Do pet cats need baths?
- The Spruce Pets explains that cats groom themselves so often—up to 50% of their waking hours—for four primary reasons: to cleanse injuries, hide their scent from predators, “to groom and lubricate the coat and skin,” and simply for pleasure.
- Homeguide.com states that, as of February 2023, the average national price for grooming a house cat was about $50.
- The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that in 2017-2018, there were approximately 58,385,725 pet cats owned in the United States.
- Cat tongues feel very rough because they are “covered with tiny barbs, called papillae…which help cats pick dirt and debris out of their fur while straightening and neatening everything out.”
The world’s most prominent animal welfare organizations and animal care experts advise against giving baths to house cats. This is primarily because cats are well-known to be extremely effective self-groomers, unlike dogs, who often intentionally dirty themselves.
When owners bathe their pet cats, who notoriously dislike and avoid water, it can reduce trust and damage their relationship. The experience can bring extreme stress and even potentially cause injury to the owner and animal alike. Additionally, excessive bathing can cause skin dryness in domestic cats, as it’s simply not needed on top of their habitual self-bathing.
Sometimes, in a few specific instances, like with hairless cats and young kittens who lack mothers, there may be exceptional cases when cats will need occasional assistance keeping clean. In the case of infant motherless kittens, as the cat matures, it will quickly learn to take over on its own. Otherwise, helping a house cat with grooming simply entails nail trimming and dry brushing.
Because they are excellent at their natural self-cleaning behaviors, which they spend up to half of each day performing with their tongues and paws, cat baths are unnecessary, barring extreme circumstances. Even in the case of an unexpected incident – like an unfortunate run-in with a skunk, for example – rather than attempt to handle it at home, it’s a much better idea to bring the smelly hypothetical feline to a qualified and experienced professional groomer for that otherwise uncalled-for bath. Ultimately, excluding rare exceptions, plunging a cat into a wet bath is a stressful, harmful experience that owners and pets are both best served to skip.
Though cats tend to scream bloody murder at the sight of water, baths are a must for them.
According to the National Cat Groomers Institute of America, cats should be groomed every 4-6 weeks, which rids them of grease, loose hair, and other issues that can make their fur matted. This duration, however, may change as different factors can lead to cats getting baths more often.
Elderly cats, especially long-haired ones, must be bathed once every month as they can’t groom themselves properly. Therefore, they may end up with uncomfortable mats and injuries such as bruising.
Overweight and indoor/outdoor cats also need assistance in the grooming department. Bathing overweight cats ensures their overall cleanliness since they may not reach some parts of their bodies. Meanwhile, grooming indoor/outdoor cats protects their health and prevents infections.
Another reason to bathe a cat is its breed. The sphynx, for instance, requires frequent bathing, generally once a week. Since it doesn’t have hair, it tends to have more oil on its skin, causing it to get dirty often.
Cats may also need baths to treat or manage different health issues. Medicated shampoo can be used for anything from fungal infections to allergies and all the way to pests like ticks.
All this aside, cats may need baths because of their cattitude. Their curiosity can make them get caught up in something sticky, smelly, or even toxic. Therefore, they need human assistance to clean up before they get sick.
But before planning their cats’ next bath, owners should learn how to bathe their fur babies stress-free. That way, they can prevent emotional trauma while keeping their kitties clean.