Does Your Cat Need a Bath?

Cat taking a a bath

When Should You Bathe Your Cat?

Bathing may be one of your favorite ways to relax, but chances are that your cat has a very different opinion. In fact, even a few drops of water may send your feline friend scurrying for safety under your bed. Despite your pet's feelings about getting wet, should you ever bathe your cat?

How Often Do Cats Need Baths?

Most cats never need baths, thanks to their efficient self-grooming system. Tiny hooked structures on the surface of your pet's tongue remove dirt and debris and distribute skin oils that keep your cat's coat sleek and glossy. In the wild, cats use these hooks, known as papillae, to remove muscle from the bone when they catch their prey.

There's no such thing as too much grooming as far as your pet is concerned. A cat may devote as much as 50 percent of its day to licking its fur, according to Catster. Feline tongues are so effective at grooming that they inspired researchers to create a new type of cleaning brush. The tongue-inspired grooming brush (TIGR) contains tiny spines that easily remove hair and debris from people and pets.

Although the majority of cats can skip baths, bathing may be needed in these situations:

  • Grooming Alone Won't Get Your Cat Clean. Your cat may need a bath if it's rolled around in something sticky or smelly or brushed against your freshly painted wall. If the substance on your pet's fur is toxic if swallowed, a bath is always a good choice.
  • Your Pet Has Long Hair. Grooming is a much more time-consuming process for long-haired cats. If your long-haired cat isn't a diligent groomer, its hair could soon become matted and dirty. Periodic baths can improve your pet's condition and appearance, although your cat may not always need a full bath. If you notice bits of feces stuck to your pet's hair, a quick wash of your cat's back end may be helpful. Trimming the hair in that area will prevent problems in the future.
  • Your Cat Doesn't Have Any Fur. Hairless cats require special care to prevent skin issues. Skin oils are absorbed by the hair in both long- and short-haired cats but they build up on your hairless cat's skin. Bathing removes the oils and keeps your cat's skin in good condition. Your hairless cat may need to be bathed one or two times a week depending on how quickly oil builds up. In between bathing sessions, gently rub your cat's body with a soft cloth that absorbs skin oil.
  • Grooming Is Difficult. A bath may be necessary if your cat struggles with grooming. Cats that are elderly, obese, or have arthritis may not be flexible enough to clean themselves thoroughly. Having dementia also affects a cat's ability to groom itself because it may forget to do so regularly.
  • Your Cat Has Fleas or Other Pests. Baths can help get rid of fleas, mites, and other bugs. Before you use flea shampoo or dip, ask your veterinarian if it's the best option for your pet. Some flea products may not be safe for kittens, older cats, or cats with health issues. A topical flea treatment might be a better option than a bath in some cases.
  • Someone in Your Home is Allergic to Cats. Bathing your cat removes saliva and dander (dead skin cells), two substances that can trigger allergic reactions. Although the effects of baths are short-lived, bathing your cat will reduce your exposure to dander and saliva. Don't bathe your cat more than once a week, as more frequent baths can dry your pet's skin. In between baths, wipe your cat's fur with baby wipes to remove allergens.

Are you concerned about your cat's coat or fleas? Contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

All About Cats: Amazing Facts About Your Cat's Tongue, 12/1/21

Central California SPCA: Is Bathing a Cat Really Necessary (or Just a Myth in Caring for Pets, 4/22/19

Purina: Do Cats Need Baths?

Readers Digest: Do Cats Need Baths?, 12/1/21

Catster:8 Facts About How and Why Cats Groom Themselves, 5/24/16

National Geographic: How Cat Tongues Work – and Can Inspire Human Tech, 11/19/18

Your First Visit is FREE

Sign up now

Office Hours

Monday:

7:30am

5:30pm

Tuesday:

7:30am

5:30pm

Wednesday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Thursday:

7:30am

5:30pm

Friday:

7:30am

5:30pm

Saturday:

7:30am

12:00pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

  • "Excellent caring staff. If I could give them a trillion stars I would. Your fur babies are in the best hands. The most caring compassionate staff you will ever meet!"
    Lori H
  • "Very caring people. I live in Clinton and it is worth the drive to them. I have been there a handful of times and the customer service has been above and beyond. Nothing but great things to say about every experience!"
    Chandra H
  • "A huge thank you to Colene for always making Lola’s visits relaxing 💜 Lola did great with Dr. Knutson. I’m happy that I’ve finally found a place that truly cares about the well being of my fur-baby 🐶 Their whole staff is welcoming and I never have to worry about Lola’s appointments."
    Amber K
  • "Every single person at Scott County Animal Hospital, whether it is one of the doctors, one of the techs or groomer or a front desk worker...EVERYONE treats us like family every time we have a contact with them."
    Debi E.
  • "SCAH has some of the most caring, compassionate and professional staff anywhere! They have treated our puppy dogs for the past 31 years and have treated each one with such kindness, knowledge and special care that we can't imagine going anywhere else. We have had some special issues with a few of our dogs and I feel like they not only did their utmost to give the best care, but also make sure that we as pet owners are part of the process. And when sadly, one of our fur babies has passed, they have given us such kindness and understanding that it makes a hard time much easier. Bless you all for your wonderful care to us and our doggies."
    Nancy N.
  • "The absolute best in the QC. Have always taken great care of our puppies and dogs throughout the years. Feels like family and always a warm welcome. Treat your pets with the best care like they are their own."
    VeronicaV.
  • "i wish all the vets offices would do this!I think it is wonderful to advertise all our fur babies and how they are doing!"
    Penny G.

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics