Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


How to Give a Cat a Sponge Bath

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Two buckets, tubs or large bowls

  • Cat shampoo

  • Lukewarm water

  • Two large towels

  • Wash cloth or sponge

  • Grooming glove, fine toothed comb or soft cat brush

  • Cotton balls

  • Cat treats

It is rare that a cat needs a bath. Most cats are scrupulous in their grooming and need little help from their humans. However, there are times when your cat may get into grease, mud or other substances that will require a bath. If your cat is ill and unable to groom herself, you may need to bathe her. Giving your cat a sponge bath will get the cat clean without exposing you cat--or you--to the trauma of a bath in a tub. Be calm and confident as you approach your cat’s sponge bath.

Fill the buckets, tubs or bowls with lukewarm water.

Assemble all the supplies you need within arm’s reach of where you will sit to bathe the cat.

Sit down and place a large towel across your lap.

Place your cat in your lap. Pet and talk to the cat until she is calm and relaxed.

Groom your cat using a grooming glove, fine-toothed comb or soft brush. Ensure you remove all loose fur and mats.

Put cotton balls gently into each of your cat’s ears. This will prevent water from getting inside during her bath.

Dip the washcloth or sponge completely into one of the tubs of water and wring out most of the water.

Use the washcloth to moisten the cat’s fur.

Place a tiny amount, about the size of a pea, of cat shampoo in the palm of your hand.

Massage the shampoo into the cat’s fur--adding more shampoo if necessary, but the less you use, the better--until you have attained a lather.

Dip the sponge or washcloth into the bucket of water and wring out most of the water.

Rub the cat’s fur with the washcloth or sponge to begin removing the shampoo.

Dip the washcloth or sponge into the bucket of water and wash out the shampoo. Wring the washcloth or sponge out and repeat the rinsing process until all of the shampoo is out of your cat’s fur.

Towel dry your cat as much as possible.

Keep your cat inside and in a warm area until her fur is completely dry.

Give your cat a treat for behaving so well during his bath.


  • It may be helpful to have a friend hold the cat during the bath. However, you want to restrain the cat as little as possible. The more you restrain the cat, the more anxious she will become about the process.