the problem. Low body fats also result in dandruff. Most of the time, cat dandruff is a harmless condition. But if you notice an excess of dandruff or if there is severe itching or irritation, you must consult a vet. Cat dandruff shampoos are usually recommended to treat and control the problem.
If you are trying to eliminate flaky and itchy skin from your pet’s life, use TropiClean Medicated Oatmeal & Tea Tree Shampoo. The shampoo has natural salicylic acid that gets rid of scaly skin and dandruff, while oatmeal, vitamin E, and tea tree oil moisturize the skin and keep the coat clean and healthy. This soap-free formulation can be used on cats of all ages on a regular basis. The shampoo does not interfere with any topical flea or tick treatment. For best results, leave the shampoo on for a few minutes before rinsing it off.
- Controls itchy, flaky skin in both cats and dogs
- Has a nice scent
- Lathers very well and is easy to rinse off
- Made from natural ingredients
- Can be a little expensive
Bottom Line: Soothe your cat’s skin while getting rid of dandruff with TropiClean Medicated Oatmeal & Tea Tree Shampoo. This natural formulation works up a great lather even on long haired cats and controls dandruff and itchiness with regular use.
TropiClean Spa Renew Shampoo for Dogs & Cats
Best Shampoo For Shedding
Cats shed. Shedding is a natural process of getting rid of dead fur. Although shedding is nothing to be concerned about, sometimes excessive shedding can be a potential problem. Excessive shedding can be caused by a lot of reasons. Poor nutrition, allergies, and hyperthyroidism are often responsible for excessive shedding. Once you determine the root cause of the hair loss, you must get a proper shampoo to treat shedding and aid in the growth of new fur.
For a refreshing shampooing experience that leaves your cat with a smooth, clean coat, try the TropiClean Spa Renew Shampoo for Dogs & Cats. This is a gentle cleansing formula that has ginger, white plum, and oatmeal to soothe itchy skin and aid in hair growth. The shampoo restores the health of your cat’s coat while leaving your cat smelling fruity and fresh.
- Soap-free, coconut-based product to soothe and moisturize skin
- Cleanses and nourishes
- Gentle enough for both dogs and cats
Bottom line: TropiClean Spa Renew Shampoo for Dogs & Cats cleanses and nourishes the coat, leaving it healthy, shiny, and fresh.
Bathing your cat once or twice a year is enough in most cases. Make sure to consult the vet if you notice other conditions like fleas or excessive shedding.