Cats are notorious for hating baths and avoiding water – but there are some times when they just need a fresh bath!
It’s important to keep your cat’s coat and skin clean in order for them to stay healthy.
Bathing your cat can be a little bit of a challenge, and since cats like to clean themselves, you may be wondering how often you really need to bathe your cat.
Here’s what you need to know about giving your cat a bath, as well as tips to make this particular challenge a little bit easier!
What to Consider Before You Bathe A Cat
Some cats need to be bathed more than others, and this will really depend on your cat and your lifestyle. Here’s what to consider before you give your cat a bath.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
The biggest determining factor in how often you should bathe your cat is whether they are an indoor or an outdoor cat. Indoor cats rarely need to be bathed, but outdoor cats are much more likely to get themselves dirty to the point where they can’t effectively clean themselves.
Age and Body Type
Some cats are able to groom themselves much more efficiently than others. It’s common for elderly cats to lose their mobility, which means they may not be able to reach their hind legs as efficiently as their younger counterparts. This can also be true for very obese cats, as those extra pounds can really affect their ability to move.
Type of Coat
Long haired cats typically need baths more often than short haired cats. This is because it’s much easier for debris to get stuck in their fur. Cats of all coat lengths should be brushed regularly to prevent any kind of buildup.
There are some health conditions that will require you to bathe your cat more frequently.
For example, a cat with an allergy may benefit from bathing to wash away the allergens and to soothe the skin. This may also be true for cats with rashes, dandruff, or other skin issues.
So how often should you bathe a cat?
If you have an indoor cat, you may not necessarily need to bathe them unless they get into a mess. This is because cats are very efficient at grooming themselves. Their tongues have very small barbs on them that effectively remove debris from their fur.
Cats also love to be clean – you’ve probably already noticed that self-grooming is a huge part of your cat’s daily routine. Because of this, you really shouldn’t have to worry much about bathing your indoor cat regularly unless they get older and are unable to clean themselves.
However, it may be a different story if you have an outdoor cat. Most cats still should not need to be bathed regularly, but the likelihood of them getting themselves into a mess is much higher if they go outside. In this case, you should be washing them every four to six weeks.
When they’re spending time outdoors, they often get too dirty to effectively clean themselves. With outdoor cats, it’s best to start bathing them when they’re a kitten.
If you start them at a young age, they’ll get comfortable with the process and you won’t encounter as much resistance as they get older.
What are the benefits of bathing a cat?
While cats are perfectly capable of cleaning themselves effectively, there are some benefits to giving your cat an occasional bath.
The biggest benefit is that it will keep your cat cleaner – it helps to prevent ticks and fleas from settling in, and a bath can also remove dead skin cells, loose hair, and small pieces of debris that may have gotten stuck in your cat’s fur.
Bathing your cat can also help keep your house clean, because it will minimize shedding and can prevent your cat from tracking dirt around your house.
Tips For Bathing A Cat
Since cats typically don’t enjoy water, giving them a bath can be very tricky. A little bit of advance preparation can make bathing your cat much easier. Here are some tips to make bathing your cat easier.
Clip your cat’s nails the day before
Your cat might start to feel panicked when you try to put them in the bath, which can cause them to put their claws out. To prevent scratches, clip your cat’s nails the day before.
Play with your cat ahead of time to tire them out
Your cat will be more likely to cooperate with a bath if they are tired and relaxed. To get them in this state, try playing with them earlier in the day. After they’ve run around and calmed down, they might be more likely to cooperate with a bath.
Brush them thoroughly before putting them in the water
A good brushing session will remove loose fur, making it much easier to bathe your cat. This is particularly important for long haired cats, who are more likely to get clumps of matted fur or get small pieces of dirt stuck in their fur.
Use lukewarm water
If the water is too hot or too cold, your cat might start to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable. Lukewarm water will be the most comfortable for them, particularly if you’re planning on dunking them into the water.
Consider using a handheld sprayer
May cats understandably will not want to go directly into a full bath of water. In these cases, your cat may respond better to being wet down with a handheld sprayer. A sprayer is less intense, but is still an efficient way to get your cat nice and clean.
Use a rubber mat to keep your cat comfortable
One of the reasons why cats hate baths so much is because the surface of the bathtub is slippery, so it’s difficult for them to get on even footing. A rubber mat gives them a stable surface to stand on so they won’t feel out of control.
You should also make sure you have towels in the area surrounding the bathtub, not only to dry them off but also to dry off nearby surfaces so they won’t slip.
Massage with one part cat shampoo and five parts water
You won’t need too much cat shampoo to get a good lather. Combine one part cat shampoo with five parts water and gently massage it through your cat’s fur to get a deep clean. Start at their head and work your way back to their tail, then rinse thoroughly.
You may also want to use a washcloth for their face, as this will feel much more gentle.
Distract your cat with a toy
If you put a small floating toy in the water, it can distract your cat from the stress of the bath. This is a good way to make the bath a little more enjoyable for them.
How To Bathe A Kitten
If you start giving your cat baths as a kitten, they’ll get used to the process as they get older. Here are some tips for bathing kittens.
Use the kitchen sink
A full bathtub will likely be too large for your kitten, so use the kitchen sink, or a washing up bowl instead for an easier, more comfortable experience.
Lower your kitten into the water to soak and rinse
While the spray bottle method works well for older cats, it’s more efficient to quickly soak your kitten in water. Make sure you’re holding them securely, and lower them gently into the water to get them wet.
Massage thoroughly with cat shampoo, and then repeat the process to rinse off.
Bathing your cat can be a challenge, but it’s the most efficient way to clean them off when they’ve gotten into a mess.
Although your cat may be freaked out by the water at first, they will get used to it with some practice, and learn to love their new bath time routine. Happy bathing!