Giving Your Kitten Her First Bath

It’s a good idea to get your kitten accustomed to bathing early on in life, so she’s very comfortable with it later. Use these steps from a River Oaks veterinarian to successfully give your kitten her first bath.

Get Her Feet Wet

Put a rubber mat in the bottom of the bathtub or sink to prevent your kitten from slipping. Fill the tub with an inch or two of lukewarm water, and try standing your kitten in it with a supporting hand on her at all times. Reassure your kitten during this process. If she struggles and appears agitated, remove her and try again later.

Dampen the Fur

Once your cat is used to having her paws submerged, stand her in the tub again. Wet a washcloth and dampen the fur of her body. Don’t use shampoo yet—you’re just getting your cat used to the feeling of having her body wetted. After a few minutes, take your cat out and dry her off with a large, soft towel.

Rinse Down

Now your cat is ready for the actual bath. Put her in the tub again and repeat the above steps. This time, instead of using the washcloth, pour water from a cup over your kitten’s body to get her fully soaked. Take care to avoid the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.


Have a cat-safe shampoo on hand to use for bathing your kitten. Contact your River Oaks vet to ask for a recommendation. With your cat fully wetted down, put a small dab of the shampoo on a washcloth and massage it into your cat’s coat, using your hands and the cloth to spread it all around the body. Again, be sure to avoid the face area.

Rinse and Dry

Once your cat has been successfully shampooed, rinse her off with water from the cup, making sure to get all soapy residue out of the coat. Remove your kitten from the tub and dry her off again, giving her lots of praise. Slip her a treat for a job well done!