How To Give Your Kitten a Bath

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

24 April 2019

While cat wipes usually does the trick for muddy paws and the like, you sometimes need to give your kitten a bath. The reason can be that they have an infestation of fleas, have a skin condition that needs to be treated, or may have been ill and need to have their bottoms washed.

Kitten in the bathroom
In this case it’s best to be prepared and know what you may be getting yourself into — cat’s hate water, after all, don’t they? Well, yes and no. Some breeds of cat like water, while most cats will get used to getting the odd bath if they get bathed from a young age.
If your kitten is still very young — under 8-10 weeks old — it’s best to ask for your vet for help if you need to bath your kitten because of a skin condition or any other reason. You will need to use very specific shampoo in these cases to ensure you don’t hurt your kitten with a formulation that is too strong for them.
However, no matter how old they are, what you will need will remain mostly the same.
What you will need:

  • A bath or bathing container — a sink, baby bath, or even a storage bin can also be used.
  • A small cup or beaker — you will need one of these to pour some water over your kitten to rinse off any shampoo
  • Kitten shampoo — only use kitten shampoo. This is especially important if the shampoo is meant for fleas, for instance.
  • A few towels — get together two or even three towels to dry off your kitten immediately after washing them. Some kittens love to splash water everywhere, so rather have too many towels handy.
  • Some treats — (unless they are under 4 weeks old) have some of their favourite treats at hand to distract your kitten with and to reward them with once the bath is over. They deserve it!
Giving your kitten a bath
  • Get everything that you will need ready and fill the bath or container with a few inches of water. How much water will depend on their age, as the water shouldn’t be higher than their knees. Important! Test the water for its temperature before putting your kitten in! The water should be warm not hot. Checking with your wrist or elbow usually works the best.
  • Next, place your kitten gently in the water while speaking to it in soothing tones. Give your kitten a few moments to get used to the water and then start pouring some water over the kitten’s body to wet it. Start at the tail and slowly work your way forward toward their head. Be careful not to wet their face, though.
  • If you see that they get very agitated or stressed, coax them with a treat and keep on praising them for being so good. Don’t scold them, and don’t shout. (Definitely don’t hit them!)
  • It is quite common for kittens and cats to get agitated when the water comes close to their head or face, so slow down if you need to.
  • Then take a small amount of the kitten shampoo and massage it all over your kitten. Use the cup to rinse all the lather from your kitten.
  • Take your kitten from the water and dry them with the towels. It’s best not to use a hair dryer as it could overheat your kitten.
Photo by Philippine FITAMANT on Unsplash


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