I have never had a long-hair cat before. We just picked up two that we rescued, and brought them home.

One of them pooped in the carrier during the drive home. There is now poop in her fur.

I tried to get as much of it out with toilet paper, then a wet rag, but I couldn't get it all, and she was getting pretty upset.

What is the best way to clean up this mess? Do I need to give her a full bath? She doesn't know us, and she's in a new environment, so the transition has been traumatizing enough; I'd rather avoid a full bath if at all possible, at least for the time being.

  • the best is to let the cat clean itself but you might help the cat to do this if you moisten the area from time to time,this will make your cat wash itself so it takes a shorter time to get it cleaned up. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 9:32

12 Answers 12


To be honest, if you get most of the chunks out and blot the dampness up as much as you can, I'd let her clean the rest of it herself. Grooming is a self soothing activity, and since she doesn't know you, you cleaning her will stress her out.

The exception would be if you know (or suspect) that she has a poop borne illness, and want to prevent the other cat from potential contamination.

Make sure the room you confine her in is warm, and change her bedding every few hours until she gets it cleaned up. It's usually recommended to confine new cats to a small room (like a bathroom) for the first couple of days anyway, so in this case I would doubly recommend bathroom confinement.


Often with cats you have to adopt a "do a little at a time strategy" as many cats do not like being restrained or roughly held down. Whichever cleaning method you use start by petting and praising them to get them relaxed, then only wipe them a few times. Afterwards pet, praise them more and give them a cat treat. You want them to associate your handling and cleaning them as a positive experience.

Repeat this a few times and your cat should be clean.

Warm water on a paper towel is one method. Use warm water so it is not a big shock to the cat.

They sell pre-moistened cat wipes as well. People use baby wipes too which are less expensive. Don't use "sanitizing wipes" since they have harsh chemicals and anti-microbials that are not tested on cats.

Some cats will tolerate baths. Just make sure the water is nice and warm (but not too hot) as if bathing a a baby.

  • 3
    Don't use human baby wipes unless you know precisely what chemicals are in them and how those chemicals affect a cats fur, skin, and oils. Always use product labelled for cats.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 21:27

I agree with Beo and Zaralynda... both are good advice. I'd like to add some other tips and perspective here too.

Cats, in general, hate bathing. However, if a cat is seriously soiled, especially with long fur that can get matted, I would try bathing the cat.

The method that seems least painful (for the human at least) is the following- get into a close-able shower area (one with doors rather than a curtain works much better) with the cat (you should be stripped for this too, or in something you don't mind getting wet & or dirty). Make the water warm before you put some on the cat, splash water on the cat very gently to get it wet. You can use a pet shampoo if you want to help get things out but if you do so make sure to rinse it out completely.

I stopped doing this with my "baby", who has problems like you describe for other reasons, because she gets hysterical during bathing. It doesn't hurt her but she just always freaks out about it. That being said I think it is worth trying if there is lots of nasty stuff in the fur (as you describe).

If bathing doesn't work (as in, not tolerated) a fallback would be to cut the masses out with scissors.

Barring those two you let your cat do it herself... but that will take longer, she might get some mats....

  • 1
    Not just "pet shampoo", but specifically cat shampoo. Dog shampoo can be harsh for cats.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 21:26
  • I think pet shampoo might be better for animals than human shampoo but sometimes I wonder, I've noticed ingredients in pet shampoo that seem a bit harsh to me. Whatever is used make sure you really rinse your pet (especially cats since they could lick up residues).
    – Dan S
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 23:36

We have a Norwegian Forest Cat who often gets mats and into plenty of messes.

I second the answers above for the most mild methods for helping your cat gently get cleaned. If you have an issue where the poop is not coming out by hand, however, you may want to consider a bath.

We do the following to clean it up when it's too much for us to "wait out" the self-cleaning process. (NOTE: I am not a professional! The following steps are what I do and may not be best for your cat! Adopt or change these steps as needed for your situation!)*

Prepare yourself with the following:

  • Baby shampoo (we use Johnson's tear-free)
  • Large plastic cup
  • Large bathroom towel (we have one dedicated for cat bath use - they will poke holes/etc. so I recommend a large, cheap towel you are not attached to)
  • Optional: hand towel
  • Optional: blow drier with cool setting
  • Optional: Two people - a helper can make this process much easier.
  • Optional: Hair brush (depends on cat hair type/cat grooming preference)
  • Optional: Thick leather gloves (if you have an exceptionally difficult cat/require protection... but in that case, it may be better to seek out a groomer or vet for assistance rather than getting clawed up)

