Monday, December 3, 2012

Does Your Cat Need a Bath?

Kit Kat - my favorite cat patient.
Over the years, I've come across many cat owners that want to know if they should give their cat a bath. Well, if you're a cat I have some good news for you. The answer is usually no. Cats are meticulous groomers and shouldn't need to take a bath. However, there are some exceptions to that rule. (Sorry kitties) If your cat is healthy, young, and appears to be relatively clean and has no matted fur, then they probably don't need a bath.

Giving a cat a bath can be pretty stressful for both parties. Most cats do not like to take baths, although I have bathed a couple that were very well behaved for the bathing process. Giving your cat a bath could also be dangerous, resulting in injuries. Especially if you don't know what you're doing. Even if you do know what you're doing, you could still get hurt.

If you find external parasites like fleas on your cat, a flea bath is not the best choice for getting rid of them and could actually do more harm than good. A flea bath will also not prevent fleas from returning. There are many other parasite prevention options to choose from, which you can discuss with your cat's doctor. Sometimes, young kittens who are infested with fleas can be bathed since they are too little for many flea preventatives.

A "well-fed" kitty.
Cats that are overweight may not be able to groom themselves sufficiently. It is harder for fat cats to reach all the places on their body that require grooming. This usually results in matted fur and excessive dandruff along their spines and around their rear end. This can be pretty uncomfortable for them. I've seen cats with this problem go wild when these problem areas are scratched. They become so itchy in these spots but can't do anything about it.

Overweight cats can benefit from more than just baths. A hygiene clip can help immensely. A hygiene clip is done at a veterinarian or grooming facility. Fur is trimmed away from a cat's rear end with clippers so that fecal material or urine can't get stuck there. Senior cats can also benefit from hygiene clips.

Senior cats might need some extra grooming help.
Older cats are also an exception to the bath rule. As cats age or become ill, they may not groom themselves as well as they should. It may not be necessary to bathe the cat's entire body, but rather just their problem areas. This might reduce the stress from completely bathing them. Regular brushing can help prevent their fur from matting as well. Mats can be very painful for cats actually. I have seen severely matted cats that when their matted fur was shaved away, there was a scar underneath. The scar does not go away.

Of course, normal healthy cats could certainly encounter something sticky, stinky, or dirty that requires the much dreaded bath. If you're cat gets into mischief and needs a clean up, good luck! Just kidding! Here are some tips for bathing your cat at home.

  • Trim your cat's nails before a bath!
  • Tire out your cat by playing with them for a while before bath time. 
  • Get help from someone else. It's easier to bathe a cat with two people. One person can hold the cat while the other does the lathering. 
  • Try to avoid your cat's head. You don't want to get soapy water in their eyes. 
  • Have all of your bathing supplies ready to go when it's time to bathe. 

Do you have any other good tips for bathing your cat at home?


  1. thank you for visiting our blog. We can give you some information about bathing cats. Our cat guardian, Diamond was sixteen when he went to the Rainbow Bridge. His carer Lynettea bought special tissues called Kittywash tissues and gave him a nice rub over with these every couple of days. He seemed to enjoy it when we saw him having a wash. Sometimes she washed him with them outside in the sunshine and we could see it happen.
    best wishes from Princess Aurora (Shubunkin)

    1. Thanks for visiting Princess Aurora the Shubunkin! Great advice, I like those kitty bath wipes too.

  2. Cool for kitties, I guess! But here where I lives, it's really hot and cats get smelly so they do sometimes shower them

  3. Urg, Domeek has only had to bathe a cat a couple of times...but she's always left in tears! That whole claw clipping is a great tip!! :-) Believe me, my brothers definitely don't want a bath!

    1. I'm sure you are MUCH more behaved than them Goosey!

  4. Yikes I shudder at the mention of a bath. No way! Well no way if I can help it. Maybe after rolling in poop though. Have a marvelous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  5. Hi Ann,please come by as we have given you an award,xx Speedy and mum

  6. Hey it's Jet here. Hi Miss Ann.

    GREAT info... very helpful.

  7. I can see that there would be special circumstances that warrant bathing a cat, but you are right, otherwise you don't have to! I had my Bobo 18 yrs and never bathed him and he was quite clean!

  8. Good advice! Mommy also used the kitty version of wet wipes on old Unca Caleb when he got too old to bathe himself (he was almost 20).

    1. Those wet wipes can work wonders... amazing when cats get to live to be around 20 years old!

  9. Great information. My mom person tried bathing one of our kitties ONCE. Chloe was fine, but my mom person looked like a scratching post!

    Nubbin wiggles,

  10. If you ask my white and orangey kitty, his advice would be take kitty in the shower with you. He does not seem to mind a bit.

    But if you ask my brown stripey kitty, his advice would be don't do it!

    They both give themselves plenty of baths though :)

  11. Great idea about clipping the cat's nails before bathtime. Mommy wishes she had thought of it before bathing the new kitten. Live and learn.


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