Do Cats Need Baths?

Updated: October 25, 2023

Should you bathe cats? If you have a cat at home, you have probably wondered whether bathing your furbaby is necessary or if giving them one would be good for them. In this article, we will figure out together the answer to the question of most cat parents: Do cats need baths? How often should you bathe a cat? Learn more about cat baths and when they are needed in this article.

As a general rule of thumb, most cats do not need baths. According to The Central California SPCA (CCSPCA), most veterinarians agree that cats do not usually need baths.

Why Cats Don’t Usually Need Baths

Cats are well-known for their grooming habits. They are very good at bathing themselves which is why many pet parents have never needed to give their cat a bath.

Treats Skin Conditions

Generally, cats lick themselves to groom. Cat tongues have a rough texture, comparable to sandpaper. This texture, called papillae, is many keratin spines that act similar to a comb. This allows cats to naturally groom themselves.

Cats also use their paws to groom areas their tongue can’t reach. Cats use their paws by moistening them with their saliva to clean the rest of their body they are not able to groom with their tongues, such as their face and ears.

"Licking not only keeps them clean, it also helps to cool them off, distribute natural oils found in the skin, and promote proper blood flow."

As mentioned by Reader’s Digest, cats spend almost half of their day just grooming. Licking not only keeps them clean, it also helps to cool them off, distribute natural oils found in the skin, and promote proper blood flow. Their saliva also has special enzymes that serve as a natural antibiotic for when they have wounds.

Self-grooming is usually enough to keep their coat in fabulous condition with some help from you and a good brush.

There are, however, some instances when cat’s DO need baths! There are some situations where it may be necessary to give your cat a bath, like when your cat gets too dirty, a flea bath for cats, and other scenarios.

How Often Should You Bathe a Cat?

How often you bathe a cat will depend on the lifestyle. Though cats usually do not need baths, here are some notable exceptions to the no-bathing rule:

    Soiled and smelly. If your cat soiled themselves, has been skunked, or has gotten into something smelly, they may need a bath. If your cat is prone to soiling themselves due to medical issues or behavioral issues, have them wear Pet Parents® Washable Cat Diapers. These premium cat diapers will help you stay on top of your furbaby’s hygiene and reduce messes. It also prevents diaper rash and urine burns because WickQuick®, our proprietary fabric, quickly draws liquid into the pad.

    Messy habits. Cats can get quite messy when eating. They often stick their heads in their bowls or walk in their food. Kittens also tend to have accidents around the house, play in their litterboxes and walk through their waste while they are still learning use the litter box. This is why it is important to place Pawtect® Pads under litter boxes and food bowls to help prevent extra mess in your house. In addition, your cat can sure be adventurous most of the time. Some cats love roaming around the neighborhood, and it may not be long before they get themselves into sticky and muddy situations which will sometimes require giving a cat a bath.

    Parasites. If your cat acquires or gets infested with parasites, then a flea bath for cats might be necessary. The most common external parasites for cats include fleas, ticks, and mites. These parasites cause discomfort to your furbaby and may even be life-threatening if not treated immediately. So aside from giving them a flea bath for cats, tick prevention methods are also essential.

    Inability to groom themselves. If your cat has arthritis, is obese, is a senior, or suffers from something that costs them their flexibility to groom themselves properly. Cats need baths or alternative cleaning methods if they cannot clean themselves effectively. You might consider using cat wipes on the spots they cannot reach if your cat hates baths. Cat wipes will be able to clean your cat without the extra stress of a cat bath.

    Long-haired breed. If your cat belongs to a breed that particularly has long hair, like Persians, they definitely need a helping hand in cleaning themselves. If you have a long hair breed, you should definitely know how to bathe a cat and keep them calm as you are more likely to have to bathe your cat.

    Hairless breed. If your cat belongs to a hairless breed, like the Sphynx. You may be wondering why hairless cats still need to be bathed. Periodic baths are indeed needed for them in order to remove their body oils. How often to bathe a cat without hair will depend on the environment and skin condition.

Only in these cases will your cat really need to be bathed. Otherwise, their own daily cat grooming and of course, with your help, regular brushing of cat fur will be enough. You can also use cat-safe pet wipes, like Pet WiPees™ Cat All Purpose Wipes to remove certain debris and dirt without actually bathing your furbaby. In fact, in certain cases, you might find that cat wipes are more convenient and less stressful than bathing your cat.

How to Give a Cat a Bath

Believe it or not, not all cats hate baths. Some breeds like Bengal, Sphynx, Maine Coon, and American Shorthair handle baths well and are known for their fondness of water. For most of the other cat breeds, however, it is better to get equipped with some tips on how to bathe a cat that hates water to minimize the problems that may occur during their bath time.

