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How to Bathe Your Kitten: 5 Vet-Approved Steps (With Video)

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

kittens in carpet

How to Bathe Your Kitten: 5 Vet-Approved Steps (With Video)


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Water and kittens don’t make the best combination, but sometimes, it’s inevitable that you need to give your kitten a bath. They may need a medicated shampoo to treat fleas or a skin infection. Orphaned kittens can sometimes need help keeping themselves clean because their mother cat isn’t there to help them.

Follow our guide on how to bathe your kitten, along with useful videos showing you exactly how to do it the right way!

3 cat face divider

The 5 Steps to Bath Your Kitten

1. Prepare your equipment

Before you start bathing your kitten, make sure you’ve got everything that you need close to hand. We recommend:

The best pet shampoos are carefully formulated to clean your pet without causing irritation. Hepper's Colloidal Oatmeal Pet Shampoo does a great job of this by combining soothing ingredients like aloe vera and colloidal oatmeal. It is also pH-balanced and free of irritants like dyes, soaps, sulfates, and phthalates. You and your pet will both enjoy the fresh, clean scent, too! 

Hepper Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats and Other...
  • Only Natural Pet Shampoo - Our vegan, plant-based formulation is made with safe and natural...
  • No Soap - A cat and dog wash free from soaps, glutens, dyes, DEA, sulfates and phthalates means it's...
  • Colloidal Oatmeal - Formula soothes and nourishes dry, irritated skin, providing itchy skin relief...

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

2. Warm the room

Kittens can’t regulate their own temperature, so it’s important to make sure the room they’ll be in after their bath is warm enough so they don’t catch a chill. You want the room to be roughly 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a room heater, but it’s also a good idea to have a heating pad or a heated cat bed for your kitten.

3. Bathe your kitten

It’s easier to bathe a kitten using warm running water, so the washbasin in your bathroom is the best location. Make sure the water is comfortably warm, then hold the kitten in one hand, and massage the shampoo into your kitten’s fur using the other hand.

If you’re bathing your kitten for fleas, you can create a ring of shampoo around their neck first so you can avoid getting their head wet and discourage fleas from moving up their bodies.

Gently lather the shampoo all over your kitten’s body, avoiding the face and head. Rinse all the shampoo off your kitten’s body using the water from the faucet. Proceed to gently clean the head and face area, using a soft cloth to carefully avoid the delicate eyes, nose, and internal ear. Rinse the shampoo off the cloth, and use it to remove more shampoo.

Once they’re clean, wrap your kitten in a towel (preferably warmed from the dryer!) to make sure your kitten gets warm and dry as soon as possible.

4. Dry your kitten

Use a warm towel to dry your kitten’s fur as much as possible. Most kittens will also tolerate being dried using the low setting on a hairdryer. Move the hairdryer around so the heat doesn’t concentrate on a single spot of the kitten’s body.

Once their fur is dry, you may still need to wrap them up in another warm towel to help them maintain their body temperature.

groomer wiping cat with towel
Image Credit: Standret, Shutterstock

5. Keep your kitten warm

Once your kitten is clean and dry, take them back to their warm room. They may want to curl up for a nap, in which case, a heated cat bed is the perfect way to help them stay warm!

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Bathing an Orphaned Kitten

Orphan kittens often get covered with food and stool, and as they don’t have a mother cat to clean them up, they must rely on you to do it for them!

When bathing an orphaned kitten, there are a few different options:
  • Spot dry bath. This is the preferred option because it’s less stressful for both of you! For this, you’ll simply need a damp paper towel or cotton pad. If your kitten has localized dirt, this is the quickest and easiest way to clean them up. Make sure you dry the damp fur with a towel to stop your kitten from getting cold.
  • Spot wet bath. This is a slightly more involved process and requires bathing one area of the kitten—for example, their bottom—and leaving the rest of their fur dry. You’ll need shampoo, towels, and everything else that you’d need for a full bath.
  • Full bath. A full bath involves bathing your kitten’s entire body using the same steps that we previously outlined.

Giving your kitten a bath doesn’t have to be stressful, and following our tried-and-tested method means you can make the process as easy as possible for both of you and end up with a shiny, clean kitten at the end!

Featured Image Credit: Tom Pingel, Shutterstock

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