Most cats don't like water. They are constantly grooming themselves. That said, sometimes they'll need an actual bath. Our vets in Gilbert discuss bathing your cat in this post.
Do Cats Need to Take a bath?
Cats are notorious for cleaning themselves, so they won't need to be bathed too often.
A cat's rough tongue is covered with tiny, curved barbs that spread saliva across the animal's fur. With each lap, your cat is spreads healthy natural oils across its coat and skin. These little spines also work as a natural detangler.
Routine bathing at home or with our experienced groomers can help reduce the amount of hair loss and prevent hairballs from developing.
How Often Does My Cat Need a Bath?
Your cat will need a bath if they've gotten themselves into certain situations, for example, if they've come into contact with a substance that they should not ingest such as gasoline, antifreeze, paint, motor oil or anything that can get on their fur and be harmful. These substances will need to be washed off immediately.
For some cats, baths can soothe skin conditions that may include sebhorrea, a disorder that results in flakey, itchy, red skin. Your veterinarian may also recommend medicated baths for treating issues such as fleas, allergies or ringworm.
Obese or senior cats often aren't able to groom themselves effectively and might benefit from regularly scheduled baths. Long-haired cats should be bathed about every couple of months to reduce the risk of their fur becoming matted. Hairless breeds such as the Sphynx will likely require weekly baths since they can leave an oily residue on fabrics in your home.
How To Bathe a Cat
Have everything you need within arm's reach before you start. Here are some items you'll want to have close by:
- Special cat shampoo and conditioner
- A bath or shower with a handheld shower-head
- Numerous towels to clean them off and dry them
Never use clean products intended for humans. They have a different pH level than that could damage your pet's skin or hair.
Before the Bath
Before you start you should brush your cat to remove any knots or tangles.
Set the water temperature to warm and have it running through the shower-head at a medium level spray
While talking to your cat and offering lots of reassurance and praise, gently place her into the bath. Using a shower-head from above is significantly less stressful for your pet as its like being rained on.
Hold your cat in place by their scruff, or use a harness if you think they are going to be difficult to control. Begin washing them gently using soft confident strokes. Cats know when you are stressed, so if you seem stressed they will be on edge too, and far more likely to lash out or try to make a run for it.
Apply small amounts of shampoo. Make sure you rinse clean and then repeat with the conditioner. Take care to avoid her eyes and nose.
Once they are clean you should towel-dry your cat as much as possible. Some cats do not react well to hair dryers. If your cat is okay with it you could consider trying to dry them using a low heat and speed.
You may need to confine them to a carrier in order to do this. Alternatively, you could leave your cat in the warm bathroom until their coat is totally dry.
The important thing is to ensure that they are thoroughly dried. Damp cats can easily become chilled which can make them unwell, or in the case of kittens, particularly low body temperatures can be life-threatening.
How to Bathe a Cat That Hates Bath Time
Some cats will tolerate baths, but others simply won't. When a bath is inevitable, staying calm will help you both. Here are a few tips to help keep your cat from trying to scratch and claw their way to freedom:
- Choose a time after they have eaten or played, as she’ll be more mellow
- Trim their nails before the bath
- Plan for a short grooming session to make handling her fur much easier
- Recruit a friend to help so one of you can hold the cat while the other bathes them (hopefully your friend will still talk to afterwards)
- Minimize running water, the sound causes many cats to panic
- Fill a sink with a few inches of warm water and wash only the parts you need to, then rinse thoroughly
- Use a washcloth around the face and ears
- Hire a groomer to do it for you
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.