Do Cats Need Baths? And If So, How Often?

Let’s face it: cats are obsessed with keeping themselves clean! If it seems like your kitty never stops licking themselves, you’re not far off. The fact that cats spend up to 50% of their time grooming themselves is just one of their many quirky habits. Because feline friends are such dedicated self-groomers, you may wonder how often to bathe your cat...or if it’s even necessary! Read on to learn the answers to these bath time questions.

Do Cats Need Baths?

Yes, all cats need baths occasionally. Although your kitty probably sees themselves as a more-than-capable groomer, debris like mud, sap, and excess dirt can be extremely difficult for a cat to remove from their own coat; a thorough bath may be the only way to get rid of the gunk. And if your cat gets sprayed by a skunk, a bath is a must. So, an outdoor cat who likes to explore nature will probably need more frequent bathing than an indoor cat.

Your kitty’s physical traits can also affect their need for some grooming assistance. Cats who are obese, elderly, or have arthritis may not be able to reach all areas of their body when grooming themselves. Plus, longhaired cats might have a hard time thoroughly cleaning their body and hairless breeds need baths to get rid of excess body oils. All of these furry friends should receive periodic baths to stay clean enough for both of your standards.

If you or a family member has a cat allergy, it’s a good idea to bathe your kitty regularly. This will help reduce the amount of allergy-causing dander in your home. Just be sure to put someone who is not allergic on bath time duty!

How Often Do Cats Need Baths?

Receiving a bath once every 4 to 6 weeks will work for most cats, according to National Cat Groomer’s Institute. As a rule of thumb, it’s smart to bathe your kitty when needed. If you notice something smelly in your cat’s fur, for instance, take the opportunity to wash them. Bathing your cat too often can dry out their skin, so use your best judgment to decide when it’s time for a bath. Ask your veterinarian how often your cat needs baths if they contract ticks or fleas, as they may need more frequent washing.

How Can I Keep My Cat Calm During a Bath?

cat getting bath

Cats and water are not always the best of friends, so finding a way to keep your kitty calm during a bath can be invaluable. Follow these tips to help your cat keep their cool.

Tire them out: Play with your cat for a little while before bath time to help them burn off excess energy. You might be surprised just how much a few minutes of playtime can tucker out your kitty!

Show positive behavior: One of the simplest ways to help keep your cat calm is to keep yourself calm. Don’t make any nervous or sudden moves during bath time, and always praise your cat when they let you wash them. Don’t forget to give them a treat after their bath to let them know they did a great job.

Use waterless shampoo: If there’s one aspect of bath time that humans and cats both can’t stand, it’s getting sudsy water in our eyes. Opt for a waterless cat shampoo that won’t irritate their eyes or skin. If you must use water, place a cotton ball in each of your kitty’s ears to help keep them dry.

How Else Can I Help Keep My Cat Clean?

cat love glove

You may not need to bathe your cat very often, but there are plenty of other ways to help them look their best. These are some of the simplest, most effective methods.

Brush their coat: Use a slicker brush to gently capture loose hair from your cat’s coat and stimulate the skin’s oils. Brush in the direction of your cat’s hair growth, working on one section at a time. Looking for something even more therapeutic? Our Magic Coat Love Glove is an excellent way to groom your feline friend while getting in some important bonding time.

Clean their eyes and ears: Giving your kitty’s face some care is an easy way to keep them feeling clean—without the time and effort of a bath. Simply wrap your cat in a towel to help keep them calm and remove debris using pet ear wipes and pet eye wipes.

Clip their nails: When it does come time for a bath, you won’t want to accidentally get scratched. Regularly trimming your cat’s nails will help avoid this and can even prevent your cat from clawing the furniture. Gently press on your kitty’s paw pad and slowly start trimming using a cat nail clipper.

To learn more about keeping your cat clean—including how to give your kitty a bath—check out our tips and advice on cat grooming.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Tub!

Cats do need baths, and teaching your kitty to accept some occasional bathing will help them stay calm in the future. Your cat will probably learn to trust you in the tub after a few repetitions, and they certainly won’t mind looking even cleaner than before!