How Often Should You Bathe a Cat



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You don’t need to bathe your cat regularly to keep its skin healthy and its coat clean. Cats are fastidious groomers. However, there are some exceptional circumstances where you must wash it when it’s unable to clean itself. Bathing it might be challenging as most cats don’t like water, and it can become a stressful experience for it when not executed correctly.

Keep reading as I share with you every query, from how often you should bathe your cat to how to introduce it to bathing – and relevant information to keep your cat’s fur shiny and help it stay clean.

How Often Should You Bathe A Cat. A wet tortoiseshell cat with both front paws on the rim of a white bath with green tiles.

Does a Cat Require Frequent Bathing?

Typically, your cat doesn’t need frequent baths, and you shouldn’t bathe more than every six weeks, but how often you need to do it depends on several factors.

  • If you have an indoor cat, it won’t require much bathing, but outdoor cats may need more frequent washes.
  • Those with longer coats may need more frequent bathing than the ones with short hair.
  • Cats suffering from medical conditions like arthritis, obesity, or other terminal illnesses might require some help with grooming.

Unlike dogs, cats rarely need a bath, as they clean themselves by licking any dirt, grime, or foreign substance clinging to their coat. Their barbed tongues keep the short hair clean from these substances. However, if you have a medium-haired or long-haired cat, it may need additional help with grooming.

Regular brushing is an excellent way to keep loose hair at bay and remove tangles and matted fur from the cat’s coat. In addition, brushing it fosters a bond of trust between your kitty and yourself, making it easier to bathe it when required.

When To Bathe Your Cat

Even though regular baths are not necessary for your kitty, there are several scenarios where bathing is imperative, like coming into contact with the following:

Sticky Substances

Your feline friend might come in contact with a sticky substance like glue, oil, outdoor grime, or sticky food in the kitchen. Instead of brushing the cat, bathe it – a full bath may not always be necessary, but washing the affected area may suffice.

A Smelly Substance

Cats sometimes get dirty while exploring the surroundings. For example, if your cat has been in contact with a smelly substance from a garbage can, the smell can’t be removed by brushing or self-grooming. You may need to bathe it in such situations to stop your nose from crinkling.

A Toxic Substance

An open paint can, fertilizer bottle, or anything toxic must be immediately removed through bathing. Avoid letting your cat self-groom, as it will increase the chances of ingesting these harmful chemicals.

Preparing Your Cat

If your cat is unfamiliar with a bathing routine, start slowly, as it will become stressed and even panic if you start the bathing process immediately. For example, instead of putting it directly under water, take a damp cloth and start cleaning it, allowing it to trust you with what you are doing. Then, continue to dampen the towel more every time until it is ready to take a water bath.

If you ever feel your cat is panicking or becoming agitated, immediately stop and start petting it so it knows what you are doing is safe.

Bathing Your Cat

Here are some steps a cat owner can follow to make the experience less stressful for you and your furry feline.

  1. Ensure your cat stays calm during bath time. Then, before heading towards running water, play with it to bring its energy levels down.
  2. Place a rubber mat to prevent it from slipping.
  3. Don’t have the water too deep – aim to have enough warm water to almost leg height.
  4. Remember not to point the shower head directly at its face. Your feline friend might become fearful of being sprayed.
  5. Start washing your cat’s legs with warm water, providing a positive experience and decreasing the chances of agitation.
  6. Slowly move towards the belly and back, and ensure you are using warm water. Avoid using a human shampoo as it can remove the excess oils, resulting in dry skin. Instead, you can use a cat shampoo containing skin conditioning substances to keep the skin clean and nourished.
  7. Your veterinarian will advise a medicated shampoo if your cat has a parasite infestation or a fungal infection.
  8. After thoroughly massaging the shampoo, rinse its coat to remove any residue or loose, long hair.
  9. Use a warm towel to dry your cat’s fur gently. Most cats will want to run away and groom themselves after a bath.

The bathing routine is the same whether you have hairless breeds or long-haired cats. You can get assistance from a family member if your cat has had a prior negative experience with water.

Brushing Your Cat

Brushing your cat is imperative, as a full bath is not always required. Regular brushing will reduce the number of baths it requires. Not only will brushing remove dead hair, but it will take care of dander and improve the skin’s blood circulation.

Brushing your cat regularly can keep its coat shiny, clean, and glowing.

Final Thoughts on Bathing Your Cat

While maintaining good health and hygiene is crucial, bathing your cat too often must be avoided, as it strips away the natural oils produced by the cat’s skin, making the skin flaky and dry. Lastly, if you are unfamiliar with bathing one, it’s best to call in a professional groomer or take a few grooming lessons, ensuring you don’t leave your pet traumatized.

Before you go, you may find these articles helpful:

How To Bathe A Cat

How To Clean Cats’ Teeth

How To Trim Cat Nails

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