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How Often Should I Bathe My Cat?

Whether one should bathe their feline friend or not is quite a serious question, mainly because most people believe that, since cats clean themselves every single day, bathing is not required.

Indeed, cats bathe themselves and this influences how often you should bathe your cat. However, this does not mean that you should never give your cat a bath.

In this respect, the following paragraphs of this article will tackle two major issues – namely, if you are supposed to give your cat baths and, if so, how often. You will also find answers to a couple of other concerns that cat owners have.

Therefore, let’s see exactly what this bathing problem is all about!

Are You Supposed to Give Cats Baths?

The short answer is yes – you should definitely give your cat a bath! However, as mentioned before, you do have to consider that cats clean themselves almost, if not daily. Thus, there are a couple of factors that have to be taken into account when it comes to bathing your cat.

Naturally, if your cat got itself in a rather dirty/sticky situation, then you will most certainly have to give it a bath. For example, if your pet is caught in the rain and gets back home all muddy, you are not going to just leave it dirty.

Besides the unexpected situations, you also have to take into consideration a number of other factors, as mentioned above. Let’s see what influences the frequency of the so-called bath time.

Bath Time Factors

According to various sources, cats don’t usually need to be bathed more than once a month. Some people say that they even settle with three mandatory baths a year – except the times when a bath is absolutely required.

Here’s what influences their frequency.

  • Environment – obviously, if your cat spends more time outdoors than indoors, then it will definitely need more frequent baths. While outside, it gets dirty faster and can pick up various germs and smells. When it comes to indoor cats, they usually have to be bathed around two times a year.
  • Self-Grooming – you have to pay attention to your cat’s self-grooming behavior. If it doesn’t groom efficiently, then you’ll need to add more baths in their schedule. Also, keep in mind that, if it is old or overweight, the cat will have a difficult time reaching all the areas of the body.
  • Coat Length – depending on the cat’s coat length and type, it might need more or fewer baths. Namely, cats with longer coats will need to be bathed more than cats with short coats.


  • Level of Activity – if your cat lays under the sun all day long, then you can settle for the two to three baths a year. However, if it runs through the house/garden all day long, then you might want to increase that number.
  • Health Issues – a cat needs to be bathed more frequently if it suffers from one of the following conditions: tick or flea infestation, skin irritation, loose stools, or other issues that would require special attention.

It is also recommended that you regularly check your cat, in terms of self-grooming and overall cleanliness, so to say. You may never know when they actually need a bath – after all, they can’t tell you that they need one!

Reasons to Bathe Your Cat

Now that we’ve covered the things that should make you consider giving your cat a bath, it’s time to move on to the reasons why you should give them one.

The following reasons are beneficial to both the owner and the cat, so make sure to read them properly. Moreover, don’t skip one just because you have nothing to gain from it – remember that your pet’s health is as important as yours, especially if you want them to be as happy as you!

  • A Bath Equals a Cleaner Cat

Obviously, giving your cat a bath will definitely make it cleaner. As mentioned before, there are a lot of scenarios that could result in a bath – stepping through mud, dirt, or such.

Moreover, a bath once in a while will make your cat’s coat both healthier and shinier – who doesn’t like their cat’s coat when it’s shiny, right?

  • Avoiding Skin Parasites and Fleas

Naturally, if your cat has any flea problems, then you should give it a bath. Also, look for flea shampoo that takes care of both flea eggs and adults so that you get rid of all the problems at once.

Furthermore, you can choose a flea shampoo with conditioner – this way, you will be able to keep your cat’s fur softer and shinier.

  • Avoiding Shedding

This is probably the reason that most of you have been expecting! It’s true, regularly bathing your cat reduces shedding. Moreover, by controlling your pet’s shedding, you also reduce any cat allergy symptoms that may occur.

Therefore, if your cat has a soft and/or long coat and sheds more than you can handle, then it is time for a bath!

Bathing Procedure

Moving on to the actual bathing procedure, you’ll find out that things are not as easy as they sound. In short, cats get really stressed when they feel that bath time is coming by.

If you have given your cat baths before, you know that after the said procedure, the cat will have a hard time trusting you again. Many people stated that their pet didn’t want to stay close to them, probably because it was afraid that it will receive another bath.

In this respect, the American Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (ASPCA) has come up with a bathing procedure meant to make baths less stressful, for both cats and owners (you’ve probably had a scratch mark or two after you tried giving your cat a bath for the first time).

  1. It is recommended that you bathe your cat when it is mellow; you could try to tire it out beforehand, maybe via a play session.
  2. You should also trim its nails before bathing.
  3. In order to remove any loose hair or mats that could get stuck in its fur while bathing, it is recommended that you brush it.
  4. Water must not get into the cat’s ears – grab some cotton and softly place it in their ears.
  5. Cats get really nervous when dipped into water and start to struggle – in order to prevent them from slipping and diving under, so to speak, use a rubber mat in the tub/sink.
  6. In order to wet the upper parts of the cat, namely their head, you should use a hand-held sprayer. Keep in mind that you must not spray water directly in their nose, eyes, or ears. Obviously, you mustn’t dunk them under water.
  7. A solution of 1-part cat shampoo and 5 parts water is recommended when bathing. Also, bathing should be done as a massage, starting from head to tail, and avoiding the face.
  8. When rinsing, you should use lukewarm water. Also, make sure that all the soap residues are removed, by thorough rinsing.
  9. When you wipe your pet’s face with water, it is recommended that you use either a washcloth or a more diluted shampoo solution.
  10. After you’re done, grab the fluffiest towel you have and wrap it around your cat. Then, proceed to dry it in a warm place, by making use of a blow dryer (lowest setting recommended) and of a wide-tooth comb to untangle its fur.
  11. Well, now it depends on your cat’s expression – we think you can already figure out if it’s angry or not. If the cat is angry, pet it and give it a couple of treats so that you make up to it. However, if you follow these instructions, your cat should only enjoy the bath and, who knows, maybe look forward to the next one.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, even though they do a great job at cleaning themselves, cats do really need their owners to give them a bath once in a while. You, as a proud owner, will have to keep an eye on their habits and choose the right time for bathing – after all, you don’t want to upset them with unnecessary bath time.

Moreover, keep in mind all the factors that influence the bath time. For example, if your cat is averse to water, then you might want to try a waterless shampoo. On the other hand, if you want to get rid of ticks and fleas, then go for the shampoo that does just that.

Also, when it comes to a cat that has itchy or dry skin, or yeast infections, you might want to consult with the veterinary and have him recommend you a medicated/hypoallergenic shampoo.

If none of the above apply, then you can rely on a general-purpose shampoo or on one that’s specially designed for cats.

It might sound like a lot of work, but we assure you that keeping your cat clean and healthy will make you happy and proud of being a cat owner!