Keeping your cat’s skin and coat healthy is important to their overall health and well-being. Since cats spend much of their time grooming themselves, and they can become irritated or aggressive when we try to bathe them, many owners get into the habit of not bathing their kittens. But is it really a good idea not to bathe cats? How often is it recommended to bathe a kitten?
Keep reading on to find out what the experts think about how often to bathe a cat…!
Can cats bathe? Is it good to bathe a cat?
In general, there is some debate about it.
On the one hand, there are those who say that bathing a cat not only makes no sense but can be counterproductive. Some experts say that bathing them regularly can put them at risk of developing skin conditions, such as rashes, allergies, and dryness.
In addition, cats can spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming and covering themselves with their scent, hence human intervention only serves to erase this natural identity mechanism.
On the other hand, there are those who do recommend bathing domestic cats. They affirm that although our kittens know how to take good care of their personal hygiene, they still need additional help.
The rough tongue of cats helps them to remove dead hair and food debris, massage the roots, and spread the natural oils more evenly over the body; however, this self-cleaning routine is not entirely efficient at removing flakes and dirt.
So is it necessary to bathe cats? Strictly speaking, it is not necessary. Still, many experts recommend bathing as a way to complement a feline cleaning routine. When done with the right products and frequency, bathing your cat can have several benefits.
- Cleaner, shinier, nourished, and hydrated coat
- Lower volume of dandruff and dead hair
- Less shedding (less loose hairs)
- Prevention of fleas and other skin parasites
- Strengthening the bond between the cat and its owner
It should be noted that there are cases in which regular bathing by the owner is considered absolutely necessary. This includes cats without hair, ancient cats, and cats that are obese, or that for whatever reason cannot access certain areas of the body with their tongue. These are more prone to tangling, itching, peeling, and infection.
The bathroom is a good opportunity to teach your cat that being handled, even in unexpected ways, will not hurt her.
How often to bathe a cat?
The frequency of bathing in cats usually depends on factors such as age, coat type, and activity level, among others.
As a general recommendation, young and adolescent kitties can bathe regularly, every 7 days, due to the increased level of activity and dirt. The cats older than one year can be bathed once a month or every 2 months, with 3 months maximum time between baths.
Specialized sources, such as National Cat Groomers of America, recommend that cats bathe and blow dry every 4-6 weeks to avoid tangles and excess dirt.
Note. Regardless of these recommendations, it is known that some cats can be perfectly fine with just 1 or 2 baths a year.
Aspects to consider when deciding how often to bathe your pet cat:
- Indoor or outdoor cat. Indoor house cats don’t get as dirty, or as fast, as outdoor cats.
- Length and type of coat. Long-haired breeds should be bathed and brushed more often than short-haired breeds to combat the accumulation of dead hair and tangles.
- Activity level. Your cat will probably require more frequent baths if he is a very active kitten.
- Health. Problems like skin irritation, flea and tick infestation, or any condition that causes loose stools, can lead to a routine of frequent bathing.
- Ability to groom themselves. Cats that can no longer groom themselves efficiently (very old, obese, sick) need regular baths by their owner to prevent their fur from becoming greasy or sticky.
What happens if a cat bathes a lot?
The too-frequent bathing can have negative effects on the fur and skin of the cat. In the case of bathing every so often, the kitten can develop extreme dryness and flaking. Avoid doing this unless recommended by your vet.
How do I know if my cat needs a bath?
When a cat’s fur smells bad or looks greasy and discolored despite regular brushing, it is most likely time for a bath. Likewise, it is advisable to give it a bath if it presents tangles and knots of dead hair. Many owners simply cut the mats in the habit of cutting, but keeping the coat clean is the best way to prevent this from happening.
Also read: Cat heat stroke symptoms
How to bathe domestic cats?
The first thing to consider before bathing a cat at home is to gather everything you need and place it by hand. To do this, you will need:
- A large bucket, sink, or tub (preferably with a non-slip mat).
- Specialized shampoo and conditioner for cats. Opt for a mild product, without perfumes or harsh chemical ingredients. Never use human-use shampoo to bathe a cat; These are usually too harsh, and even toxic, for your kitty’s fur. Baby shampoos are also included here.
- 1-2 towels.
- Ball or floating toy as a distraction.
When choosing a cat bathing shampoo, be sure to check the ingredient list. Go for a simple product, with ingredients like citrus extracts, aloe vera, and oats. Avoid shampoos that contain artificial dyes, parabens, and too many chemicals.
Basic steps for bathing cats
- Fill the cat tub with plenty of warm ( not hot ) water and gently soak it in. Avoid overfilling it, as this will only make your pet more anxious.
- Dilute one part of shampoo in 5 parts of water, apply small amounts of this solution and begin to massage to spread the lather over the body, including the tail, belly, and legs.
- Always avoid washing your head. It may not be necessary to bathe him thoroughly; in that case, you can concentrate the foam only in the desired areas. Some owners recommend removing the cat from the water and placing it on a towel to do this, especially if you are using a medicated shampoo that takes minutes to activate.
- When you’re ready to rinse it off, use one hand to pour the water out and leave the other hand free to protect its eyes and ears. Repeat the same procedure for applying conditioner after shampooing. It is very important to rinse these products well so as not to leave residues on the cat’s fur.
- Once it’s completely rinsed off, let it shake off the excess water. Cats generally prefer to be towel-dried rather than blow-dried. If your pet is not used to the hairdryer, try to dry it as well as possible with a towel and leave it in a warm room to finish drying naturally.
Most cats do not like to be bathed, which is why some may find the experience very stressful. Does your kitty not tolerate water? Consider washing an isolated area, rather than getting her entire body wet.
7 Helpful tips for owners to bathe a cat
If this is the first time you are going to bathe your cat, do not forget the following tips:
- Bathing can be a tricky time, so it’s a good idea to offer praise and reassurance. It is also recommended to have some goodies on hand, and if possible, another person to help calm him down and support his head.
- Plan the bath after a play session, so the kitten is more tired and calm.
- Make sure to clip his nails the day before and brush all of his furs just before getting him wet. Removing loose hairs and mats shortens bath time. This is good practice for short-haired cats and a must for long-haired cats. Use a soft brush or a fine-toothed comb.
- Prevent water from getting into your ears, eyes, and nose. These areas can be cleaned with a damp cloth (no soap or shampoo), always passing around, not directly on or in them.
- Contrary to what some people suggest, it is not advisable to put cotton inside the cat’s ears to keep them dry. Cotton could not only get stuck but become another stressor. Your cat will be more anxious if he can’t hear clearly.
- Close the bathroom door to avoid possible leaks and remember to close the toilet seat.
- An adult cat is likely to resist bathing if it has never had the experience before. Bathe your little kitten occasionally from the early stages of his life.