Can I bathe my cat every day? In short, no, it is not wise or necessary to bathe a cat every day. The reason for not bathing a cat on a daily basis is that cats are expert groomers of their coat and skin. They groom themselves for approximately five hours daily, every single day. Most cats do not need to be bathed at all.
There are a few exceptions. If any of the following apply, then a bath or a wash is a good idea.
When Should I Bathe My Cat?
There is no particular rule about this, use your judgment. You may wish to bathe your cat if:
- Your cat has a severe infestation of fleas. A bath with flea shampoo is a quick way to give the cat instant relief from the continual scratching associated with fleas. This is commonly done in cat shelters where flea infestations are common. In this case, a cat flea shampoo is used.
- Likewise, if your outdoor cat has become particularly dirty from rolling or walking through excrement or slime or some other unpleasantness, a bath may be in order. Preferably, use an unscented cat shampoo.
- An elderly cat will frequently benefit from a shampoo because they are unable to properly groom themselves and begin to look ragged. In this case, a full bath is not necessary but rather a sponge bath to remove dirt, grime, and debris. An alternative is to use a dry foam shampoo.
A brush with a massage glove will also help to remove dirt and dust. If you don’t already do this, I recommend it with cats of any age. It is relaxing and a lovely part of cat care.
- Some cat breeds actually require regular bathing to control the oiliness of their skin, such as the hairless Sphynx, whose oily residue can stain bedding and soft furnishings. Cats that receive baths on a regular basis from an early age tend to be more at ease around water.
- Matted fur is sometimes part of a regime of cat care that may include bathing. Sometimes the fur will also need a trim. Overweight cats may fall into this category. If you are not confident with this procedure, a trip to the vet or cat groomer would be advised.
Most cats, but not all, dislike being bathed and may use their claws to show their displeasure. Give your cat’s nails a trim before bathing. This will minimize the risk of getting scratched.
If it is absolutely necessary to wash the cat, a quick and efficient clean will be best for everybody.
Why You Should Not Bathe Your Cat Every Day
I’m sure you have good intentions about bathing your cat regularly. After all, we don’t hesitate to give our dogs a bath when they start to smell less than desirable or just too “doggy.” However, there is a difference.
Dogs don’t groom themselves and every so often need a bath, whereas cats are constant groomers.
Cats are excellent self groomers. The coat is kept clean by distributing natural skin oils, but it also cools your feline friend through the evaporation of saliva, stimulates circulation, and helps to eliminate parasites.
If you bathe your cat, he will immediately start licking his fur once the whole bath time is over to get his equilibrium back to normal.
Some cats tolerate water and may put up with a bath, but the actual bath is totally unnecessary apart from the reasons listed at the top of this article.
How Do Cats Clean Themselves?
If your feline friend doesn’t need to be bathed, how do they groom themselves and keep clean? We know that cats spend approximately five hours per day licking to maintain a healthy coat. Cats are very well equipped to groom themselves.
Using a pet massage glove will also help your cat keep his coat in top shape.
The tongue of a cat feels rough, like sandpaper. You may have noticed this if your cat has ever licked you. The tongue is actually made of tiny, sharp spines, which hold the cat’s saliva.
With long licking strokes, the tongue is used to clean the legs, the shoulders, and the body of the cat. The spines on the tongue can reach the cat’s skin.
To clean the face and head, the procedure is slightly different. The cat moistens its forepaws with saliva and, in a routine manner, strokes the face and behind the ears. The cat does both sides of the face and head in the same manner.
Picturing a cat in our mind will bring up these images instantly, as the cat spends so much time making himself shipshape.
The same procedure is always followed. It is part of cat behavior.
Cats also groom to keep cool as they do not sweat like humans.
The Persian cat breed has difficulty grooming using the tongue. The spines on the tongue are unable to reach the skin of the cat because of the length of its fur. When owning a Persian, the fur can get matted easily, so daily brushing is recommended.
In this case, the coat length determines the need to bathe. Other long-haired breeds of cats may also need to be bathed from time to time.
