Some cats despise water, but it’s a myth to think that call cats do – or that cats shouldn’t bathe. Generally, cats don’t need baths. However, there are occasions when a bath is necessary. While baths might seem like a normal activity of pet ownership, after all, it is common with dogs, cats only need baths for certain reasons.
How do Cats Groom Themselves?
Cats love to groom themselves. They do a great job, too. If you have more than one cat, you might find your cats grooming each other. This is known as mutual grooming or all grooming. Cats are flexible and have a rough tongue that allows them to groom themselves all over. Cats don’t just groom themselves to keep clean, either. Grooming regulates body temperature, stimulates circulation, and is self-soothing. Compulsive grooming and under-grooming can occur in cats. Over-grooming may lead to injury but might indicate a flea infestation, neurological disorder, or some other medical issue. Under-grooming is a result of pain, dental problems, and other illnesses.
As you can see, your cat’s grooming needs are instinctual and any deviation from the middle road is cause for concern. So, if you see big changes to your cat’s grooming habits, be sure to see a veterinarian.
Do I Need to Bathe My Cat?
There are situations where you do indeed need to groom your cat. Here are some common issues that require you to give your cat a bath:
Your Cat Smells
Seems like a common-sense statement, but you need to bathe your cat if they get into something funky. For example, if they were sprayed by a skunk or rolled in a dead animal, they’ll need a bath.
To Wash Away Dirt or Sticky Substances
Some things your cat will have difficulty grooming for themselves. If your cat encounters mud, oil, sap, or other substances, they’ll need a bath. You want your cat spreading the liquid around your home nor will you want them licking it away.
To Get Rid of Fleas or Other Pests
The only good way to get rid of bugs is to wash them away. Fleas, ticks, lice, and mites will cause irritated skin and infections if they are not treated as soon as they are found. Your vet will likely prescribe a special shampoo to do the job, and that means bath time for the kitty.
Coat Length Matters
Cats with long hair, like Persians, may require your help in keeping their coats clean. And cats with little or no fur, like a Sphynx, will only need periodic baths to remove body oils. When you groom your cat, you’ll want to make sure you have all the supplies ready for a successful experience. Here are some items you’ll want to have on hand to bathe and groom your cat:
- Gloves: If your cat managed to get into something nasty, you’ll want to have a good pair of gloves on hand. While you’re at it, you may want to wear a long-sleeved shirt.
- Cotton balls: Cotton balls are useful to clean your cat’s ears and remove buildup that may have accumulated. It’s also great for using after your cat’s bath to soak up any extra water that might have entered the ear canal.
- Cat shampoo: Cat shampoo is easily available from your vet’s office or the pet shop. You’ll want to use something that doesn’t have too much scent since fragrances can irritate your cat.
- Non-skid surface: Cats need a steady surface to stand on so they don’t slip and feel unbalanced. If you plan to bathe your cat in your bathtub, you can often find a rubberized bath mat that goes right into your tub and can be removed when you’re not bathing your cat.
- Towels: You’ll want lots of towels to dry your cat off and clean up any water you may have splashed during the process.
- Treats: If your cat is having a hard time acclimating themselves to bath time, it might be a good idea to keep their favorite treats around. This will calm them and reinforce the idea that bath time can be a pleasant experience.
Special Care for Elderly & Injured Cats
There are medical reasons your cat may require a bath. Cats who are injured, obese, arthritic, or elderly may need help cleaning. Their bodies just won’t allow them to clean their bodies as they’d like. For these cats, the backs of their coats need the most attention as they are more likely to become itchy, flaky, and matted.