Do cats need to be bathed?
Most cat owners know that their feline friends are very good at keeping themselves clean. This is because mother nature has given them the tools needed to do just that. All cats have barbed tongues, the little hooks of which help to remove dirt and debris from their fur and keep their coats smooth and unmated. They also have forepaws that they can moisten with their own saliva, which they then use to wash their faces.
What this natural ability to clean themselves means is that as a general rule, cats don’t need to be bathed and will take care of their grooming requirements with little or no human interference. However, there are some exceptional circumstances that mean that giving them a bath really is necessary. This typically involves them having rolled in something that they can’t or shouldn’t remove themselves, or if they have very long hair that has become matted and requires human help to untangle.
If you haven’t ever bathed a cat before, here’s what you need to know about the process!
How to bathe a cat
Unless your feline friend is one of the very rare cats that likes water, bathing them is going to be tricky and you should prepare yourself for some resistance! One of the best ways to undertake the process is by being prepared with all of the necessary equipment so that you can make it as fast and stress-free as possible – for both of you!
Before you start, give your cat a good brush. This will help to remove as much dirt as possible and minimize any matting of their fur. Many owners choose to bath their cats in a sink as it is a suitable height and easier to keep them contained in the small space. Fill it with warm water and place the necessary equipment within arm’s reach. This includes cat shampoo (and conditioner), a jug for rinsing and some warm towels for drying.
Once your cat is in the sink, try and secure them as well as you can. You may wish to have another person with you who can try and distract your furbaby with attention and treats while you try to do the actual cleaning. Use your hands to get the dirty areas of your cat wet and apply a small amount of their specialist shampoo to this. Never apply shampoo to your cat’s face. Work the shampoo on the body into a thick lather and spread it all over the dirty areas. Then rinse using jugs of warm water, being careful to avoid your feline’s face and ears. If you are using a conditioner too, repeat the process. Be sure to rinse your pet thoroughly as you don’t want to be leaving residual shampoo on their fur that they then swallow when they groom themselves later on.
Finally, take your cat out of the bath and rest them on the warm towels. They may wish to shake themselves to remove excess droplets, but then wrap them in the towel to help them to dry. Never be tempted to use a hairdryer as this could burn your cat and the sound could be very frightening.
Cleaning your cat’s face
If your cat has a dirty face you will need to take special care when cleaning it. Don’t ever splash water in their face or dunk their head in water, this won’t help, and it will make your cat extremely scared. Instead, use a warm, damp cloth to gently wipe the dirt away from their face and ears.
For more advice on how to bathe your cat, please don’t hesitate to contact our veterinary team.