Practical help – How To Bathe A Cat?
The first part of this article reviews different types of cat flea shampoo and which one works well to get rid of fleas. The second half of the article gives tips for bathing your cat safely, plus a link to a video that outlines the procedure clearly.
If it is absolutely necessary to bathe the cat, try this tip which will assist with keeping the cat still while in the bathing receptacle.
Before filling the basin with water, place a rubber mat or a folded towel in the bottom. This will provide a non skid surface and will help stop the cat from losing his footing and skidding, which will lead to distress. A large towel will also allow the cat to stick his claws into the towel.
If the cat loses his footing, he will want to disappear, so it is best to avoid this happening during the bathing process in the first place, where possible. It is important to keep the cat still while giving it a bath and to avoid any product getting into the cat’s eyes. You need complete control over the procedure. If possible, have someone there to assist.
A medicated shampoo is suggested if your cat has a skin irritation.
Before bath time, give the cat’s coat a brush to remove any loose hair.
Use some cotton balls in your cat’s ears to stop water from entering the ears.
Using a shower head, will allow you to direct the water efficiently.
Can I Use Human Shampoo?
Using human shampoo on your cat is a big no-no. Human shampoos have product in them that can irritate your cat’s skin and cause allergic reactions. Plus, cats have sensitive skin, so they need shampoos that are made especially for them.
Cat shampoos are way more gentle for cat hair and skin, and they help to keep their coat soft and shiny. If you really have to use some of your shampoo, just use a tiny amount and mix it with some lukewarm water first. But be careful not to get any in their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Dry Shampoo or Waterless Bath? What Is This?
Shampoo for a cat that is described as “waterless” is generally a foam product.
Shampoo for a cat that is labelled as “dry” is often a wet product that is sprayed onto the cat’s coat. In this case, the word “dry” refers to the cat not actually being bathed. This is not the sort of dry shampoo that we are used to using on our own hair, which has a powdery base.
When your cat needs to be bathed but circumstances make that difficult, a dry cat shampoo is a good option.
How To Bathe A Cat Without Water
Using a dry or waterless shampoo is a good alternative to bathing a cat.
Spray the waterless shampoo onto the cat’s fur, avoiding the eye area
Work the dry shampoo into the fur
Brush the cat or use a pet massage glove to spread the shampoo over the cat’s body
Let the shampoo dry and brush the cat’s coat again.
What if the cat licks the waterless shampoo, is it safe?
Some are safe for the cat to lick, whereas others recommend waiting a couple of minutes for the product to dry properly. Every product is different, and this is something that you would definitely need to check before purchasing.
How Often Should I Bathe My Indoor Cat?
It may seem as though this article relates more to cats that spend some time outdoors, but there are also instances where indoor cats need to bathe.
An indoor cat can still get dirty enough that bathing is needed to clean the cat’s coat.
To illustrate this point, one Reddit user had a nail polish incident with her indoor cat. That must have been a nightmare to remove.
Can You Shower Cats?
It would be exceedingly difficult to shower a cat, but you might find it convenient to bathe your cat in the shower stall, while still using a receptacle such as a basin.
A flexible shower hose does allow for the water to be specifically directed. Water is only directed to the areas that require it, and the eye area can be avoided.
There is also the added advantage that, being in the shower stall, it does not matter if excess water spills or splashes, as it will be contained in the shower stall.
One drawback is that it could be uncomfortable crouching in the shower stall. Something I have often used for jobs such as this is a child’s plastic stool. Sometimes a child’s chair is just the right height for a tricky job.
As you have probably now concluded, there is no hard and fast rule about bathing your cat. Many people will own a cat that has never had a bath. That is quite okay, just as it is acceptable to give a cat a bath when it is needed.
If you own a cat breed that will require more frequent bathing, for example, the Sphinx , it is recommended to begin at the kitten stage. The cat will then be accustomed to having regular baths, and there will be no drama.
Let us know of any other reasons that you have had for giving your cat a bath.