Do Cats Need Baths?

Friday, December 28, 2018 | 


A Word From Dr. Joyce Ashamalla

Do Cats Need Baths

How many cat owners shutter at the thought of giving their cat a bath? The probability of getting scratched is high, and it is almost guaranteed that your cat will be upset the minute she sees the water. However, some cat owners are luckier, finding that their cat loves the water and enjoys bath time. Grooming, including frequent brushing, keeps your cat’s coat and skin healthy, but is it truly necessary to give your cat a bath? It is a question many veterinarians frequently hear and today we will cover the basics about how often to bathe a cat and choosing a shampoo that is safe for cats.

How Often To Bathe A Cat

Cats do an amazing job of grooming themselves, but sometimes they need assistance from their humans in order to keep smelling fresh and looking clean. If your cat goes outdoors or happens to get herself into something dirty inside the house, you should give her a bath. Your cat’s activity level will also determine how often she needs a bath and greasy fur is one sign that it’s time for a bath.

The frequency of bathing your cat depends on a few other factors, including your cat’s breed and coat. Breeds like Persians or Himalayans need daily coat brushing and de-matting while most shorthaired breeds are very skilled at self-grooming and will rarely need a bath. When cat fur matts together, a skin infection can form underneath it, which is why brushing regularly is so important. If too many matts form and it is too painful to brush or comb out, then shaving may be necessary, and a professional groomer can certainly help with that. Because of the extra maintenance needed for longhaired cats, they will typically need more frequent baths compared to their shorthaired counterparts.  

No matter what a cat’s length of hair is, some have weight issues or health issues that may prevent them from doing an adequate job when they are self-grooming. Cats who are overweight may not be able to reach their entire body, while cats with health issues may be physically unable to self-groom. The general rule is that regular bathing is not required for healthy cats, while cats with certain illnesses may require more bathing. It’s always best to consult your veterinarian for advice on the frequency of bathing a cat who has health issues.

Shampoo Safe For Cats

Too many baths can remove your cat’s natural oils and cause her to have dry, flaky or itchy skin. The wrong shampoo can also have similar effects. Human shampoos, bubble bath, and dog shampoos are too harsh for cats, but there are many shampoos available which are safe for cats, including dry shampoos and wipes, which are good alternatives if your cat does not like water. A wide variety of medicated shampoos also exist, like anti-flea blends, but these should be used at the recommendation of your veterinarian only.

Giving your cat a bath can reduce shedding, get rid of fleas, and make her coat shinier. Although it can be a daunting task, it does not have to be. Gather supplies including towels, washcloths and cotton balls and make sure to be patient, gentle, and speak to your cat with a calm voice during bath time. And if you’d rather leave bathing your cat up to the professionals, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on a groomer.

If you would like to learn more about cats self-grooming habits and why cats lick their owners, click here.