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Cat Baths: 6 Things You Should NOT Do

Thanks to two lazy cats who were like teenage boys — they lay around and at times got a bit smelly — I've learned a lot about cat baths.

Eden Strong  |  May 19th 2014


My name is Eden, and I’m a pet owner who raises lazy cats. I’m not sure how I got into this role, but my track record of owning two cats who refused to groom themselves outweighs the one cat I had who used to neurotically lick all his hair off. I apparently can never find a happy medium for cat parenting when it comes to kitty hygiene. The neurotic one was pretty awesome, albeit a little bit strange-looking with his patchy bald spots, but he was a cool and clean little dude. Now the other two, they were just as sweet, but they were lazy. It was like housing two teenage boys. They just laid around all the time, demanding food, sleeping all day, and making quite the ruckus at night. Also like teenage boys, they sometimes had a stank about them. Since the two of them seemed completely unable and unwilling to take care of the issue themselves, that meant the work was left up to me… to give them cat baths.

Two cats upside down on a rug.

So after seven years of bathing cats, this is a short list of all the things you should NOT do while bathing a cat.

1. Do not let your cat know that he is about to be bathed

You must sneak up on the cat, kidnap him, and smuggle him into the bathroom where you will lock the doors, barricade him in, and then turn on the water. If there are any cats to be bathed after this one, make sure you turn music on very loudly to drown out the screaming that is sure to be coming from not only your cat, but most likely you as well. You wouldn’t want to tip off your next victims. I mean other cats.

A grumpy cat in a bath.

2. Do not fill the tub up with water

There are many, many reasons that I advise against this. Sure, it seems like a great idea — soap him up, and then dunk him clean — but I assure you it’s not. What will ensue will be a scene straight out of some Animal Planet alligator wrestling show where the two of you will both be fighting for your lives while you attempt, in vain, to keep his sharp teeth away from you.

You may even fall into the tub while trying to restrain the little beast. I won’t comment on that personally, but I will say that no one can blame a person if that were to happen. You never know what might take place during a fight for your life.

A wet cat after a bath.

3. Do not take a shower with your cat

Enclosing yourself in a confined place where your feline friend cannot escape might seem like a pleasant alternative to having to physically restrain your cat in the bathtub, but I assure you it’s not. I learned this the hard way, when my cat freaked out at the water flowing under him towards the drain and decided to climb me like a tree. Thankfully, I’ve blocked out most of that incident, but what I do remember is screaming “GET IT OFF OF ME” to my boyfriend and walking around for the next week looking like I had gotten into a fight with a squirrel.

A cat in a shower with his human.

4. Do not try cat baths without backup

Do not be fooled by the fact that when you add water your cat shrinks down to half his size. Just because Fluffy went from a great big Persian pillow down to a hamster with eyes that now look way too big for his body, this animal still possess strength and speed that defies reason. You are going to need an extra set of hands to actually wash your feline friend while you battle to keep your skin in its original form while holding him down. You may also need someone to tend to your wounds in case you suffer enormous blood loss.

5. Do not try anything fancy when bathing cats

If you have any fabulous ideas like taping baby socks onto your tiny feline friend’s feet to avoid being scratched, or wearing snow pants, bird gloves, and possibly a face shield while bathing your cat, forget it. Now, I’m not saying that I tried any or all of these things — I’m just throwing it out there that I’m pretty damn sure none of these options work. No matter how much you want them to. Trust me.

A cat wrapped up in a towel after a bath.

Have you ever tried your hand at cat baths? How long did it take you to recover? Is there any scarring? Share your war stories about bathing cats in the comments.

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About the author: Eden Strong is a quirky young woman with a love for most animals with fur. She readily admits to living her life completely devoid of most social graces and so far she’s still alive. More of her crazy antics can be read on her blog, It Is Not My Shame to Bear.