How To Clean Your Cat Without Getting Hurt

Cats typically do a good job of keeping themselves clean, but there are times when pet owners need to step in. Whether your cat is disabled and can't clean itself or has just come in contact with a sticky or toxic substance that you need to remove, try these steps to avoid getting hurt while you clean your kitty.


One of the best ways to clean your cat when they've encountered a mess is to use a simple washcloth to get the job done. Rather than frightening your cat with running water, a washcloth can apply water, soap, and pressure to the direct area where your cat is grungy.

To clean your cat with a washcloth, first just dampen the cloth with water and rub your cat with it to dampen their fur. Then, rinse the cloth and apply a little baby shampoo to it. Rub the cloth together to get a lather, then rub it into your cat's fur. Pinch the fur between your fingers to apply deep pressure without getting your cat's skin overly wet. Rinse the cloth and rub your cat's fur to remove the soap. Repeat this last step until your cat's fur is free of shampoo.

Cleaning Spray

If you don't want to use baby shampoo and a washcloth, you can also use a cat-specific cleaning spray. These sprays are designed to be used without water and are good for breaking up dirt and oil. You'll still need to remove the spray and the dirt manually once it's had some time to sink into your cat's fur, however. You can use a paper towel, normal towel, or a scrap of fabric for this.

The good news about cat hygienic sprays is that they are safe for cats to consume in small quantities, so you don't have to rinse your cat's fur afterward.

Bath Tips

If your cat is too dirty for the first two tips to be effective, you may have to give your cat a bath. Here are a few basic tips to keep your cat from hurting you during a bath:

  • Avoid the Face - Never spray water directly onto a cat's face. If their head is dirty, use the washcloth tip to dampen their fur and to remove the soap afterward.

  • Don't Submerge Your Cat - If your cat feels that they're deep in water, they may panic and try to escape.

  • Use Warm Water - Cats have a higher body temperature than humans, so cold or cool water will feel particularly startling. Stick with warm - not hot - water that feels comfortable to you.

If you can't get your cat to cooperate for a bath, it may be time to call a professional pet groomer or veterinarian for help.

With any luck, your cat will be able to handle its own grooming in the future. If your cat doesn't seem to be able to groom itself effectively, consider getting a consultation with a veterinarian, such as an expert at Center-Sinai Animal Hospital, to determine if your cat has a problem.