Do You Need to Bathe Your Cat? Here’s How to Do It Right

The first time my mom had to bathe me, I was 7 months old.

One summer afternoon, I came into the house covered in grease and other filth, having apparently decided to camp out under a junk car on my mom’s property. My foster mom’s mother took one look at me and said, “Pinky, give Fish a bath.”


With visions of deadly combat dancing in her head, she took me into the bathroom, closed the door behind me, and set me in the sink. As the water started running, I didn’t try to flee. In fact, I just kind of sat there. The sink filled, and she waited for the other shoe to drop. Then she started lathering me up with some soap, and my mom was sure that I was going to get shredded. However, I just sat there and purred and purred as she scrubbed and rinsed, scrubbed and rinsed.

Two years later, I had another opportunity to witness bathe cats. This time it was Shin, 7 weeks old, my mom’s best friend’s.

She got some cat-safe shampoo and set to work, one kitten at a time. He struggled, scrabbled, and tried his hardest to claw her, but he was too small to do any damage.

When to bathe your cat


The moral of the story is that although cats are excellent self-groomers, there are times when we do have to intercede. Here are some examples:

  1. Your cat gets toxic and/or stinky stuff in her fur as Purr Bear did.
  2. If your cat gets parasites and she’s too young for flea control products like Sinéad and Siouxsie were.
  3. If your cat is a hairless breed like a Sphynx(bathe every one to two weeks because of oil buildup on the skin).
  4. Your cat is too overweight to clean herself properly.
  5. If your cat has medical problems such as arthritis that prevent her from being able to groom well.
  6. Your cat has a litter box accident and gets some on herself.

The good news is two-fold: a) it’s usually not as hellish to give your cat a bath as you’ve been led to believe and b) you don’t necessarily have to give your cat a full bath for some of these circumstances. Here are some alternatives to giving your cat a good soaking bath.


A washcloth and warm water

For cleaning minor stains or getting food out of your cat’s face fur, dampen a washcloth with warm water and rub in the direction of the fur. Use one finger and mimic the motions of a cat mom licking her babies; chances are your cat will actually enjoy this treatment. A slightly wetter washcloth can help remove poop from your cat’s bloomers.

Use cat wipes

If you’re familiar with baby wipes, cat wipes are the feline version. They’re usually slightly damp and contain cat-safe detergent and conditioners to help remove light dirt, minor stains and the saliva that produces reactions in cat-allergic people. If you use wipes, be sure to buy only products made for cats. And I recommend unscented wipes if possible.

How to give your cat a dry bath

Dry baths typically come in the form of a powder or foam that you massage into your cat’s fur and leave there. I’ve never used dry baths so I don’t know how well they work, but reviews on a popular online retail site indicate that the foam products work better and are less messy than the powders. Also, please get dry baths specifically for cats. Dry baths for dogs or other animals may contain products that are toxic to cats.

Have you ever had to give your cat a bath? Have you used cat wipes or dry baths? How did they work? Please share your kitty bathing experiences in the comments.

Source: Caster Lifestyle
Top photograph: Alexander Pytskiy/Getty Images



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