Bathing an Adult Cat for the First Time: Everything You Need to Know

Bathing an adult cat is recommended in particular cases. If you need to give your cat a bath for the first time, keep reading.
Bathing an Adult Cat for the First Time: Everything You Need to Know
Samuel Sanchez

Reviewed and approved by the biologist Samuel Sanchez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

If you’re thinking of giving your adult cat a bath for the first time, you should know that this won’t be an easy task. Although felines are distinguished for being very clean animals, soap and water are not their favorite methods, especially when they’re not familiar with this activity from the time they’re small. However, it’s important that the owner knows everything about bathing an adult cat in case it’s imminent at some point. In this article, we’re going to tell you if it’s important or not to bathe your feline and why. We’ll also summarize what methods you can use.

Is it important to bathe an adult cat?

Cats have their own cleaning system and from 3 months of age, they learn to groom themselves. This action fulfills an important function, which is to keep cats clean and without tangles in their fur. They do this thanks to the rough surface of their tongue, which is made up of a kind of “hooks” that catch parasites, dead fur, and traces of dirt.

Considering that cats go through their grooming session several times a day, it’s easy to conclude that they stay pretty clean. Therefore, there’s no need to bathe cats constantly, whether they’re adults or babies. Even so, some exceptions can appear, such as the following:

  • You just adopted and the cat is too dirty.
  • The cat is suffering from a disease that prevents it from grooming itself.
  • Allergies, fungi, ringworm, or another infection on the animal’s skin that requires medicated baths have been diagnosed.
  • The animal has fleas, ticks, or ectoparasites.
  • The pet has gotten dirty with a dangerous substance that it shouldn’t ingest.

In any case, the cat’s first bath shouldn’t be given before it’s 3 months old or if it doesn’t have vaccines (unless it’s been recommended by the veterinarian). Otherwise, the appearance of infections derived from cold and humidity will occur in tiny kittens.

A cat getting a bath.

Bathing an adult cat?

If you’re faced with the imminent need to bathe your adult cat for the first time, stay calm – this is a difficult task, but not an impossible one. Here’s how to go about bathing an adult cat for the first time. First, you can choose between a deep bath and a quick bath.

Deep bath

When we refer to a deep bath, we’re talking about carrying out the act in the bathtub with plenty of soap and water. In this case, the first thing you’ll need to do is to warm the water. As indicated by professional articles, it’s best to use warm water to avoid a thermal shock that further upsets the feline.

You should also prepare the special cat shampoo or soap that’s been recommended by the vet and a towel. Once you have everything ready, follow these steps:

  1. Start by moistening your hands and gently stroking the cat. Hold it tight in case it tries to escape.
  2. Put a dry towel on the edge of the tub or sink so the kitty can grab onto it or scratch it.
  3. Choose to do the bath when someone else can help you distract the cat with a wand or toy while you moisten it more and apply the shampoo.
  4. Try to be as fast as you can, especially if you find that the bath is too stressful for your adult cat.
  5. Rinse the shampoo very well with water and, when ready, pat the cat dry with a large towel.
  6. Once you remove the excess water with the towel, you can use a hairdryer to complete the task.
  7. If the cat wants to escape, let it and try to lead it to a warm room. The safest thing is for the cat to groom itself and seek to dry itself.
  8. When it’s calmer, approach the cat with a snack and brush its fur. Make sure the cat is completely dry.

As an extra recommendation, if you notice that your cat has a good tolerance for bathing, allow it to play with some floating balls and make sure to always keep the water warm. If your pet enjoys the activity, this moment can become very exhilarating.

Bathing your adult cat quickly

A quick bath is designed for adult cats that don’t tolerate exposure to water well. To carry it out, you’ll need 3 punch bowls: In one, you’re going to place the shampoo or medicated product, and in the other two, you’ll put warm, clean water. Follow these steps to continue with the bath:

  • Very carefully and quickly (but safely) introduce the cat into the soapy punch bowl and use your free hand to thoroughly lather its entire body. Remember not to submerge its head.
  • Take the cat out and put it in the second punch bowl. This is when you’ll remove most of the shampoo.
  • Then, repeat this second step in the third punch bowl to rinse again and get rid of any soap residue.
  • Use a towel to dry the cat and repeat the process that we indicated in the previous section.

In addition, you should note that dry cleaning is a process that can be described as a quick bath. For this, a powder or foam is used that’s applied while stroking the cat, making sure that it comes in contact with the skin. There are many options on the market, so focus on using a quality product, preferably recommended by your vet.

Tips for after bathing your adult cat

Bathing your adult cat is a ritual that goes beyond just washing and drying your pet. Once the dirt’s been removed from its surface, you need to brush your cat in order to remove the dead fur that’s become loose during the shower. There are different types of brushes, so be sure to use the one that’s right for your kitty’s coat type.

The cat’s fur should be dry once the shower is over. Otherwise, it could get a cold during the colder times of the year.

A cat taking a back in the tub.

In addition to this, give your pet a snack or food as a reward. This way, if you have to bathe your adult cat other times (such as when it must undergo medical treatment), it’ll associate the bath with a reward at the end. If this was its first and only bath for a long time, give them something delicious to take the stress out of the moment as well.

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