Do Cats Need Baths? (a grumpy gray cat receives a bath in the tub)

Do Cats Need Baths?

It’s an experience that neither of you enjoy.

Here, we answer the age-old question: Do cats need baths?


We all know the old adage—cats and water just don’t mix. And the beauty of being a cat owner is how self-sufficient they are. They mainly eat on their own schedule and bathe themselves, so all you really need to do is clean the litter box regularly and provide some love when they want it.

But just because you see your cat grooming itself regularly doesn’t mean it’s doing a very thorough job. And because a clean cat is a healthy cat, it’s important to make sure you’re taking the best care of your feline friend.

Sometimes your cat’s normal bathing routine isn’t enough, and you need to step in. That’s where cat baths come in. Read on to learn when your cat might need a bath and how to go about bathing your furry friend.


cat licking paw to clean itself

When To Give Your Cat a Bath

Your cat’s regular cleaning routine is suitable for everyday cleanliness, but if it likes to play outside a lot, it will need some extra help with all that dirt. Just like if your cat came across some wet paint, cement, or another foreign substance, they wouldn’t be able to clean their fur all by themselves.

If your cat comes down with fleas, ringworm, or another skin condition, a bath with special medicated soap is your best cleaning option.

Obese and elderly cats who are less able to groom themselves regularly will also need your help bathing from time to time.

One breed of cat that is the exception to the bathing rule is the hairless cat. Because they have no fur, hairless cats cannot absorb oils that keep their skin moisturized. If you have a hairless cat, you’ll want to bathe it every few weeks.



How To Give Your Cat a Bath

When it comes time to take the plunge and give your cat a bath, there are some critical steps you should take to make the process as smooth as possible. Starting a bathing ritual when they are kittens can also help them become used to the process, even if they don’t like it.

First, brush your cat to get rid of any loose hair so it doesn’t clog up your drain. You’ll also want to trim your cat’s nails to protect yourself when the cat inevitably becomes agitated.

The water you use for the bath should be lukewarm, and it will help to put a rubber mat or towel at the bottom of the sink or tub so your cat has something firm to stand on. If your cat, like most, can’t stand to be in a pool of water, try pouring the water over them and using a wet washcloth instead.

Always be sure you’re using special cat shampoo. Human shampoos are dangerous if your cat licks them and can harm their skin.

Be sure to dry your cat thoroughly and give them all the love they’ll allow you when bath time is over.


a woman brushes her cat with a special brush to remove excess fur

How To Keep Your Cat Clean Without a Bath

If bath time is too stressful for you and your cat, regular grooming can help prevent the need for baths altogether in the right circumstances.

For longer-haired cats, brush them regularly to get rid of excess dirt and knots and make their own grooming more effective. If you let your cat roam outside, keep an eye on where they’re going and ensure they’re not tracking in much dirt or pests.

Keeping the litter box and your cat’s favorite spots around the house tidy will also help keep your cat clean and eliminate those cat smells owners usually become accustomed to.

If you’ve tried bathing your cat but you need to do something more for your cat’s overall cleanliness, call a professional groomer. They have all the tricks for getting your cat clean without the drama.


A Clean Cat Is a Healthy Cat

Ultimately, keeping your cat clean is part of your overall job of caring for its health. Plus, a clean cat makes for a much nicer smell around the house.

At Westmonte Animal Clinic, we care about your pets as if they were our own. That’s why we’re here to answer any questions about routine care, such as whether or not you need to brush your cat’s teeth. If you’ve noticed your cat has stopped grooming itself, is over-grooming, or you think it might have fleas, give us a call to discuss the best treatment options.

And for routine checkups, cat teeth cleanings, vaccinations, and more, we’re here to give your pet the best. We welcome new patients, and our experienced, dedicated staff is ready to help you be the best cat parent you can be.