Steps for a Hopefully Successful Bath

  1. Get the tub filled with room temperature warm, up to about 1-2 inches.
  2. Add baby shampoo to the water and gets some bubbles going. I also make sure to have a large plastic cup nearby and a spare hand towel depending on the nature of the mess.
  3. We then get the cat, bring him into the bathroom, and ensure the door is closed after us to communicate that escape is not an option - for us, making it clear that there are no escape options helps him accept that it's bath time and calm down.
  4. Slowly lower the cat into the tub, holding firmly by the scruff if he is still attempting an escape, and use the large plastic cup to cover the cat with soapy water. It helps to do this as slowly and calmly as possible. You'll learn what makes sense for your cat the more you do it. Also, use the hand towel to get any particularly funky areas. I try to talk to the cat as calming as possible throughout - it seems to be more helpful the more you know each other.
  5. If possible, run the water a tiny bit more to fill the cup with non-soapy water for a rinse. If the running water is an issue/causes a freak out, grab a pitcher and fill it with room temperature water from another room (kitchen, other bathroom) and bring it back in for the rinse. Our cats occasionally freak out about this but it's not an issue now.
  6. When the cat is thoroughly rinsed, pick up the cat and place it on the large towel. We usually have the towel on our lap while sitting on the toilet with the seat down. Once the cat is placed (we have to grab by the scruff of the neck usually) from the bath to the lap with towel, immediately take the towel and "burrito" the cat. Take up both sides of the towel and wrap loosely around the sides of the cat. This helps the cat wiggle less as you massage the towel around to help with the drying process.
  7. Optional: We use a blow dryer on the lowest, coolest setting to also help with drying the cat's hair. We make sure to cover the cat's ears as much as possible so the sound is not upsetting/damaging.
  8. Once the cat is fairly dry (not soaking wet, still moist is fine), we let the cat down in the bathroom to shake off more excess water.
  9. Optional: At this point, you could brush your cat's hair if needed. We never do as our cat prefers to pick up the rest of the grooming process from here, but your situation may be different.

At this point, we typically release the cat from the bathroom so he can chill out in another part of the house without us. He usually goes off to a spot to further dry off/complete the grooming process.

I hope your rescues kitties calm down and get into some healthy self cleaning habits. Hopefully, time and patience will yield happy, clean cats before you know it.

  • 2
    I'd only add one thing here - particularly for an older cat, but it's helpful for the younger ones too - and that's to have a radiant heater on before you start, so that once you're done with the bath the cat has a warm place to go. I found this particularly helpful for the elderly, arthritic cat who needed flea baths (before the days of the neck application flea treatments).
    – Kate Paulk
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 11:14
  • 3
    And if you do insist on using shampoo, use actual cat shampoo, certainly not human baby shampoo, Johnson's or not. -1 just for suggestion of non-cat shampoo.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 21:21
  • 1
    @JasonC Human baby shampoo is perfectly fine for cats also. I have had the recommendation given from multiple veterinarians that tear-free human shampoo works well also. You are welcome to spend your money on cat-specific shampoo if you prefer.
    – Jenothy
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 17:04
  • Also, the OP's situation was for poop cleaning, which an attempted spot cleaning did not get out. Hence, my steps are a solution for deeper cleaning situations like the OP's.
    – Jenothy
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 17:06
  • Note that No More Tears baby shampoo contains a chemical to stop tears...it does contain chemicals. Probably best to use a shampoo specifically for cats.
    – Noa a
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 21:51

This has happens a lot with long hair cats, but if you keep their litter bin clean it will happen less. Cats hate the small of their pee and poo, this is why they try to bury it. They don't like dirty litter boxes and will poo outside of it if it gets too dirty. If it gets dirty they will try to poo away from the poo in the bin but sometimes it puts them in an awkward position and causes them to get poo on their hair. Make sure the litter bin is big enough that they have room to poo.

I've had cats my whole life. I have a long hair Himalayan with a squishy face. A metal Comb is you best friend for these things. You want a comb like this:

A metal comb

This will pull most harder things out of their hair.

If the poo is softer and messy then you need to cut the hair. Sometimes the poo can get tangled up in their hair and you have to cut it out. Hopefully it wont get this bad.

If you can avoid cutting it then you need to get gloves and wash with warm water. Warm water will break it up very quickly and disolve it.


Given that you want to avoid a bath and that this is a rescue cat who doesn't know or trust you yet, I'd suggest the "little at a time" method.

Depending on how nasty the poop is, you might want gloves for this (or simply prepare ample soap and water for yourself and your grooming tools afterwards), some brushes and sharp clippers. Your main goal is to get the poop out as quickly as you can, so it's not so much of an issue if the cat's fur looks a bit odd for a while.

