One common issue that pet owners may have is they will ask their vet “Do I need to give my cat baths.” The answer to that is it varies. You may be hesitant about that because there’s that common misconception that cats can’t stand water. Well, let’s debunk a couple of these myths, and we’ll tell you right now whether or not your cat needs a bath.
The biggest reason why you may not give your cat a bath is that you think that it may hate water. While some might be ready to jump at a moment’s notice at the sight of water, there are actually some that do like it. The truth is, it’s actually up to you whether or not you want to do it.
You’ve probably seen in the wild species that enjoy the water. Have you gone to the zoo and saw a tiger taking a bath in the water, or a lion soaking on a hot day? That’s because obviously, they live in hot environments, and it keeps them cool, similar to how pigs roll around in the mud to keep cool. Some tigers actually do swim in the water and catch fish.
So why do cats dislike it? That’s due to evolution, and that’s something you need to remember. While your furry friend may dislike it, sometimes you may need to give your cat a bath.
What about Short-Haired Cats?
We talked a lot about long-haired and even hairless kitties such as Persians and Sphinxes, but what about the typical domestic shorthair? Is it worth it to bathe them?
Typically, these are the types of cat coats that are less likely to mat. On average, these breeds typically don’t have to be bathed, and they typically don’t have to be brushed too much either.
These ones tend to not struggle with tangles, but here’s the thing: every cat can benefit from bathing on occasion. This gets rid of the dirt, excess oils, and also the saliva and the dander. All cats have these, and really, any cat can benefit from this if they have a coat, because they’ll smell better, have a shinier coat, and they’ll feel really nice. It also prevents excess shedding. All cats shed to some degree, it’s mostly just how much do they shed.
Short-hair cats aren’t actually as low-maintenance though. That’s because they do have denser coats, and if you want to prevent cat hair and shedding in your home, this is a way to do so. It not only prevents excess shedding though, but it also prevents the following:
- Matting of the coat
Many cats actually do have some matting, and short-haired cats do cough up hairballs. It’s much rarer compared to the long-haired equivalent who does it pretty much every single day, but it can actually be a bit of an annoyance for some owners. However, a bath every now and then can prevent this, and it can make your life much easier if you need to use this.
So Should I?
The biggest thing to remember is that cats do the grooming themselves. So, most of the time, most cats don’t need to take baths. If you’ve ever seen a cat either lick or use their tongue on themselves., they are usually giving themselves. a bath.
There are times when you’d need to give your cat a bath though, and that’s the following:
- They soiled themselves or got dirty in the litterbox
- They have climbed up a chimney or got into the fireplace
- They got outside and got dirty
- They are a new cat that has recently entered the home, and it’s done to prevent fungi and other elements from getting on the other cat
- The cat has fleas and needs a bath
Usually, these are the common reasons why. Ultimately, most of the time when you give a cat a bath it isn’t a real “bath” but usually brushing them through and putting various medications on them.
Diseases that Can Call for Baths
There are a few situations where that can call for a bath in a cat. Some of them include the following:
- Ringworm: This is a fungus that, depending on how severe it is, may involve medicated baths
- Fleas: As stated before, cats sometimes get baths if they have fleas. But, while they’re not typically used, there are some flea treatments that kill them very quickly. These can be beneficial and necessary in some cases
- Getting stuff off their coat: Some cats may get stuff on themselves., such as oil, gasoline, antifreeze, potpourri, and even pyrethrin which can be toxic, even deadly for cats. It can cause tremors if it’s not taken off their coat, so it’s good to be done
- Cats that can’t groom themselves.: these are usually the ones that typically are not able to groom properly, so they need this in order to be healthy. Arthritic cats may even like the bath, since the water, massage, and the lathering is a great way to feel good
Plus, some cats just like it, because it helps to get rid of fleas, fur that’s in excess, or even help with bonding with your cat. You can give them baths if they suffer from this.
If the Hair is too Long
Some cats have very long hair. While it is beautiful, it can sometimes be quite frustrating for them to take care of it themselves. Long-haired cats should get baths frequently, and while they may have killer grooming skills, and feel like they can take care of it themselves., you as a pet owner should see, and make sure that they get it taken care of.
