How to bathe a kitten

From bestreviews.com
By
Melissa Nott

Safely bathe your kitten

Although adult cats are relatively clean animals who groom themselves, kittens are a different story. These little ones have a tendency to play in their litter boxes, drip food on themselves and generally pick up dirt and grime as they go about the business of growing into cats.

Bathing a kitten serves several purposes: it removes residue and bacteria that could otherwise fester on the skin; it accustoms the animal to water and bathing, which could come in handy when they’re older; and it also helps you keep your home clean, which in turn makes it a better place for everyone — including your furry little bundle of joy.

Determine if your kitten is ready for a bath

Before the age of eight weeks, kittens have little body fat and are unable to regulate their body temperature. If the kitten’s mother also lives with you, she should bathe her kitten until it reaches eight weeks. If that’s not possible, you will need to pay extra-special attention to the water temperature and the kitten’s comfort during the bath.

Another reason to wait until your kitten is a little older: the experience will be jarring if the cat is not yet accustomed to being handled by humans. PetMD advises to hold off on bathing until the kitten is comfortable being handled while dry.

Prepare your kitten for a bath

Trim the claws

To protect yourself from scratches during the bath, trim your kitten’s claws first. Use claw clippers that you feel comfortable with, whether that is a pair of scissors-style cat nail clippers or guillotine-style cat claw clippers. Snip just a little at a time to protect the cat from accidental injury. And if your kitten is just not cooperating, many vets can trim your kitten’s claws at an appointment, too.

Brush the fur

Brush your kitten before putting him in the tub to remove excess fur that could clog your drain. For long-haired kittens, you may wish to use a de-shedding tool like the FURminator.

Bathing supplies for your kitten

Since cats are not always cooperative in water, it is important to have all your materials ready ahead of time.

Cat shampoo

Choose a gentle formula designed for cats. If your kitten has a particular issue, such as dry skin, consider using a shampoo fortified with aloe and oatmeal. To avoid having to rinse your cat at all, consider a shampoo that doesn’t need rinsing, like Burt’s Bees Waterless Shampoo for Cats.

Towels and bath mat

Have several towels at the ready: a smaller one to grip your kitten while they’re still in the tub; a larger one for drying off the kitten; a towel for the floor; and a towel for yourself. Reserve a baby washcloth or two for your kitten’s introduction to the water. If you’re bathing your kitten in the bathtub, position a bath mat right next to the tub to kneel on and to catch additional drips.

Tub

The bath water should only be a few inches deep, so if your regular bathtub seems too big for your tiny kitten, consider confining them to a smaller space, such as a plastic basin or baby bathtub. We like the color-changing drain of the Boon SOAK baby bathtub because it lets you know just how comfortable the water temperature is — an especially important consideration for kittens under eight weeks of age.

Bathtub thermometer

Your kitten’s bath water should stay between 100 and 103 degrees, according to PetMD. The best way to keep tabs on water temperature is to use a baby bath thermometer. We like the Turtlemeter by Ozeri because it’s waterproof and easy to read, and it doubles as a bath toy for frisky felines.

Rinsing cup

Keep a plastic cup on hand for rinsing your kitten. Fill the cup directly from the tub to be sure the water you use is at a comfortable temperature.

Kitten treats

You’ll want to reward your kitten for their good behavior in the bath, so keep some soft kitten treats on hand if they’re old enough for solid food. If the kitten is not ready to chew solid food, assemble a few kitten toys instead. The idea is to teach your kitten that after an unpleasant bath, they’ll receive a pleasant reward.

Bathe your kitten

With your supplies aligned, it’s time to bathe your kitten. Enlist the help of a friend if you can; four hands are better than two. To calm the kitty, gently scruff them by pinching the loose skin on the back of the neck. This simulates something their mother cat would do that can help calm your kitten.

Begin slowly, using your baby washcloth to gently moisten the paws, legs, and trunk. Once the kitten has become accustomed to the water (and you are certain the temperature is comfortable), you can introduce the kitten to partial submersion in the bath water. Remember, it shouldn’t be any deeper than a few inches.

Apply no more than a dollop of shampoo to the kitten’s body, avoiding the face, ears, and rectal area. Using your cup, gently rinse the kitten three times to remove all soap. Once the kitten has been rinsed, remove them from the bath and towel them dry. Never use a hair dryer to dry a kitten, as this could burn their skin.

Reward the kitten after the bath is over with more treats, toys, and/or love. You cannot possibly spoil your kitten when it comes to teaching them that a bath can be a pleasant and rewarding experience.
 

Melissa Nott is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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