Cats are generally known to be self groomers. Unlike dogs, most cats are independent enough to clean up themselves without any human assistance. However, there are certain instances where bathing your cat is necessary. Learn more about when cats should be bathed, when they shouldn’t, how to do it properly, as well as how to get cats to like baths.
Should Cats Be Bathed?
If you were to ask a cat that question, they would most likely say no. In fact, cats tend to become aggressive or get irritated when you try to bathe them. After all, as they are equipped with a barbed tongue, grooming is part of their own self-care routine that they spend a lot of time doing. However, ensuring that your cat’s skin and coat are healthy is essential to your own cat’s overall well-being. And in certain circumstances, bathing your cat is inevitable.
Generally, you can tell when it is time they had a bath: when they have an extremely unpleasant odor. However, based on their breed, health condition, or age, some cats need to bathe more frequently than others regardless of the smell:
- Long haired breeds (i.e. Persian cats) need more frequent baths regardless of their self-grooming because they have more fur than they can handle.
- Thin hared breeds (i.e. Sphynx) also require periodic baths for the purpose of removing body oils.
- Elderly, obese or arthritic cats may struggle with self-cleaning and require your assistance.
When Should You Bathe a Cat?
As already mentioned, bathing a cat comes under very specific circumstances depending on various, situational factors. The reason for this is because most times, their own grooming is enough to keep them entirely clean. Find below all the instances where you must bathe your cat instead of letting them groom themselves:
- Your cat is extremely dirty or stinky: This could be a result of getting into a trash bin, walking in mud, oils, and other unknown, potentially toxic elements. Although they can clean up after themselves, the risk of ingesting something harmful is very high. Moreover, bathing them in this case helps eliminate any uncomfortable smells and cleaning up the dirt and residue from grooming.
- Your cat has pests in their fur: Common pests such as fleas, mites, ticks, and lice feed on blood, and they cause irritation, infection, and they can spread diseases. In this case, it is your job to eliminate fleas from your cat by using a proper parasite-control product – of which there are many to choose from. If you fail to rid them yourself, contact your vet, and get them professionally bathed and treated as fast as possible!
- You have a family member with a cat allergy: Giving your cat a weekly rinse helps reduce allergy-aggravating cat dander.
How Do You Bathe a Cat?
The following are the quick steps that you must take to ensure that you successfully bathe your cat. Keep in mind that cats can grow extremely irritated if you are slow. Make sure that you are quick but also efficient. Try and lather as much coat and skin as you can.
Safety measures for bathing a cat:
- Trim their nails.
- Have your supplies ready to avoid testing your cat’s patience.
- Prepare the water at a moderate temperature (for arthritic cats, a slightly warmer bath helps soothe aches and pains).
Steps to bathing your cat:
- Begin by rubbing their head in slow, circular motions.
- Avoid getting any product into their eyes, nose, mouth, or ears.
- Wet them down from the back of the neck and all the way down to their tail.
- If your cat lets you, try lathering their belly, arms and legs, behind their ears and tail.
- Rinse them well and dry them as fast as possible to avoid your cat getting too cold.
- You may leave your cat to air dry, but first soak up as much water as you can from their coat with a towel.
If your cat absolutely requires a bath but is not being cooperative, consider getting them professionally bathed.
How to Get Cats to Like Baths?
Cats do not like baths by default. However, there are some tricks you can use in order to encourage them to like them. Note that these tips do not necessarily work for every cat, just as not every cat will protest if they take a bath. As long as you successfully bathe them when you need to, cats do not necessarily have to like it.
The tips to getting cats to like baths are the following:
- Prepare them as kittens: Start bating them at an early age. The sooner you can get them used to it the more likely they will tolerate it when they get older.
- Prepare them weeks in advance: Place them in the sink or tub you are going to use without any water. Add toys and treats to help them create positive associations with the location. Once they are comfortable, fill the sink or tub with some water and encourage them play with their floating toys.
- Let them use their claws (but not on you): Place a towel at the bottom so they can get their footing while they are being bathed.
- Do not restrain them: Make sure you hold them gently while lathering and rinsing.
- Be quick: Have your supplies ready and act fast.
Bathing your cat can be necessary. Do not worry too much about them not enjoying it (up to a certain point). If you manage to get them clean, you have done a good job. They might not always appreciate it, but sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry.
Do you still have any questions about bathing your cat? Then schedule a video consultation with one of our qualified vets!