Skip to Main Content

How Often to Bathe a Cat & How to Do it

How Often to Bathe a Cat & How to Do it

Most cats hate water. They are continually cleaning themselves. That said, sometimes they'll need an actual bath. Our vets in Jesup discuss bathing your cat in this post. 

Do Cats Need To Be Bathed?

Cats are great at cleaning themselves, so, fortunately, our cats won't need to be bathed too often. A cat's tongue is covered with tiny, curved barbs that spread saliva across the animal's fur. Their tongue can act as a mini a mini-spa treatment for your cat - with each lap, your cat will spread healthy natural oils across their coat and skin. Their little spines also work as natural detanglers, which is why you'll often see your feline companion licking and biting at clumps of fur - it's their method of smoothing their fur out.

However, routine bathing at home or with our experienced groomers at our pet groomers can help reduce the amount of hair loss and prevent hairballs from developing. 

How Often Should You Bathe A Cat?

Your kitten or cat will need a bath if they've gotten themselves dirty or into something they are not supposed to. For example, if they've ingested something they shouldn't have such as gasoline, antifreeze, paint, motor oil, or anything that can get on their fur and be harmful. These substances will need to be washed off immediately. 

For some cats, baths can soothe skin conditions that may include seborrhea, a disorder that results in flakey, itchy, red skin. Your veterinarian may also recommend medicated baths for treating other health conditions including severe flea allergies or ringworm. 

Obese or senior cats often aren't able to groom themselves effectively and might benefit from regularly scheduled baths. Long-haired cats should be bathed about every couple of months to reduce the risk of their fur becoming matted. Hairless breeds such as the Sphynx will likely require weekly baths since their oily residue can be left behind on fabrics in your home. 

How Do You Bathe A Cat?

When getting ready to bathe your cat, think of how you would prepare to bathe a baby; you'll have everything you need within arm's reach before you start and the water temperature will be correct. You should use the same rule of thumb when bathing a cat.

Here are some items you'll want to have close by: 

  • Cat shampoo and conditioner
  • A bath or shower with a handheld shower-head
  • Numerous towels to clean her off and help keep her dry
  • Never use shampoo or conditioner intended for humans as it has a different pH level than the type that's suited for cats and could damage your pet's skin or hair. 

Before you start you should brush your cat to remove any knots or tangles, particularly if she is a long-furred breed. Set the water temperature to warm and have it running through the shower head at a medium level spray

The Bath

While talking to your cat and offering lots of reassurance and praise, gently place her into the shower tray or bath. Using a shower head from above is significantly less stressful for your pet as she is far more likely to be used to being rained on than she is being lowered into 4 inches of tepid water!

Hold your cat in place by her scruff, or use a harness if you think she is going to be tricky to control. Begin washing her gently using soft confident strokes. Cats are very intuitive at picking up stress, so if you seem stressed she will be on edge too, and far more likely to lash out or try to make a run for it! Apply small amounts of shampoo – she’s probably not as dirty as you think she is! Make sure you rinse clean and then repeat with the conditioner. Take care to avoid her eyes and nose.

Drying Off

Once she is clean you should towel-dry your cat as much as possible. Some cats are petrified of hair dryers. If your feline friend isn’t then you could consider trying to dry her using low heat and speed. You may need to confine her to a carrier to do this. Alternatively, you could leave your cat in the warm bathroom until her coat is dry. The important thing is to ensure that she is thoroughly dried before going into other parts of the house. Damp cats can easily become chilled which can make them unwell, or in the case of kittens, particularly low body temperatures can be life-threatening.

How to Bathe a Cat Without Getting Scratched

Many an owner has puzzled over the question of how to bathe a cat that hates water, as most cats do. Some cats will tolerate baths, but others simply won't. When a bath is inevitable, staying calm will help you both. Here are a few tips to help ease some stress so your cat is less likely to try to scratch and claw its way to freedom:

  • Choose a time after she’s eaten or played, as she’ll be more mellow
  • Minimize running water, the sound causes many cats to panic, and the last thing you want is to grab a slippery, sharp cat
  • If possible, trim her nails before the bath, filing the ends as well after they're clipped to dull them
  • Plan for a short grooming session to make handling her fur much easier
  • Use a washcloth around the face and ears
  • Recruit a friend to help so one of you can hold the cat while the other bathes them
  • Fill a sink with a few inches of warm water and wash only the parts you need to, then rinse thoroughly

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

It will sometimes be necessary to bathe your cat. For advice on how to make the process easier, or to have our professional groomers care for your cat's bathing needs, contact us today.

New Patients Welcome

Wolfe Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Jesup companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(912) 427-3212 Contact