Do Cats Need Baths? An Expert Weighs In

Burst / Matthew Henry

Cats are unique little creatures who are known to have their own set of interesting preferences. For example, cardboard boxes are cat-approved, and so is playing with their owner’s feet. But baths? That’s another story. One thing that many cats seem to be known for is their intense dislike of water, making kitty bath time virtually impossible. But a better question may be, do cats even need baths? Do we even have to go through the whole runaround of trying to wrestle our cat into the tub or sink, or is the grooming they do on their own enough? To help get some insight on this, POPSUGAR spoke to an expert to learn more.

Do Cats Need a Bath?

According to Dr. Matthew McCarthy, DVM, veterinarian and owner of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital in Middle Village, NY, cats do not typically need to be bathed regularly. “Cats are very good at bathing themselves through their constant grooming, for example, tongue baths,” said Dr. McCarthy, “In addition, many cats have an aversion to water – so like oil and vinegar, cats and water don’t mix well.”

However, he does point out that sometimes cats may need a bath for certain reasons, such as removing fleas and treating skin infections. In these cases, Dr. McCarthy recommended washing your furry friend in your bathtub and using a shampoo that is specialized in treating that specific condition. “If possible, place a slanted window screen in the tub, as this will give your kitty some secure footing and help them stay put, but allow water to pass through easily,” Dr. McCarthy said. He also advised that after lathering, you should make sure your cat is rinsed thoroughly and dried with a towel and warm air blower.

Should I Use Cat Bath Alternatives?

Although bath wipes and waterless shampoos are tempting to use on our pets, Dr. McCarthy suggested that they are not necessary if your cat is able to groom themself. “Cats keep themselves clean, and wiping them down with some product, many of which are scented, is more often done for us humans than for our kitties,” he advised. However, if you do notice an odor coming from your cat’s fur or a change in its texture, you should speak with your veterinarian to make sure there is nothing else going on.

So, How Should I Help Keep My Cat Clean?

If bathing a cat regularly is out of the question and bathing wipes aren’t the most ideal solution, then how exactly can we help keep our cats clean? “Get in the habit of brushing their coat on a regular basis,” explained Dr. McCarthy. It is important to try to instill this routine when they are young so that they become used to it and don’t fight you when the cat comb comes out. “It will pay off tremendously when they are older, less flexible kitties that actually need some help in getting to those hard-to-reach areas that need some licking and grooming,” he added.

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