Are Cats Clean Animals?

Are Cats Clean Animals

Still on the fence on whether you should get a cat or not? One factor that might help you in your decision-making process is determining whether your chosen pet will be a messy housemate or not.

Are cats clean animals?

Yes, cats are clean animals, especially when compared to dogs. Their reputation for being fastidious creatures is true as most cat owners will attest. 

Cats can spend as much as half of their waking hours cleaning themselves. Furthermore, they have a disdain for dirt and bad smells. In fact, unless a cat is sick or obese, you will not see him look dirty or smell bad. Typically, when a feline looks disheveled and smells awful, it indicates that something is wrong with the cat.

For felines, cleanliness and good hygiene are synonymous with survival. Understand that cats are both predators and prey. And as such, hiding their scent through grooming gives them the upper hand in stalking prey and hiding from larger animals that can potentially attack them.

But how clean are cats exactly and how do they stack against dogs and humans in the cleanliness department?

Are felines cleaner than dogs?

If you are choosing between getting a cat or dog on possible criteria to take in to account is that cats are cleaner than dogs.

For starters, a cat will instinctively spend hours and hours cleaning himself because it is necessary for his survival and protection in the wild. On the other hand, because canines are considerably larger, they do not have to worry much about being the target of larger animals searching for their next meal.

Furthermore, dogs are not as flexible as cats. Although most dogs will spend some time cleaning and grooming themselves, they can only reach a small part of their bodies. Dogs will usually concentrate their grooming efforts on their paws and private parts.

Felines, on the other hand, are imbued with great flexibility, allowing them to reach areas that may be too difficult for dogs. That also means that cats will require less assistance from their human companions when it comes to grooming

When it comes to pooping and peeing, cats still have the advantage when it comes to cleanliness. For one, dogs need to go outside to handle their business. That means that they can bring dirt and debris when they go back indoors. 

Cats, on the other hand, know how to use the litter box instinctively. They know how to cover their urine and feces which is another offshoot of their survival instinct. Apart from that, cats will clean their bodies after pooping or peeing. Dogs will rarely do that.

Are cats cleaner than humans?

How do cats compare to people when it comes to cleanliness?

Although cats are cleaner than dogs and spend a sizable amount of time cleaning and grooming themselves, cats are not cleaner than humans.

For starters, bathing one’s self with saliva is not a good replacement for a shower or bath with soap and shampoo, whether you are a human or animal. The active ingredients in personal care products like soaps and shampoos make people cleaner than cats.

Furthermore, cats cannot brush their teeth like humans. Human and animal mouths can harbor thousands or even millions of microorganisms, plenty of which can be harmful. And most of these microorganisms can be successfully eliminated through toothbrushing. 

Of course, you can always brush your pet’s teeth with toothpaste formulated for pets. But left on their own devices, cats will have dirtier teeth and mouth compared to people.

Are cat mouths clean?

No, cats mouths are not clean. As previously mentioned, cats cannot brush their teeth as people can. This means that their mouths are dirty and contain harmful microorganisms. One particular microorganism you should watch out for if you do decide to get a cat is the Pasteurella multocida. Cats can transmit this bacteria through bites.

Furthermore, when a cat cleans his body, including his butt, some of the dirt and microorganisms inevitably get transferred to the mouth through the tongue. 

As much as possible, you should avoid kissing your cat. If you get bit by your pet, you should administer first aid to yourself immediately and proceed to a medical facility.

Are cat paws clean?

No, a cats paws are not generally clean. Cats will clean all the body parts that their tongue can reach, including their paws. But it does not necessarily mean that a spotless paw is a clean paw.

You have to remember that even if a cat lives indoors exclusively, he will still use his litter box. And while the cat will do his best to remove dirt and even fecal matter from his paws and toes, it is still possible for harmful microorganisms to stick and remain on those.

One harmful bacteria that can be found in cat feces is Toxoplasma gondii which causes the infection known as Toxoplasmosis. When a pregnant woman is infected with Toxoplasmosis, her unborn child could suffer from birth defects.

Cats can also have the bacteria known as Bartonella in their claws and skin. These microorganisms cause Bartonellosis which in turn can cause symptoms like brain fog, muscle pain, fatigue, headaches, fever, and swollen glands.

The spread of these microorganisms can be prevented by washing a cat’s claws. Litter mats, on the other hand, can help prevent small bits of litter from sticking from a feline’s paws after using his box.

Are house cats dirty animals?

In general house or indoor cats are cleaner compared to felines that spend time outdoors. An indoor cat is less likely to walk on the soil, sand, or other dirty surfaces.

Furthermore, going outside also increases a cat’s vulnerability to parasites like mites and ticks. 

Is it cruel to wash a cat?

No, it is not cruel to wash a cat, especially if he needs to. Fortunately, those instances are far and few in between. Unless your cat has rolled himself in the mud or got a sticky substance on his coat, you do not need to bathe him, although washing his paws regularly is highly recommended.

Veterinarians discourage pet owners from washing their pets frequently because it washes away oils from a cat’s body. 

Why does a cat stop grooming himself?

Rarely will you find a cat that looks dirty and smells bad. And rightfully so. After all, felines spend much time cleaning and grooming themselves.

However, it is also possible that a cat will stop grooming himself entirely. Typically, this occurs as a symptom of a larger problem.

For example, a cat that is obese may be unable to reach some of his body parts due to his heft. Eventually, he may stop grooming these body parts due to the difficulty of reaching these.

A sick cat, on the other hand, may also stop cleaning himself. In fact, behavioral changes like this are one of the things a cat owner should watch out for.

Finally, senior cats may also stop grooming themselves because of joint problems and mobility issues. 

How to keep your cat and home clean

Although cats are one of the cleanest creatures, owning one entails a fair amount of cleaning, from your actual pet to your home.

If you are keen on adopting a cat, here are a few tips to help make your life easier.

1. Bathe your only when necessary.

Cats can do a terrific job cleaning themselves. However, you may still need to give your furry little pal the occasional bath. This is particularly true if your pet is a long-haired cat.

To make life easier for you and your cat, put a non-slip mat on the sink or bathtub. Be sure to use warm water and dry your cat as quickly as possible.

2. Brush your cat’s fur regularly.

A cat’s tongue contains tiny spines that help him remove dirt and even parasites from his coat. These tiny structures can also tease knots and tangles.

However, your cat will still need regular brushing. Cats with short to medium coats can get away with weekly brushings while long-haired felines like the Maine Coon need to be brushed daily.

3. Keep fur at bay with a vacuum cleaner.

One reality that prospective cat owners must face is that cats shed

While you cannot prevent your pet from shedding fur, you can limit the amount of fur in your home by vacuuming regularly. How often you should vacuum will depend on the length of your pet’s coat and the type of fabrics in your home.

4. Schedule regular litter box cleaning.

Scoop feces and urine clumps off the litter box daily. And as much as possible, clean and disinfect the box at least once a week.

Apart from helping contain bad smells, cleaning the litter box ensures that your cat avoids potential medical and behavioral problems. Cats dislike using dirty and smelly litter boxes.


Cats are one of the cleanest creatures that you can find, spending hours grooming and cleaning themselves daily.

However, you should be aware that your cat can harbor harmful organisms that can cause diseases. Additionally, your cat will shed, spreading hair all over your home.

If you are planning on adopting a cat, you will need to embrace the idea that you will need to clean both your pet and your home regularly.