Cats are known to spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming themselves. Their tongues have tiny barbs called papillae, which help distribute cleansing saliva across their fur as they groom. What’s more, cats have glands on their face, rump, neck, and paws that secrete an oil known as sebum. As they groom, cats spread the sebum across their coat, helping their fur stay clean and shiny.
Since they spend such an excessive amount of time grooming themselves, do cats ever need a bath?
In most cases, your cat’s dedicated grooming routine is typically sufficient to keep them clean and healthy. Bathing your cat unnecessarily will only cause stress and could even compromise their skin microbiome and irritate their skin.
In rare instances, your cat may be exposed to a substance or scent that is too pervasive to remove on their own. They may need some grooming assistance from you if this happens.
When your cat might need a bath
The following are a few scenarios in which your cat may benefit from a bath:
· A skunk sprays them: Baths can be a helpful way to deskunk a cat, but you should speak to your veterinarian about the best cleansing solution to use, so you don’t risk irritating your cat’s skin or fur.
· They roll in something extra smelly: When you simply can’t stand the smell of your cat, a bath is a promising solution. Always use pet-friendly shampoo. Start with a sponge bath if you’re worried your cat won’t tolerate a full bath.
· They have fleas or parasites: If your cat picks up fleas or parasites, a bath may help get rid of them. Before giving your cat a flea bath, speak to your veterinarian about the best flea remedies; there might be a less stressful alternative solution for your cat.
How often should you bathe a cat?
Since cats rarely ever need baths, there’s no need to create a bathing regime for your feline friend.
If your cat’s coat begins looking like it needs some attention, there may be alternatives to bathtime. Start by gently brushing your cat’s fur to loosen mats and remove debris. If necessary, use scissors to clip out any stubborn tangles.
Then, instead of putting your cat through the trauma of bathtime, use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe their fur clean. This will help remove any remaining dust that is caught in their coat.
Your cat should be able to handle the rest on their own!