Start by petting the cat, then move to brushing. She'll probably be fine with the petting, and may enjoy the brushing. When the brush hits the parts of her fur that are matted with poop, you may be able to gently brush the worst of it out. If she's still fine with you, use the snips to cut out anything you can't brush out.

The key thing here is that as soon as she starts to show discomfort with the treatment, let her go - it's more work for you, but she'll come to trust you more quickly this way.

Since she doesn't know you well yet, you probably want multiple sessions with her, first to get the poop out, and also to get to know her and help her to trust you.

The answers to this question may also help: How can I safely trim matted cat fur?


I have a long-haired cat who is generally tidy, although once or twice in his 14 years he's been stricken with diarrhea for various reasons.

The way I clean his butt (and this only really applies to butts but I suppose it could be used elsewhere) is basically this:

  1. Get the kitchen sink running low pressure (not too noisy) and warm water.
  2. Wrap him gently but snuggly in a towel except for his bum.
  3. Lift him up, put him in the sink, hold his tail forward while using the towel to keep him still, and use the running water and your hand or a paper towel to get most of the feces out of his fur back there.
  4. Possibly dab him dry with the towel if he is dripping wet in the back.
  5. Put him back on the ground and unwrap the towel.

He doesn't like it of course. But it's quick. No soap, nothing like that, just quickly and painlessly get the most out with water, short and to the point.

Don't prepare him for this, don't do any kind of coaxing; just grab him gently with the towel, to the sink, release. Don't be rough with him either.

I don't praise or talk to him or anything afterwards either, just walk away (any praise risks being taken as praise for being anxious towards you when you're near the sink, anyways). Generally after this he cleans himself and finishes the job. He'll finish his cleaning, mentally recover and be back to normal soon after and approach you when he's ready. You will be quickly forgiven.

You can also help keep the cat calm throughout this whole process by doing the standard set of non-aggressive signs; slow blink, no eye contact, calm voice, etc.

The idea here is its like pulling off a band-aid. Do it quick, it won't be pleasant, but it will be done and will be forgotten quickly. The other idea is to not do anything that makes him associate this with you or any specific behaviors in any way, just take him gently by surprise and finish before he knows what hit him - i.e. don't make a big deal out of the event.

Don't do this unless the mess is beyond what the cat can reasonably take care of on their own. Remember, cats are self cleaning. You're just trying to give them a bit of a head start for a tough job here. Do only what is necessary and they will take care of the rest.


My 17 y/o had a colon resection and goes in her sleep so her butt, tail, and hips are soiled with feces daily. I wipe her after each elimination if I see it, with a dry, then damp, then dry cloth but usually she needs a butt bath once a week. Today I noticed she had dried feces in her feet...not there yesterday when I clipped her toes. I'll butt bathe her in a small shallow cat litter pan lined with a towel. On hand I'll have a two quart pitcher of warm water and a small scoop. I'll use a small cloth, my hand and a curry comb to dislodge the dried feces. I'll dry her in a towel warmed in the drier and trim any remaining debris. I use a little coconut oil as a detangler and baby shampoo to wash her.


I have a ragdoll Siamese mix with long fur, and I have found that a simple butt bath, that is, only washing the cats bottom with soap and water on a wash cloth then rinsing the cloth and using it to rinse the soap off while holding her close and speaking softly while you do, then cuddling him or her in a bath towel is very successful in cleaning a mess like this.

First, the closeness and comforting tone of voice help calm kitty and give assurance that all will be OK, and help to build a trusting bond with kitty.

I would also suggest using a comb to separate scissors and skin, and trim up the pantaloons or fur in that area. Additionally, try feeding kitty hairball remedy nightly to help with any hairball related issues.

Remember, since kitty is new that bonding needs to take place in all aspects of care including grooming. Even if kitty gets upset at getting a little wet, he or she will eventually get over it and come to except that sometimes they need to be washed. It would be more stressful to leave that in the kitty's fur since they may not be able to get it all cleaned out themselves, thus resulting in the scooting butt boogie and skid marks on both carpeted and non-carpeted floors and a bigger mess for you to worry about.

The first weeks in home for a kitty should be about bonding and trust. It is not a good idea to just yank the poop out, as like with humans, that area is very sensitive. You can give your pet a treat when you are done to show kitty how much you love him or her and appreciate being allowed to help him or her clean up. This also encourages kitty to come to you when she needs help with grooming issues as well as other issues instead of hiding. I would suggest using one of your old brushes with your scent on it to brush kitty's fur from the beginning and alternate brushing with gentle strokes of the hand so that kitty associates grooming with love and with you.

