Most domestic cats hate water. So it’s a good thing that they do most of their grooming themselves. And for the most part, they do an amazing job licking themselves clean with their coarse tongues. But inevitably, cat owners face a time when their cat needs a bath. This can be quite a challenge, and if you’re not careful, you might just end up bearing the scars.

Your best bet is to prepare properly for bath time:

• Get your supplies ready and lay them out within arm’s reach: cat shampoo, a brush, a towel, and wipes/washclothes.

• Recruit someone to help you. A friend, family member, or fellow cat lover are your best options.

• Fill the bathtub/sink halfway with lukewarm water before you bring the cat into the bathroom.

• Take a few moments to plan what you’re going to do—so you and your friend are on the same page or so you don’t get confused in the process. Trust us, a wriggling, meowing ball of uncomfortable kitty can make you forget everything.

• Wear a long-sleeved shirt when you bathe your cat. It’ll protect your arms from kitty’s claws.

• Move quickly and calmly through the cat-bathing process. Gently place your cat into the tub, and yes, you may need your friend to help hold her in there. Rub a small amount of shampoo in your hands and work it into your cat’s fur. Take care to keep soap and water out of her face.

• Don’t linger. Use a damp washcloth or wipe to clean kitty’s face AFTER you’ve removed her from the tub.

• If you leave soap in her fur, it can cause mild to severe skin irritations. One of the best tools for rinsing is a sink or shower hose. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to drain and run some more water.

• After kitty’s rinsed, quickly and gently remove her from the tub. Shroud her in a soft fluffy towel and carefully pat her dry. She will more than likely begin licking herself dry, too. Try to work around her, and don’t rub with the towel, especially if your cat has long hair. You’ll end up with knots.