Bathing a Kitten: Your How-To Guide

Kittens and cats are very clean creatures, and generally bathing a kitten is not something you need to do too often.

Given that little kittens can be mischievous, however, you never know when they may go digging around in your potted plants, or knock over a jar of jelly or mustard all over themselves!

In this case, bathing her will definitely be called for! Do be sure to identify the source of the mess, however.

If she has rolled around in an unidentifiable chemical or substance, it could be harmful to her, so take her to the vet right away instead of bathing her at home.

cute gray tabby kitten

If you are just dealing with a plain old dirty kitten, it's time for a good bathing!

If you have a young kitten, it will be good to begin bathing her now because as difficult as bathing a kitten can be, a full-grown cat bath will be ten times harder if she's not used to it before she grows up!

tiny kitten getting a bath in the sink

Just be sure not to start bathing your kitten too often, as her delicate skin will get too dried out and irritated.

Twice a week should be the maximum for bathing but in my opinion even this is going overboard.

It is up to you how often you want to bathe her.

If not too dirty, instead of bathing a kitten with water you can use Hypoallergenic cat wipes to save time and hassle.

How to Begin Bathing a Cat or Kitten

Step 1

Let the water fill up before you bring her in there, as the loud sound of the water running may frighten her.

Step 2

Make sure the water is not too cold or too hot.

If you can keep your hand submerged comfortably for five seconds, it should be fine.

Gently set her in there and hold her in there, talking calmly to her.

She may begin yowling and howling, and just making a big fuss.

Just stay calm, and do this as efficiently as possible for both of your sakes!

It can make her feel more secure if you let her put her front paws over the edge of the tub or sink.

This makes it easier to wash and rinse her too!

Step 3

Make sure you use a gentle kitten shampoo or baby shampoo that's unscented.

Kittens have delicate skin (and noses!) and the perfume could cause irritation.

Don't use a flea shampoo while bathing your kitten either--most of the chemicals used are much too harsh for little kittens. 

Step 4

Lather the kitten gently, but try to avoid her head, especially her eyes and ears.

Rub the shampoo on her back, up and down each leg, and her belly.

Clean her tail, but don't lather soap on her anus or genitals.

When it is time to rinse after bathing a kitten, either scoop up the surrounding water in a cup and pour it over her back or turn the faucet on very slowly and on a low stream.

Also make sure this is a comfortable temperature, and position her under it (not her head!) and use your fingers to gently rinse out the rest of the suds until the water runs clear.

Step 5

Make sure all the soap is removed, and dry your kitten by gently rubbing her with a towel, removing as much moisture as you can.

As long as the temperature in your house is warm, you don't have to worry about blow-drying after bathing a kitten.

As soon as you release her, she will probably (indignantly) run away from you and start licking herself like crazy until she's fully dry.

wet kitten abyssinian after a cat bath

Important Note:

If you are not sure how your kitten will react to the bath, always take precaution against scratches.

If necessary, wear protective gloves or oven mitts, or hold her by the scruff as you wash her.

If the kitten bath experience just seems too stressful for the both of you, a foaming waterless cat shampoo that you rub on and off is a good substitute.

You can also cut off the fingers of latex gloves and fit them snugly over her feet and forearms ahead of time to prevent getting clawed.

Just make sure they are snug without cutting off her circulation.

When she's clean and rinsed, set her down on a towel and gently rub her dry.

She will want to run off, so don't let her go!

Get her as dry as possible with the towel.

I am not a fan of a using a hairdryer for kittens, unless she is going to be a show cat in which case she will have to get used to frequent blow dries.

It can be too startling and scary for a little kitten, and unless its really necessary just skip it.

Just make sure she has a warm spot to go to.

If she is shivering, turn up the heater in your home, or provide a hot water bottle or electric blanket for her.

The first time bathing a kitten will be very trying for the both of you, but she will get used to it and settle down the more you bathe her.

And don't get your feelings hurt that she ran off afterwards, when she has finished drying herself off she will be all purrs and snuggles with you again soon!

Some Bathtime Products to Try

This gentle oatmeal and aloe-based shampoo with natural almond oils will be just right for her delicate skin. It smells great too!

After she's dry, try using a double-sided kitten comb like this one to remove all the extra loose hair. You don't want her to get hairballs!

As a special treat try a kitty cologne spray after bathtime. The scents of fig and citrus blossoms will smell extra nice when cuddled up against your chest!

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