Keeping your cat’s skin and coat healthy is important to your cat’s overall well-being. But, since cats can become aggressive or irritated when you try to bathe them, it is easy to get in the habit of skipping it altogether. However, getting your cat into a regular grooming routine can help ease the stress and tension for you both! Plus, if you start them at a very young age, they can almost (dare we say it!)… enjoy getting a bath. The good news is your cat takes care of a majority of their hair care needs by themselves with all that licking, but that doesn’t remove mats, eliminate dandruff or make them smell better.
How often you need to bathe your cat depends on the following:
- Indoor vs. outdoor environment: Outdoor kitties will need a bath more frequently than their indoor counterpart.
- Coat length and type: Longer coats will require more maintenance than short coat cats.
- Self-grooming behavior: Cats that cannot or do not groom themselves efficiently need regular baths to keep their coat from becoming greasy or sticky. Also, overweight cats have difficulty reaching all areas of the body, so they will need bathed more regularly – the back side of these kitties often become matted and the skin can become itchy, flaky or even infected
- Activity level: Cats that are highly active will require more frequent bathing
- Health issues: Issues like skin irritation, tick or flea infestation and loose stool can require more attention.
The National Cat Groomers of America recommends cats get a bath and blown dry every 4-6 weeks to keep their coats from getting matted or pelted.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends following these steps to make bath time for your kitty less stressful (for you and them):
- Bathe yourcat when they are mellow- tire them out with a play session beforehand
- Trim your cat’s nails before bathing (see PetFirst Pet Insurance’s video on how to trim your cat’s nails)
- Brush your cat to remove any loose hair or mats
- Place cotton in your cat’s ears to keep water out
- Use a rubber mat in the sink or tub to keep your cat from slipping
- Use a hand-help sprayer to wet your pet – do not spray directly in the cat’s ears, eyes or nose
- Massage a solution of 1 part cat shampoo to 5 parts water – work from head to tail and avoid the face, ears and eyes
- Rinse your cat thoroughly with lukewarm water – make sure all soap residue has been removed
- Use a washcloth to wipe your pet’s face with water (or a more diluted solution of shampoo)
- Wrap your kitty in a large towel and dry her with in a warm place – use a blow dryer on its lowest setting and untangle her fur with a wide-tooth comb
- Praise your cat and reward them with a special treat for a successful bath