Cats are extremely picky, finicky creatures. Among many of their odd behaviors, one well-known quirk about cats is that they aren’t exactly fans of water. Not only are they notoriously dehydrated, but they also typically hate getting wet.
While dogs tend to need baths about once per month, cats are quite different. Felines are relatively self-sufficient when it comes to grooming; if you have a cat, you’ve likely noticed that she spends a decent amount of time licking and grooming herself each day.
If you’re wondering whether you need to be doing more as a pet owner to keep your kitty clean, read on!
Understanding Your Cat’s Grooming Habits
Cats instinctively like to hide and roam around undetected—they often don’t like attention unless it’s on their own terms. By cleaning themselves regularly, cats are actually minimizing their own scents in order to make it easier to sneak up on any potential prey.
Plus, you’ve seen how they cover their messes in the litter box… they’re just clean animals overall!
Cats learn to groom themselves as kittens and continue this habit throughout their lives. With those sandpaper-like tongues, cats are actually doing a lot for themselves as they lick and paw all over their bodies:
- Removing loose fur, dirt, debris, or pests with those tiny hooks on the tongue
- Stimulating sebum (oil) production, and spreading it around for healthy skin and a shiny coat
- Keeping fur from matting
- Spreading saliva in order to cool off
- Comforting herself (like kneading, grooming can be self-soothing)
Most cats are pretty independent with it comes to grooming (and, well, anything else). That said, if you have multiple cats, you may see them helping each other with those hard-to-reach spots. Additionally, if your cat is overweight or has mobility issues, she may have some trouble reaching certain spots.
You can help by brushing your kitty a few times each week, especially if she’s having trouble accessing certain areas. Brushing helps to remove debris, keep shedding under control, keep fur from matting, and boost blood circulation. Plus, it can feel like a soothing spa session for your cat!
Do Cats Need Baths?
With the combination of self-grooming and brushing, your cat is able to stay pretty clean without further interference.
That said, there are a few situations when your cat may need a bath:
If she got into something exceptionally dirty, sticky, or smelly that she shouldn’t or can’t lick away on her own.
If she’s dealing with pests such as fleas, mites, and ticks.
- If she has allergy-related skin problems and could use a soothing shampoo.
Additionally, cats with particularly long hair may need baths every so often if they’re having trouble keeping up with self-cleaning. Hairless cats also need periodic baths to remove those body oil that would otherwise be absorbed by fur.
If your cat gets into something dirty or stinky, try spot cleaning as much as possible instead of total submersion in water. That, along with brushing, may allow your kitty to avoid a bath altogether.
How to Give Your Cat a Bath
Cat baths should generally be the last resort… unless, for some reason, your cat is actually a huge fan of splashing around in the water.
If your cat is dirty and you’ve exhausted all of your other options, or if your vet recommends a bath with a soothing shampoo for skin issues and a bath is inevitable, be sure to follow these important tips:
If possible, get a friend or family member to help out.
Prepare to be splashed!
Always brush before bathing.
Trim your cat’s claws beforehand, too–for your own safety.
Put down a non-slip mat in the tub.
Check that the water is tepid and comfortable.
Use a hand-held hose or a cup/pitcher to control the direction of the water.
Use a damp washcloth for the face rather than pouring water directly onto your cat’s head.
Using a cat-friendly shampoo, gently massage from head to tail in the direction of hair growth.
Be sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid skin irritation.
Dry her off with a warm, dry towel. (We recommend putting a towel in the dryer beforehand for extra post-bath coziness.)
- Give your kitty plenty of treats and praise for a job well done!
Keep your cat feeling healthy and clean with Pet Honesty’s Clean Cat 3-Pack. This winning combination includes the best-selling:
- Digestive Probiotics+ Powder for Cats
- OTIC Ear Cleaner
- Chlorhexidine Shampoo