How Often Should You Bathe Your Cat?
Cats are certainly one of the cleanest animals you'll ever have as a pet and it would be very rare not to see your feline friend giving themselves a tongue bath.
However, just because cats wash themselves regularly as part of their self-care routine, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're clean. For instance, when cats run or roll through something nasty, they may need a helping hand, similarly, some cats may even have difficulty maintaining their cleanliness on their own. Petplan takes a look at when it might be necessary to bathe your cat.
Reasons for bathing your cat
Most cats don't need regular bathing and many find it stressful to do so. The most common reason owners perceive that that their cat needs a bath is because they are dirty, particularly if your cat is a light coloured, outdoor cat. The first step to resolving this issue is to use a brush and fine-toothed comb to remove any unwanted dirt. This usually resolves most cats' issues.
However, should your cat still be soiled and stained, by grease and oil for example, they will need some extra help. Outdoor cats may need to be bathed more often than their indoor counterparts, purely because you can't control what they get up to out there in the big wide world.
It's important to remember that there are other factors impacting how often your cat needs a bath:
- How much exercise does your cat get? Higher levels of activity will probably mean more dirt.
- How are their grooming habits? Some cats, overweight cats in particular or those with thicker fur, have trouble grooming themselves and their fur can become greasy or sticky quite easily.
- How often/how much do they shed their fur?
To make sure you cat can groom themselves effectively, try to regulate their weight and see a vet if you need help.
Also, while bathing may seem like a good measure for keeping your cat clean and avoiding fleas, bathing alone, is unlikely to mitigate flea infestations though it can help.
Most cats groom themselves to try and remove fleas and it's actually much kinder on your cat to use a topical spot on parasite control product as opposed to trying to manage fleas using shampoos.
How to bathe a cat
Let's be honest, most cats hate being bathed and so you should only bath your cat when it's needed to reduce any unnecessary stress.
So how do you actually bathe your cat? We all know that most cat breeds aren't fond of water, certainly less so than dogs, let's take a look at the best way to wash your cat in a manner that minimises any potential injury or trauma to them.
First, you need to consider the kind of shampoo you'll be using. It is best to use a hypoallergenic formula. So, called ‘flea shampoos' are old-fashioned and usually ineffective and there are now more effective ways to manage flea control.
Place something non-slip in your bath or sink. Fill it with enough warm water to come up the level of your cat's belly. If your cat cannot comfortably stand on the bottom, they will be likely to panic.
If you need to wash all of your cat, then lather them from tail to neck but avoid the ears and eyes, as cats hate chemicals in their eyes as much as children do!
Once you've lathered your cat, you need to rinse them gently with either a light shower head or a jug of water. Deep water will frighten your cat and you want to make bath time as stress free as possible.
Once your cat is clean and rinsed, gently dry them with a soft towel. Most cats will not like the ‘roar' of a hairdryer. Bath time can be a particularly frightening experience for your cat in general so always be sure to offer them plenty of reassurance and treat them for being calm, and of course, if you're unsure about any part of the process check with your vet for information.
How does your cat react when it comes to bath time? Let us know in the comments below.