This article is contributed by guest writer, Natasha R. (@tasharamirez13).
Why and How to Give Your Cat a Bath
Most cats are very good at cleaning themselves regularly. Even if your cat hates water (as most do) there still might be some times when you need to help them out and give their fur some extra TLC. Whether your cat has gotten dirty from playing outside or just needs a deep clean, here are some tips on how to bathe your cat in a way that is as stress-free as possible for both you and your cat.
Should I give my cat a bath?
Even though cats prefer to keep themselves clean using their tongue, they might still need some extra help on occasion. There are several factors you should consider when deciding on if your cat needs to be bathed, and if so, how often.
- Your cat may have bugs or ticks stuck in their fur. If you cat likes to venture outside, they can easily get small bugs like fleas, ticks, and lice embedded into their fur and onto their skin. If left unnoticed, they can cause irritations and infections that can even be deadly. Bathing your cat regularly is a good time to wash out those bugs in their fur and check their skin for any bugs that are stuck on their skin. Medicated feline shampoo can help kill any bugs stuck on their skin. If you live in an area where tick-borne illnesses are common and you find one latched onto your cat’s skin, visit your local vet to make sure they’re still healthy.
- Your cat is a short-hair or hairless breed. The breed of your cat changes how often you will need to bathe them. Long-haired cats can keep their fur clean easier than short-haired cats. Hairless cats and short-haired cats struggle to keep their skin oils in-check, since longer fur helps to distribute the oils. Bathing your cat regularly can help keep your short-haired cat’s skin healthy and fur clean.
- Your cat has mobility issues. Just like humans, your cat will struggle to take care of themselves as they age. If they are elderly, obese, or have arthritis, it will be harder for your cat to bathe themselves effectively. Without your help bathing them, your cat will start to develop matted fur and flaky skin.
- Your cat gets dirty frequently and doesn’t keep itself clean. Just like humans, a cat’s preferred level of hygiene varies. If you find that your cat doesn’t keep itself sufficiently clean, you might want to help out a lot. Sometimes high levels of dirt and dust can be hard for a cat to routinely take care of.
Prepare your bath supplies beforehand
Baths can be stressful for your cat, especially if they haven’t grown up getting regular baths. Making this as quick of an experience as possible will help keep their anxiety in check. Getting all of your bath supplies ready before they are in the water and within easy reach will make the experience more enjoyable for the both of you. Make sure you have the following supplies ready:
- Bathtub. If you have a small cat or baby kitten, you can also use a large bucket or sink. You don’t need to fill the bathtub up all the way—that can stress out your cat even more.
- Drain plug. You probably already have one at hand to keep your own hair from clogging up your drain. But a drain plug will also help keep your long-haired cat from clogging up your plumbing.
- Pet shampoo and conditioner. Your cat needs shampoo and conditioner specifically made for pets. Since they have a different pH level than humans, normal shampoo can irritate their skin.
- Towel. If your cat isn’t used to baths, make sure to use a towel instead of a hair dryer to dry them off after the bath, since the loud noise can stress them out. A microfiber towel will help dry them off faster.
- Cat-specific hair brush. A regular hairbrush may not be able to distribute your cat’s oils into their coat as well as other cat-specific brushes available. Use a comb to get all of the tangles out of their fur after the bath, and then a brush to help make their fur shiny.
- Cotton balls. Don’t forget to clean out your cat’s ears during their bath. A buildup of wax and debris can make it harder for your cat to hear. Make sure to use cotton balls instead of Q-tips so you don’t go too far inside their ear canal and cause damage.
- Treats. Some cats may fight more than others to get out of their bath. Using treats like catnip can help them stay calm during the process.
- A friend. If your cat is biting and scratching you, it may be helpful to have a partner with you to hold down your cat so you can bathe them without suffering any massive injuries.
Once you have all of your gear ready and the water at a nice warm temperature, it’s time to bathe your cat. Gently start lathering your cat shampoo into their fur in small, soft circles, starting from their head and moving to their tail. Make sure to avoid their face, ears, and eyes as much as possible. After washing out the shampoo, check their skin for any bugs that may still be attached to their skin. After you’ve washed your cat with shampoo and conditioner, rinse their fur with clean warm water to ensure you’ve washed out any residue.
Some cats struggle taking baths more than others. If your cat is
showing a lot of anxiety over the process, it might be helpful to take them to
a professional groomer. They can make the bathing experience quick and less
stressful for your cat. Whether you bathe your cat at home or take them to a
groomer, make sure to shower them with love, affection, and lots of treats