Praise and treats reinforce kitty's cooperation and good behavior during grooming.

I would avoid trying electric clippers or razors, as they tend to be quite scary and probably irritating to kitty's ears and may cause undue stress and injury for both you and kitty.

Pets are a lot like children in many ways. It is true they are very independent, but nonetheless they still depend on you for the food and water they get, a warm bed, a place to go poop, whether it's walking puppy or keeping kitty's litter clean, and definitely lots of love. The more love you give them, the closer they will get to you and the more they will show you love in return. They show affection, by the way, by bunting (grooming you and rubbing their head against you), snuggling you, rubbing against you when asking for food, and of course bringing you gifts, such as one of their recent kills if they hunt, or even by helping to keep your home bug free. These are just a few ways kitties show their love for you and thank you for all the love and care you give them.


My cat tries so hard but has never been able to get her bottom totally clean. I can see in her eyes that it makes her sad. I usually do this every other day. This remedy is quick and easy for both of us. I prepare ahead of time.

  • clean comfy blanket on living room floor
  • clean towel on bathroom floor
  • pile of cheap wash cloths cut in half
  • bowl of mildly warm water
  • trash pail
  • cat brush or comb

    1. I start by brushing and petting. It helps her relax.

    2. I use 1 very wet warm cloth to wipe 1 time only, then discard it.

    3. I start around the tail and work my way down.

    4. Then I use a couple dry cloths just to blot the excessive water on her fur.

I wash my hands, close the bathroom door, clean the mess later and lead my cat to her clean blanket on the living room floor where she is rewarded with her fave treats. Now, I can see in her eyes that she's very happy.


I woke up yesterday with my long haired cat being a bit restless. As I took a closer look, she had 5 pieces of poop stuck to the fur at her butt.

I tried to pull them off but she didn't like it so i grabbed a little paraffin oil and massaged it to the area with the poop.

After this, the poop came off easily. I bought a trimmer to get rid of the long hair at her butt and the oily parts so it doesn't get stuck. I hope that the trimming helps to prevent the poop getting stuck anymore.


We have 4 long haired cats. When our oldest eats the wrong food, she'll have diarrhea the next day. When this happens, we follow these simple steps:

  1. The one noticing it will yell "Kakapo!" (German for poop butt, not related to the flightless birds with the same name) to alarm the other.
  2. Grab the cat and take her to the bath room.
  3. In the meantime the other one gets the pet hair trimmer/scissors.
  4. Close the door. (If you're alone, close the door first, then get the trimmer or scissors.)
  5. Secure the cat by pushing her down gently. Maybe put one hand below its tummy so it will raise its butt.
  6. Start cleaning the poop with toilet paper (so you can flush it easily).
  • If there's only little poop, just clean up as much as possible and let it do the rest.
  • If there's more than the cat can handle, trim these parts of the fur. Be very careful not to hurt the cat by accidentally cutting into the skin.
  • If the amount is huge or there's poop at places you can't/don't want to trim (like its paws), put her in the bathtub or shower stall and gently clean off the poop with a weak jet of water from the shower head at a lukewarm temperature. You don't need soap as poop is easily soluble in water. Then try and rub it somewhat dry. The cat will clean the rest.

Bigger chunks have to be cut out of the fur.

Afterwards thoroughly clean the surrounding area and any tools used (hair trimmer, scissors). Especially if the reason for the accident is some illness, to prevent infection of other household members.

We've done this often over the past years and our cat still loves us until today. It's important to stay calm yourself and be quick. Don't worry if it's going to hide for a while after the procedure.

PS: All of our cats are (kind of) used to an electrical hair trimmer designed for pet hair (the shaving head is finer than for human hair so it gets stuck less). Since yours aren't, use good scissors instead (e.g. get a new one from a barber, there are also specialized pet fur scissors, but they aren't any better or worse at cutting fur from my experience).

PPS: If accidents happen more often, consider trimming the fur that may get hit often to prevent too much poop from sticking in it in the first place. We've formed a habit of keeping the fur around her butt and the back of the hind legs down to her ankles short. The occasional trimming isn't stressing her as much as getting caught, secured and butt-wiped.

PPPS: If you really want to use one, ask a professional pet groomer about a good one, especially designed for cats. As mentioned in another answer, dog skin and cat skin differ and dog shampoo should not be used on cats. Additionally in most countries, soaps/shampoos for pets get tested less than human equivalents and can be quite hurtful for them. We've never used soap.

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