Cats are pretty good at keeping themselves clean. If your kitty isn’t old, sick or disabled, he’s likely able to groom himself just fine. Long-haired cats may need some extra TLC during hairball season, but that could be as simple as brushing your fur baby more often.
However, it is a good idea to wash outdoor cats who come home with dirt and debris stuck in their fur. Not only do they look better when they’re cleaned up, but they’ll smell better too.
Although most cats don’t need frequent baths, some kitties may require special consideration. Older cats with arthritis or other mobility problems may have a hard time reaching every spot on their body with a tongue bath. And if you’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering a cat urine stain on your carpet (or worse), you know that getting the cat to use the litter box is an important consideration!
Should you decide to give your cat a bath, it’s best to go about it gently and carefully so there are no surprises for either of you! Keep the water lukewarm and don’t pour water directly over the cat’s head; instead use wet towels or sponges around his face since many felines aren’t comfortable having their faces washed.
Start washing from front to back: front legs/paws first, then back legs/paws and lastly his tummy area (don’t forget under his tail).
Benefits of Bathing Your Cat
- If your cat is having trouble grooming himself, a bath may help to keep him clean and free of mats.
- You may need to bathe your cat if he has a skin condition or has been treated with a topical medication. This will help remove the allergens, antibiotics or other chemicals from his fur.
If you find that your cat doesn’t like being groomed, bathing him regularly can be an alternative way to keep him clean without the daily battle of brushing. A regular bath routine can also be helpful for cats who tend to “sling” litter around when they use their litter box—bathing your cat regularly will keep dust and dander off his coat and hopefully reduce the amount of dirt that he distributes throughout your house.
How Often Should You Bathe Your Cat?
No, you shouldn’t bathe your cat unless the cat gets into something that you can’t get out with brushing. If a cat is overly dirty and can’t be cleaned by brushing, then I would say on average, at most three to four times a year would be appropriate.
If you do bathe your cat, it should be done on a regular basis, so they are used to it and they know what is happening. This will make them more comfortable during the bathing process and prevent injury to yourself or your pet during this time.
Preventing Bath Time Problems
You’ll want to be sure the room will be free from fur-raising obstacles such as cat litter trays, mouldy food dishes and other animals. If your kitty has been exposed to other cats recently, you’ll also want to ensure that you’ve kept her away from any potentially harmful viruses (another reason why it’s important to avoid communal grooming facilities). Once you’ve locked down a location, it’s time to get your supplies in order. You’ll likely only need a few items:
- A non-slip mat or towel for the bottom of the bath
- A tub of warm water
- Shampoo designed specifically for cats (never use human shampoo!)
- Gloves (optional)
Always Follow Your Veterinarian’s Advice
Always speak to your veterinarian before bathing your cat. He or she may tell you that it’s absolutely necessary, or that it’s inadvisable, depending on the health of your cat and how well they do with water. Whether it’s an immediate need or just a precautionary measure against future fleas, ticks, or hairballs, a vet can help you avoid mistakes.