How to Bathe a Cat That Hates Water

How to give a cat a bath when your cat hates water? It is recommended to schedule the bath beforehand especially when learning how to bathe a cat that hates water. You may choose to do it after your cat’s playtime as this can help tire your cat out.

Do Cats Need Baths?

It is also wise to familiarize your cat with the tub, or sink, where you will bathe them. You may do this by placing them in the tub or sink a couple of days before their scheduled bath. If you are wondering how to bathe a cat with claws, it is advised to trim their cat’s nails beforehand, to protect yourself from possible scratches while bathing.

Prepare everything you need in advance. You will need plenty of towels, a trusted cat-safe shampoo, a comb or brush, a jug or a handheld spray faucet, a rubber mat, and Pawtect® Pads for them to stand on after the bath. You can also try floating a ping-pong ball in the water to distract your cat during bath time as it may encourage them to fish it out.

Just like dogs, bathing is not the only cat grooming activity to consider when caring for a cat. Grooming your cat also involves other grooming activities, such as trimming their nails, maintaining good dental and oral hygiene, and cleaning their inner ears and paw pads. It is important to know how to bathe a cat, even though cats do not generally require baths.

How to Dry a Cat After a Bath

How to dry a cat after a bath can be another challenge. Most cats will not sit still for you to blow them try with a hair dryer, so you can opt for towel drying and air drying.

After the bath, allow your cat to relax. Many cats will not like baths and will become stressed. Give them some time, and a place, to decompress. You can allow them to curl up on a Pawtect® Blanket while they dry and settle down. These cat blankets are waterproof and cozy so that your cat can relax without getting your furniture wet after a bath.

How to Care for Your Cat’s Coat

Here are some suggestions for maintaining the health of your cat’s fur.

    Proper Diet: A poor diet will greatly affect your cat’s coat health. The diet and nutrition you provide your cat should be appropriate for their age, activity levels, and health. Provide them with a diet that includes digestible proteins and nutrients like omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which help maintain good skin & coat health.

    Prevent Obesity: Obesity affects your cat’s ability to properly groom themselves. To help prevent obesity in your cat, make sure to provide them with a healthy diet, control how much you feed them, regularly monitor their weight, and provide exercise opportunities.

    Ticks and Flea Prevention: Many cats are allergic to these parasites’ saliva. Tick and flea bites will cause your furbaby to itch, resulting in wounds, patches, dry skin, and a dull cat coat. Give your cat regular flea prevention if needed.

    Brush Them: Though cats groom themselves daily, brushing cat hair will help remove dirt and dead hair, and prevent mats. It also allows you to look for any redness, bumps, flakes, fleas, ticks, and other skin disorders.

    Reduce Stress: Stress can lead to a cat’s dull coat. Help your cat remain calm and relaxed by identifying the different stressors that trigger them and avoiding them as much as possible. Also, provide your cat with a safe place in your home where they can go when they feel anxious.

    Use Pet-Safe Products: Use only products that are made specifically for cats, like Pet WiPees™! When you use human products for your cat, this may irritate their skin and cause dullness to cat hair.

Pet Wipes for Cats

In many cases, a bath can be a stressful occasion for a cat. You may consider using pet wipes for cats rather than a full bath if your cat only needs help cleaning. Pet wipes for cats can also be used between baths for cats that cannot groom themselves or need a bath for the reasons listed above. When choosing cat wipes, do your research to ensure all the scents, and ingredients, are gentle and safe for their skin and fur.

Pet WiPees™ Cat All Purpose Wipes provide more than just a quick clean! These hypoallergenic cat wipes use omega oils to keep skin healthy and moisturized.  They also help to reduce cat dander, which leads to human allergies, and wipe away environmental irritants. With enzyme and probiotic blends, these cat wipes promote healthier skin and coat, so they are safe for use every single day!

Bio-based ingredients are ideal for your cat. Pet WiPees™ are free from sulfates, alcohols, harsh chemicals, and parabens. Betaine is a common cleanser that is harmful to the skin and coat, so Pet WiPees™ are Betaine-free. When made with the best ingredients, cat wipes are a wonderful alternative to cat baths.

Cat Wipes

"Pet WiPees™ Cat All Purpose Wipes provide more than just a quick clean! These hypoallergenic cat wipes work to keep skin healthy and moisturized with omega oils."

Make sure you do these things regularly to keep your furbaby happy and well-groomed. You can do them one at a time to avoid additional stress both for you and your cat. In any case you are anxious and scared of having to do these all, you may always ask for professional help from trusted cat grooming services in your local community.