Should I Bathe My Cat?

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, talks about whether you should give your cat a bath.

Posted: October 15, 2010, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: Should I bathe my cat?

A: Bathing a cat is not for wimps and I only take it on if it’s absolutely necessary. My senior cat Simon is very feisty and does not like to be bathed.

He is a little overweight, however, and cannot always reach certain areas to clean himself properly. That said, we have reached a compromise. I give him a very good brushing from nose to tail, then wipe him down thoroughly with baby wipes (they are just as good as pet wipes and less expensive). He is clean and we are still friends.

Cats are very clean animals but sometimes, because of age or other factors, they need our help. I remember one of my cats smeared himself against a wall I had just painted — needless to say he went into the sink immediately. For finicky bathers, a dry shampoo sold at pet stores requires no water. You just rub it in and brush it out. Please follow all directions.

If you have a sick cat who cannot groom himself and isn’t happy about your doing it, try researching groomers who will come to the house. Wiping him down with a warm hand towel once a month to remove excess oils and dirt is a good idea; speak to him in a calm voice while doing so. If you must bathe a very feisty cat, ask your vet for some calming medication and see if you can get someone to help you.

As always I welcome your comments and stories.

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Reader Comments

KinKStar    Lake City, FL

10/21/2010 7:12:17 PM

I used to wash my first cat (she's over 18 years old now) twice a year, to remove seasonal hair, and kept up the routine when WE took in the next cat from the streets. As long as I set everything up first, it took less than 10 minutes each.

Ah, but when word spread among the neighborhood fuzzybutts, more cats came to join our family and soon that routine was lost. I now use baby wipes periodically, a dampened papertowel or washcloth to keep everyone looking and feeling better about themself as they age and can't reach places as easily.

Holly    Stouffville, ON

10/21/2010 5:46:59 PM

I've only ever brushed my cats. They've never needed a bath and they are 3 1/2 years old. I've heard you should bathe them once or twice a year.... but I don't see the point in stressing them out if they keep themselves clean anyway.

Cathy    Hubbard, OH

10/21/2010 9:44:26 AM

My four kitties have a daily brushing regime, but they always look very clean. Therefore, I don't see the neccesity in putting them through bathing. I like the baby wipe idea Jeanne.

karen    cheektowaga, NY

10/20/2010 11:46:40 AM

I give all of my long haired cats a bath ONCE a year. I also shave them short in the summertime. Ff introduced to water and a bath as kittens, they come to tollerate it as adults. Plus it is a good idea to get them used to being brushed,so when you need to groom can !!!

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