What Cats Need Baths, And How To Do It Effectively

Most felines aren't fans of water. So, do cats need baths?

Bath time can be a scary venture for cat owners. While cats enjoy a good brushing and tolerate getting their nails trimmed, most of our feline friends run in the opposite direction as soon as they see water. Regular bathing can lead to a grumpy cat and, if you're not careful, some scratched-up arms. Taking your cat to the groomer is another option for cat care, but professional grooming can become expensive and there is no guarantee that it will be stress-free for your pet. Plus, cats naturally groom themselves throughout the day. So, do they really need baths?

Do Cats Need Baths?

orange cat sits in a tub and gets a bath

Cats are known for their self-grooming habits, which leaves pet owners wondering whether or not they need to give their cat a regular bath. For most cats, self-grooming gets the job done—but there are a few exceptions.

Cats with long hair, like Persian cats, have a lot of ground to cover and can develop matting in some areas of their body that they can't reach on their own. Long-haired cats require regular brushing and may even need a trip to a professional groomer to properly trim their hair and remove tangles. Meanwhile, hairless cats like the sphynx also need to be bathed. Since this cat breed does not have any fur, body oils can accumulate on the animal's skin. A weekly cat bath will remove the oils and prevent any possible uncomfortable skin conditions.

Overweight cats can benefit from bathing, too. Due to their larger size, it can be impossible for them to reach and clean areas like their tail, paws, and ears. Adult cats may also need more help with grooming as they age, with some senior cats just stopping altogether. Our 17-year-old cat gave up on grooming at 15 and left the responsibility to us.

Another reason a cat may need a bath is if they develop health issues like fleas, parasites, or lice. In this case, your kitty will get a bath with special cat shampoo.

How to Bathe a Cat

Cat gets a bath

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Some cats can be bathed with warm water and a washcloth, and that is sufficient. However, sometimes your cat needs a more traditional bath. Here are some steps to make bathing your cat a little easier.

Gather everything you need.

Having all of your cat grooming tools close by will make the process much easier. Grab a towel, cotton balls, cat shampoo, rubber mat, blow dryer, and a brush. Make sure you do not use dog or human shampoo. Cats can only tolerate shampoo specifically made for them. You may want to have some treats on hand, too!

Warm the water.

You can bathe your cat in a sink or the bathtub. Use lukewarm water, since your cat's skin is very sensitive. A nice even temperature will also keep your cat calm.

Time to wash!

Put the rubber mat or a towel in the sink or tub to give your cat something solid to stand on. Follow the instructions on the cat shampoo and lather it on your cat's fur. Be careful not to get water into your cat's ears or eyes. Offer treats as you go to keep the experience pleasant and rewarding for your cat. Rinse all the soap out of your cat's fur with a handheld sprayer or a cup.

Dry thoroughly.

Use a towel to dry your cat's body, tail, and paws thoroughly, and use the cotton balls or swabs to dry and clean your cat's ears. You can also use a blow dryer on low if your cat tolerates it. Run a brush through your cat's coat to keep it smooth and prevent mats. You can also use this time to trim your cat's nails and brush their teeth.

How often do you bathe your cat? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page. 

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