But, did you know that it’s not just the long-haired Persians that need baths? No, it’s actually even the cats that have no hair. Sphinx cats actually need baths for a completely different reason, and that’s the following:
- Their bodies can’t handle the oils that it produces
- Those oils get on there and can cause skin rashes
This is a big part, so it isn’t always just that the cat is obese, is old, or has issues with moving in order to keep it clean. Some also do give cats baths if they have a cat with long hair if there is a family member or even yourself with the allergy, and it can prevent the dander from getting there and aggravating you. It is something that can be quite helpful for the cat, even if they dislike it.
What to Do If you have to Give Your Cat a Bath
Now, we may not need to give our cats a bath a lot, but you can do so if things are happening, and you feel that you need to, or if your vet tells you that you need to. The first thing to do is you need a few supplies, and they are as follows:
- Some toys or treats to bribe your cat
- Rubber gloves (for your hands, not necessarily the cat)
- Cat shampoo, either bought from the grocery store or medicated shampoo that the vet prescribes
- A pitcher to rinse off the cat, or a spray nozzle that’s gentle
- A huge towel to wrap them in
- A small cloth to wipe down their face
- Cotton balls for their ears
When choosing a shampoo, you should choose something that is specifically made for cats. That’s because human shampoos are typically made with chemicals that aren’t good for cats. In the same vein, there are some natural shampoos that have chemicals that are toxic to cats, so you need something for them. Virbac is a great brand that even vets recommend. If the vet has a specific shampoo, you should use that. You can get medicated, hypoallergenic, and even antibacterial types of shampoo. Even if you don’t have any, you can get some baby shampoo for this. Just make sure you don’t give anything that will irritate the cat in some way shape or form.
Now, when you do this, you should also have space for the cat to do this. Sometimes doing this in the bathroom or kitchen sink works, but if the cat is kind of big, then you should use a bathtub. Again, it’s up to you.
How to Bathe Them
Bathing your cat is a bit of a process, and it can be quite frustrating to do. But, we’ll tell you how to do it here:
- The first thing to do is you’ll want to have some treats on hand, and also maybe even a helper for this
- Next, you should get your supplies and bring them there for yourself
- You may want to make sure as well that you’ve got a laundry basket or one of those Rubbermaid tubs in there, and also make sure to give them a bath mat, a towel, or even a yoga mat that the cat can go on so that they don’t freak out when they’re there
- When filling the bathtub up, you should fill up a couple of inches of warm water that isn’t too hot. You shouldn’t make it go too high
- From there, you should gently put the cat and hold them there while the helper puts the pitcher with some warm water over the coat. Do it lightly. Don’t give them too much
- From here, you want to lather up the cat with the shampoo that you got, and you should make sure that you wash and rinse the cat as much as you can. Make sure that you get all of the crevices
- From here, you should rinse off and get all of it off. You can use the showerhead if it’s actually removable, or you can use a pitcher in order to make sure that you get it all off of them
- Once you’re finished, you’ll then have to dry the cat using some towels. You should make sure to gently do this, and never use a blow dryer unless you want to become good friends with a scratch on the face
Now this sounds pretty easy, right? Well, it’s not that easy. Truth is, some cats are easier to deal with than others. It won’t be super easy, and it can be frustrating for a person taking care of them, but here are a few tips to help you take care of the cat when you’re trying to bathe them.
- Be gentle with them
- Don’t use sudden movements, it freaks them out
- Get a second person on the job, it makes it way easier
- Lay down the towels before you begin, and make sure space is cleaned up
- Make sure that you gently shampoo them so that the minimum amount of fuss, noises, and spraying isn’t happening
- Don’t be too loud with them, just get the job done
- When they’re done, give them a treat for their hard work because let’s face it, it’s probably not easy for the animal to deal with this
- Start them off very young, such as a kitten because the sooner they get into the water and like it, the easier it will be
- Acclimation is key too, and you can put them in the space with toys, treats, or even catnip to get used to it. You can give the cat a chance to play in the water as well
- Don’t restrain your cat, and instead hold them gently when you do this. You should also make sure that you’re quick to the draw on this, and don’t take more time than necessary
- When finished, give them some space, since they may be upset with you for doing that
Remember though, not every cat is like that. Sometimes, they are actually pretty chill with it. However, it’s for the best that you do it for them since cats do need to be taken care of and the last thing you want is for your cat to become mangy and dirty because of the fact that they can’t take care of themselves.
