How Often Should You Bathe a Cat?

How Often Should You Bathe a Cat?

Taking care of a cat’s fur is important. It is not only beautiful and delightful to touch but also very functional. It protects the cat from heat and cold. It also helps pet owners and vets determine a cat’s health and well-being.

Cats can groom on their own but they can also get themselves very dirty in which case brushing and wiping may not be enough.

How often should you bathe your cat?

According to the recommendation by the National Cat Groomers you should bathe your cat every four to six weeks. There are, however, differing opinions as some experts view bathing both unnecessary and even harmful to your cat and especially its skin and fur. 

Below are certain factors to consider in determining how often you should bathe your cat:

Indoor vs Outdoor Environment

Outdoor cats will need a bath more frequently than their indoor cats. Outdoor cats can pick up all kinds of smells, dirt and germs. They also usually get dirty faster.

Coat Length and Type

Longer coats will require more frequent bathing than short coat cats. Sphinxes or other hairless cats need occasional washing or wiping to get rid of the oils that accumulate on their skin. They can develop cat acne if they are not regularly cleaned.

Self-grooming Behavior

Cats that cannot or do not groom themselves efficiently need regular baths to keep their coat from becoming greasy or sticky.  Also, overweight cats have difficulty reaching all areas of the body, so they will need to be bathed more regularly. The back side of these cats often become matted and the skin can become itchy, flaky or even infected.

Health Issues

Issues like skin irritation, tick or flea infestation and loose stool can require more attention. Some senior cats may develop arthritis which makes it difficult for them to groom themselves thoroughly so they may need baths to help them stay clean. 

Is it necessary to bathe a cat?

Is it necessary to bathe a cat
Image: / ollegN

The answer to this is no. Domestic cats do not usually need to be bathed. Unlike dogs, cats groom themselves daily. With their barbed tongues, they can remove dirt and dust from their fur. A healthy adult cat does not require bathing unless it has gotten into something that has coated the fur and cannot be removed with brushing. Most cats do not like being exposed to water, and an unnecessary bath can be very stressful and uncomfortable for cats.

Even though cats groom themselves, their owners should help keep them clean by brushing or combing them regularly. Brushing is good for cats because it massages their muscles, grooms the places it cannot reach and promotes bonding with the cat parent. 

If your cat gets dirty enough that brushing is not enough, wash the areas that are soiled. If a cat requires a bath, it is recommended to bathe only the areas that need it. Some cats enjoy being in and around water, while many don’t like the feeling of being submerged as it causes their coats to become heavier. By only washing areas that need attention, you can help reduce the discomfort that a cat may feel.

How to bathe your cat?

If a bath is needed, follow these steps to ensure a successful and less stressful bathing:

  1. Before anything else, trim your cat’s nails if needed to avoid being scratched accidentally. You can ask assistance from a family member to interact with the cat while you clean the cat.
  2. Brush the cat thoroughly to remove any tangled or matted fur.
  3. Use a rubber mat in the sink or tub to keep your cat from slipping.
  4. Use a handheld shower sprayer to wet your pet and avoid getting water in the ears, eyes or nose. Use a wash cloth when cleaning the face area. 
  5. Use a washcloth or soft brush to apply cat-safe shampoo.
  6. Rinse your cat thoroughly and make sure all residue has been removed.
  7. Dry the cat off with a clean, dry towel and untangle its fur with a wide-tooth comb.
  8. Reward your cat with a special treat for a successful bath.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts
Image: / Alexander Pytskiy

Bathing a cat is not necessary unless the dirt in its fur cannot be cleaned by brushing or just wiping. The answer to how often you should bathe a cat depends on what kind of environment and lifestyle it has, its coat length and type, how efficient it grooms its own fur and if it has health conditions.

Cats are not always comfortable with water and may be traumatized by bathing time so make sure to be gentle to your cat, and praise and reward it after. If you also find it hard, you can consider taking your cat to a professional groomer who has the knowledge and experience to do the job.