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How to Dry a Cat After a Bath: Vet-Approved Step-by-Step Guide

gray cat newly bathe
Image Credit: KDdesignphoto, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Ashley Bates

Vet approved

	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore


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

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You rarely find a cat that will gladly accept having a bath without putting up a fight. If your cat is as apprehensive as most others, you may want to make sure you’re doing everything correctly to minimize the agony for you both.

After all, cats are independent creatures. The lack of control in a bathtime situation, along with the addition of water, can make them very insecure. After baths, you’ll want to dry them as quickly as possible. They’ll probably immediately begin grooming themselves in an effort to correct whatever error they are sure you just caused. Then, after something so traumatizing, they are going to need a nap.

Here’s our guide on how you can dry your cat after a bath.

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Tips for Drying Your Cat

There are no particular rules to drying your cat after a bath, but you can work to make the process as seamless as possible. After all, you’re likely wanting to get everything associated with bathtime over as quickly as you can, and we can’t blame you.

The trick is to dry your cat as fast and efficiently as possible. You don’t want to leave your sopping wet kitty to their own devices.

wiping cat with damp towel
Image Credit: Vikentiy Elizarov, Shutterstock

Prepare Yourself

First of all, you should already have all of your cat bathing supplies ready and on hand. So make sure you have a towel handy when you’re ready to get them out.

Temperament Matters

How you dry your cat depends significantly on your cat’s temperament. A calmer cat who is well-mannered in the tub won’t be hard to dry. But a cat that has been trying to escape you the entire time is going to try to bolt the first chance they get. That can make drying really difficult. And you won’t want them running around drenched and freezing cold for very long. Ensure you have a hold on them even after you turn the water off and wrap the bath up.

Choose Your Bathing Spot Wisely

Commonly, owners use the bathtub or even the kitchen sink since it’s easier for them to reach. But you might also use a tote or tub, especially those that already have smaller baths for kiddos lying around.

wet cat in the bathtub having shower
Image Credit: Vladeep, Shutterstock

Rinse Thoroughly Before Drying

No matter what method you use, make sure that your kitty is thoroughly rinsed prior to removing them from the water. Any residual shampoo can result in skin irritation. If you notice any residue or bubbles left on your cat’s fur after washing, you will need to put them back under the water for a quick rinse—and they likely won’t be happy about it.

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The 6 Steps for Drying Your Cat

Our best advice is always to have a helping hand during bath time unless you’re a very experienced person who has a solid rapport with your cat. It’s simply a precaution in case they scare for any reason and go into attack mode.

1. Place the Towel Flat Next to the Sink or Tub

Before you even start the bath, you’re going to want to place a towel beside the sink or tub so you can have direct access to it when the bath is through.

This will ensure that you don’t have to move away from your cat to grab their towel. Not only can your cat escape during this time, but they also will get cold quickly.

cat bath
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

2. Get Your Cat Out of the Water

When you have rinsed them thoroughly, you’re going to want to drain the water from the fur as much as you can with your hands. You can slick the water off their legs and their back before lifting them out of the tub.

Once you have gotten the bulk of the heavy wetness off, gently pick your cat up and place them on the towel.

3. Quickly Swaddle

Remember, at this point your kitty is cold! Swaddle (cat burrito) them up like a baby with their legs bound so you can restrain them as needed. This can really help your cats calm down, giving them a sense of security.

4. Gently Pat

Gently pat them to remove all excess moisture. This is a really good time to take a cotton pad and wipe it around their face as well to get any residue away from their nose or eyes.

kitten in a towel
Image Credit: AmrThele, Pixabay

5. Rub Fur Thoroughly

Once you have patted out most of the moisture, you can rub them more vigorously with a towel.

After this point, their fur should be slightly damp to the touch, but definitely not sopping wet. Remember to get their ears dry, as extra moisture in the ears could lead to ear infections or irritation.

6. Air Dry in a Warm Room

Your cat should never be left in cold temperatures when they’re wet. If they are an indoor cat, make sure that they are in a warm location, such as a cozy bed until they’re completely dry.

If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, they’ll have to stay inside until they have dried all the way to the skin. Being out in cool or cold temperatures while wet can negatively impact your cat in more ways than one.

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Because you know you’re on the home stretch, it can be relieving to get to the drying process. They are one step closer to being free again and you don’t want to restrain them any longer than you have to.

But drying is a super important part of the bathing process to prevent your cat from being cold. They’ll be back on your lap purring again in no time. After a while, they may even consider forgiving you for the whole thing.

See Also: 

Featured Image Credit: KDdesignphoto, Shutterstock

About the Author

Ashley Bates
Ashley Bates
Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.

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