Why Cats Need Baths March 21, 2016 14:26

“Cats don’t need baths; they groom themselves.” That’s one of the most common myths about cats out there. The fact is, even though cats groom themselves, they often still need baths.  Cat grooming is a delicate subject because cats are notoriously anxious around water. (Unless it’s the dog’s water bowl, which cats who live with dogs notoriously love to drink out of instead of their own!)

We like to think that if our pets don’t like something, it means we don’t have to make them do it. But when it come to cat grooming, baths are often a necessary part of the equation. How do you know if your cat needs a bath, and what do you need to know before diving in? Read on.

When do cats need baths?


time to wash cat bath

When they’re older or overweight

It’s true that cats groom themselves naturally. Yet, saliva isn’t soap, and it’s important to periodically groom cats. However, there are some instances where cats need more regular help grooming. Cats fur often gets a bit greasier as they become older. This is a natural process, but it does mean that older cats need baths. Cats who are overweight are also unable to reach every part of their body when grooming themselves, meaning that they need baths to ensure certain parts of their body are getting groomed at all.

When they have mats, dreadlocks, or other fur problems

If you notice matted fur that looks like little miniature dreadlocks on your cat’s coat, you may be tempted to just cut them out. But this is a temporary solution and does nothing to decrease the likelihood of the mats reforming. A healthy, clean coat is the best way to prevent against matted fur. Bathing a cat is also a good way to reduce shedding or excess hair, and can help prevent hairballs.

When they have things stuck to their rear or paws

We’ve all seen it: A cat walking around, waving his tail in the air, proud as can be, but upon closer inspection there is poo stuck to his rear end. It’s not a pretty sight, nor is it a sanitary one! If your cat has issues with “stuff” getting stuck to his rear end or paws, it’s time for a bath.

What Do I need to know before bathing my cat ?

1. Have a helper

Your cat may be afraid or skittish in the bath; it can be a good idea to have one person holding and comforting the cat, while the other person is focused on bathing. Ideally, make sure that your helper is someone whom your cat knows and trusts.

2. Put everything you need within reach

While some cats love baths, most do not. To ensure that the process is over as quickly and painlessly as possible, make sure that everything you need for the bath is within arm’s reach before beginning. This will make sure that the bath is both a quick and a simple process.

3. Shampoo matters

Using a natural, chemical-free pet shampoo like Dr. McGrath’s ensures your cat’s skin won’t become irritated during or after the bath. Remember that cats, in particular, love to lick their fur. Of course, rinse your cat’s body thoroughly (use warm, not hot water), but just in case any residue gets left behind, you don’t want your furry friend licking up chemicals.

4. Avoid submerging their heads

In most instances, bathing just your cat’s body will be enough to do the trick. Cats can become afraid if their heads are submerged in water, so it’s best to avoid it. If you need to wash your cat’s face, use a damp cloth instead.

One of the most common myths about cats is that they don’t need baths. And while cats do groom themselves, there are still plenty of instances in which they need our help to be clean. Plus, while saliva does a decent job of cleaning in the animal kingdom, domesticated animals can benefit from more advanced levels of cleanliness.

Remember to keep in mind that baths can be scary for cats, so rewarding with extra cuddles, playtime, or treats afterwards is never a bad idea!