ExcitedCats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

How Do I Calm a Cat Down for a Bath? 6 Effective Tips to Try

Oh, the dreaded cat bath time. It may very well be every cat lover’s nightmare, but sometimes it must be done. We can admit that we’re grateful for their stellar self-grooming abilities, but at some point, they’ll need a full bath. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you will have a cat that is relaxed and takes a bath like a champ. If you’re like most of us, you have a challenge ahead of you.

Keeping your cat in a calm state of mind can be important to how the bathing experience goes. We have included some tips on how to keep your cat calmed down before bath time, let’s take a look:

3 cat face divider

The 6 Ways to Calm a Cat Before a Bath

1. Take Things Slowly

Any cat that is not keen on bathes is going to be nervous when the time comes. The best thing you can do is remain calm and move slowly during the process. Run the bathwater and have it at a good temperature before you even attempt to bring your cat into the room.

The loud sound of the bathwater running will likely make your cat even more fearful. Keeping your energy calm can have a large impact on your cat’s demeanor. If they sense you are nervous, they will likely grow increasingly nervous themselves. Move slowly and provide them lots of positive reinforcement.

thematic break

2. Get Them Used to the Bathtub or Sink

You can try placing your cat in the empty bathtub or sink before putting water in the bath. If you occasionally place them in that area and sit with them, providing them with lots of love, affection, and even treats, they will not view it as an unfamiliar area but will have had a stress-free, positive experience in the environment before the actual bath takes place.

cat in the bathtub
Image Credit: Irina Borodovskaya, Shutterstock

Hepper Oatmeal pet shampoo

There are lots of pet shampoos to choose from, but some are much better than others. We love Hepper's Colloidal Oatmeal Pet Shampoo because it's made with all-natural ingredients that gently clean your pet's skin and coat. This pH-balanced formula contains moisturizing aloe vera and colloidal oatmeal, and it's free of dyes, phthalates, sulfates, and other irritants. 

At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

thematic break

3. Use Essential Oils or Natural Pheromones

Cats have a sensitive sense of smell and, surprisingly, can be calmed by some essential oils. Lavender, honeysuckle, and chamomile are examples of essential oils that can have a calming effect on cats. All you need to do is apply a couple of drops of these oils on a towel or have them diluted in a diffuser. A little bit goes a long way with these oils, and you want to ensure your cat does not come in contact with the oil itself.

Feliway is a product on the market that is geared toward calming kitties. Feliway emulates the natural pheromones released by a mother cat to calm her kittens. This smell comforts and reassures cats and kittens to help with stress reduction and to prevent unwanted behaviors. It can be purchased in a spray bottle or as a plug-in diffuser.

thematic break

4. Try White Noise or Soft Music

Cats are just as sensitive to noise as they are scents, and some noises can be used for calming in stressful situations. Soft classical music varieties and even white noise machines have been recommended for use in calming cats. This isn’t just owners claiming that music could soothe their cats, there have been studies to back these claims.

cat lying between speakers
Image Credit: Anfesamo, Pixabay
thematic break

5. Try Anxiety Relief Supplements or Medication

There are some over-the-counter products available in treat or supplement form that are specifically designed to have calming effects for cats. These products typically contain L-theanine, which is an ingredient found in green tea that has been shown to naturally relieve anxiety.

Herbal supplements and prescription anxiety medication are also options, but these will need to be discussed directly with a veterinarian before use. It’s always best to consult a professional before adding any type of supplement to your cat’s regime. Having your veterinarian’s input can be quite helpful in these situations, as they will have the best recommendation for medication that could help you on an as-needed basis for stressful situations like bath time.

thematic break

6. Schedule a Play Session Beforehand

One way to help calm your cat before a bath is to tire them out with lots of play and stimulation before taking to the water. If your cat is full of energy, they will have more fights when it comes to putting them in the bath. If they have had a good amount of exercise and are feeling more tired and mellow, you may have a much easier time with the entire process.

cat playing with owner
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

Additional Information

cat + line divider


There are a few different tactics you can try to calm your cat down before they get their bath. Keep in mind that these techniques may not always be effective for all cats. If you have a cat that becomes particularly overwhelmed and anxious at bath time, consult your veterinarian for the best possible solutions to keeping them as calm as possible during the process.

thematic break

Featured Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock