Do Cats Need Baths?

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Why you should bathe your cat.

If you ever watch your cat closely, you may be fascinated by the amount of time they invest in grooming themself. Self-care and personal hygiene? Cats have these skills down pat.

Luckily for them, their bristled tongues make excellent grooming tools. Cats spend a considerable amount of time licking every reachable part of their body. But sometimes, cats need our help to stay clean and maintain healthy skin and coats.

How Do You Know When Your Cat Needs a Bath?

Often, cats’ fastidious grooming practices are sufficient to help keep them clean and happy. However, there are a few situations when your cat might need a bath.

Overweight Cats

Cats that are overweight may have a hard time reaching certain areas on their bodies to clean and groom, such as:

  • The back half of the body
  • Around the tail and private regions

As a result, these areas tend to collect dirt and debris, and are prone to hair clumping or matting; the cat might also begin to smell. Regular bathing can help break down these mats as well as remove dirt, excess hair and accumulating skin debris the cat can’t remove on their own.

Older Cats

Older cats may be incapable of keeping up with their grooming needs. If your senior cat can no longer reach to clean, or if they have arthritis, weakness or other issues preventing them from grooming effectively, you may need to bathe them regularly. Using a general-purpose pet grooming shampoo should be sufficient.

Cats with Skin Conditions

Sometimes cats have skin issues that cause dry, flaky skin or even irritated, itchy skin. This can become an issue when they lick and scratch at their skin in an effort to provide relief — possibly making the issue worse and compounding the problem, while opening the door to skin infections.

Use a condition-specific shampoo when you give your cat a bath to help them find relief and stay clean. These shampoos typically include soothing and hydrating agents like omega-6 fatty acids and colloidal oatmeal that promote skin health.

Cats with Fleas or Ticks

If your cat has fleas or ticks, there are specific shampoos designed to remove and kill these biting pests on contact. These shampoos are effective because they cover most of the cat’s body and saturate the hair down to the skin where fleas and ticks hide.

Wait, Aren’t Cats Afraid of Water?

Despite what many TV shows and comics would have you believe, cats are not always water averse. Leave your faucet running, for example, and see how a cat will play with the stream, even putting their head and paws under it.

With some patience and care, bathing your cat doesn’t need to be traumatic for either of you — and you’ll both be happy with the results.

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