What NOT to Do
We talked a lot about what to do, but what about what not to do? The answer to that is simple, and it’s the following:
- Don’t tell them they’re getting a bath: this should be obvious, because they’ll know, and they’ll fight you on it for the most part. Unless they love it, then you can tell them.
- Don’t fill it up with water: you want them to reach up and bite you, and take out a chunk of your skin? Probably not, but instead, just fill it up with very little water.
- Shower with the cat: okay, first of all, this would be weird, but here’s the thing, if you have your cat in your arms, head right near its mouth, and then hits them with flowing water, and especially if your cat is a squirmer, this spells trouble for you. This is how a fight with a cat breaks out, and you don’t want that.
- Go alone: just because a cat is a fraction of the size it was once before, doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to deal with. Having that backup there will prevent blood loss in its entirety and may make the bath easier for everyone.
- Be fancy: don’t be one of those pet owners that put the cat in a baby bonnet and socks. That’s going to make them hate you, and unless they’re partial to that, it’s best if you don’t do that.
All of these tips should be kept in mind. Some pet owners get a little bit eccentric when giving cats baths, and if you need to, just make it a simple process, since it allows for everyone to benefit from it. You as a pet owner need to realize that you don’t want to scare the little guy, so make your life, and their lives easier by making baths not some dramatic endeavor, but instead something that you’ve got to do.
What About Brushing?
Brushing is actually another part of bathing and grooming. Some people brush their cats beforehand, and it can help with different aspects, including the following
- The bond between you and the cat
- Help get rid of mats and tangles
- Can comb out fleas and other aspects
So while bathing is something that you should do when the cat needs it, brushing is kind of a more preventative measure. There are some great brushes out there for cats, and you should make sure that you choose one that works for them. You should look for different brushes based on if they have long fur or short fur since different brushes do the job differently.
There are actually two sides to every single brush, and they include the following:
- A brush side for actually getting the tangles out of there
- A finer side to help with reducing shedding
Most of the brushes are made in a soft manner, and cats actually enjoy this. For them, it’s almost like a massage, and it’s an amazing way to bond with them. Plus, you can clean these, so if there is a flea infestation, you can use these to clean it, and then sterilize. You can also use them with the shampoo as well, and from there, it will also be sterilized so that it can be used again and again.
You should try to brush your cat as often as you possibly can for them. You can do this while you’re just sitting around, and make sure that it’s not too harsh on their skin. You should try to do it a couple of minutes a day a few days a week, and for baths maybe once a month, or more or less depending on the cat’s lifestyle and the breed that they are.
What if I can’t bathe my Cat?
This does happen. Let’s say that you’re trying your very hardest to bathe your cat, but they end up lashing out at you, and you don’t want their claws and bite marks digging all the way into your skin for the tenth time? Maybe even with a second assistant, you’re still having a troublesome time with grooming your cat. Well, the best option at this point is to see a groomer.
A groomer can take care of the little guy, and it also gives the cat someone else to be held accountable for the experience. But, it also provides the following benefits:
- Sometimes a deeper, more in-depth clean
- They have trained professional groomers, so they handle every one
- They can also trim the hair, clean the ears, and clip their nails, which can be hard for some pet owners
- They are all over the place, and you can even give the cat a full grooming
- It gives you the feeling of less guilt because you’re not the one who is doing the deed
Yes, it’s an option, but it’s also important to remember that this does cost more money. Sure, you can get the shampoo for a few bucks and the other essentials might already be there, but with a groomer, for a cat’s coat, it ranges anywhere from 20-50 bucks for a cat to be bathed, depending on how much you’re providing for them. But, if you have a cat with a really messed up coat, and they’re a nightmare to take care of, then this can be an option.
Taking care of a cat can be a bit of a nightmare, especially when bathing them. But, this post discussed how you can make the experience better for them, and how to make it worthwhile for everyone.