Should I Bathe My Cat?

Should I Bathe My Cat?

Big cats like tigers, leopards, and lions are known to love to get wet and are excellent swimmers. However, most domestic cats do not feel the same way.

For the most part, you do not need to bathe your cat because they already keep themselves clean. However, if you have a hairless breed, an elderly cat, or a cat that has fleas or ticks, you may need to bathe them. You will want to use shampoo made exclusively for cats.

Bathing your cat will help both you and them because it removes the excess oil, dander, and shed hair, which is excellent if you have allergies. If you have never bathed your cat, and need some tips, check out this article.

Cat bath in Peoria, IL

Is Bathing My Cat a Good Idea?

Cats commonly do not need to be bathed, as they are self-regulating creatures who prefer to bathe themselves. Cats spend about half the day bathing themselves. Unless you have an over-groomer on your hands, in which case, your fine-looking feline may be spending the good part of their day primping and preening themselves.

Another factor to consider is that if you choose to bathe your cat regularly, they could develop a negative association with you handling them. You may go to pet your cat and find that you are on the receiving end of some serious resentment on their part. This antipathy would be due to your insistence on bathing them, which can affect your bond with your cat.

However, it is essential that you help to clean inside your cat’s ears, trim their nails about every two to three weeks, and brush them regularly, especially if they have long hair. There are certain instances in which you ought to bathe your feline more regularly:

  • Hairless breeds, such as Sphinx cats, sometimes need more assistance.
  • Elderly cats who cannot bathe themselves anymore.
  • Obese cats who cannot reach everywhere to bathe.
  • Purebred cats, who you are taking to a show.
  • Cats unwell with diarrhea.
  • Stray cats who may be dirty, if you decide to take one in.
  • Fleas or ticks have made a home in your cat’s fur.

Another situation in which you may need to bathe your cat is if they have an underlying medical condition like arthritis and they cannot keep up with their cleaning routine. Incontinence could be another reason why a cat could use a helping hand. When you brush your cat, you are essentially helping them groom, which means that a bath is typically unnecessary.

What Do I Need if I Bathe My Cat?

If you do decide to take the “dive,” so to speak, there are some key items that you will need to be able to get through it with as little fuss as possible. The faster the process goes, the better it is for you and your feline companion. The following are several of the items you will want to gather for bath time:

  • Cat shampoo
  • Cotton balls
  • Large cup
  • Large towel
  • Rubber gloves
  • Small washcloth

You will use the cotton balls to clean your cat’s ears and the washcloth to wash their face. A large cup is suitable for rinsing. You should also use shampoo specifically for felines. Burt’s Bees for Cats hypoallergenic shampoo is a great option. It is fragrance-free for cats and free of sulfates and harsh chemicals.

Advantage Flea and Tick remedy shampoo for cats and kittens is an excellent option if your cat has been exposed to fleas or ticks. It kills fleas on contact and is safe for cats and kittens more than 12 weeks old. It is scientifically formulated to combat these pesky parasites. If you do not have cat shampoo, you can use baby shampoo, but do not use your own or any other human products, as it is unsafe.

You can also use a plastic tub, which you can purchase from a pet store if you do not want to use the tub or sink. If you do use the tub or sink, make sure you have a non-slip mat, so your cat does not have an accident or get hurt.

How Exactly Do I Bathe my Cat?

Many cat parents do not know how to give their cats a bath, which is logical since cats typically bathe themselves. If you are in the small percentage of pet parents who need to perform this task, you can follow these suggestions:

How To Begin

When bathing your cat, you should fill the sink or tub first before your cat even enters the room. While it may be the most relaxing sound in the world to many humans, most cats do not particularly like the sound of running water. There are exceptions, but as a general rule, always presume your cat will be skittish about bathtub time.

Fill the sink or tub with about three inches of warm water. Test the water first to make certain it is not too hot. Lure kitty into the bathroom by putting a toy in the tub or sink or using treats as an incentive. Gently wet your cat’s coat, carefully avoiding getting it in their face.

Washing Them

After you get your cat’s coat wet, rub the shampoo in their hair and lather it thoroughly, as you would your hair. Get all the soap out of your cat’s fur by rinsing it with a large cup. Pour it until the water runs clear. Use a washcloth to wipe your cat’s face gently.

Drying Them is Essential 

Take your feline out of the water and wrap them up in a dry bath towel. Your cat may want to dry more quickly, and you can help them by using a blow dryer and putting it in a cool setting to dry their fur. Ensure the dryer is not hot enough to harm or burn your cat.

Quick Tips

Baths and cats typically do not go together like peas and carrots. Your feisty feline may not be as cooperative as you want. If you want the experience to be a successful one, there are a few points you should keep in mind when bathing your cat:

Trim Their Nails First

Your cat may lash out and scratch you if they are not enthusiastic about the idea of a bath. Trim their nails before bath time to be safe.

Sweet Talk Them

Your cat might be afraid of the water, and it may be a good idea to talk to them in a calm, relaxed tone, so they feel reassured. Talk to your cat as you are washing them.

Start Slowly

If you have a particularly scaredy cat, you can slowly introduce them to the water by getting little drips onto their paws to get them acclimated to the water.

Close the Door

Before you get your cat into the water, close the bathroom door, so they cannot try to bolt. This way, you do not have a soapy cat running around the house.

Leave it to The Experts

If all else fails, and your cat objects to being bathed, take them to a professional groomer. They get paid to handle disagreeable fur babies.


Most cats do not require baths, as they are natural groomers. However, there are some instances where you may need to bathe your cat, and you want to accomplish this in a way that is safe and acceptable to your feline companion.

For cats and cat parents in the Peoria, IL region, Whitney Veterinary Hospital is here for you. Call us today at (309) 685-4707 or make an appointment online!