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Cat Baths 101: Fluffy’s Grooming Needs

February 15, 2024

Kitties are naturally very clean, which is one of the benefits of having them as pets. While Fido may enjoy rolling in mud puddles and definitely prefers not to take baths, Fluffy may spend as much as a third of her day cleaning herself. You won’t have to bathe your furry little diva, though you can if you like. However, there are some things to keep in mind if you do. In this article from your Carroll, IA & Jefferson area veterinary clinic, a localJefferson, IA area vet offers some tips on giving your feline buddy a bath … without ending up in the ER.

Are You Supposed To Bathe Cats?

This one is purrrsonal preference: both yours and your pet’s. If your cat really hates baths, it may just not be worth it. However, if you have a kitten, it’s not a bad idea to get her used to the process. This will make your life easier down the road if something ever gets spilled on her fur.

We do recommend that you consult your veterinarian before bathing Fluffy. If your pet is a senior, a kitten, has a medical condition, or is recovering from a wound or surgery, you definitely shouldn’t bathe her unless and until your Jefferson, IA area veterinarian says it’s okay.

Should I Bathe My Cat Every Week?

No: unless there is a medical reason, that would be too much. However, if you bathe her more than every four to six weeks, you could inadvertently be overbathing her. This may potentially strip the oils from her skin and coat, which could do more harm than good. Your pet may end up looking dry or even frizzy. This could cause skin irritation.

Do Cats Appreciate Baths?

If we were able to poll our feline patients on this, most of them would probably answer this question with a hard no. That said, there are a few kitties that apparently never got that memo. The Bengal and Turkish Angora, for example, enjoy water and even like to swim.

That said, it’s probably safe to say that your pet isn’t going to be happ about being bathed, at least in the short term. (Fluffy won’t sulk for long: she’ll probably have forgotten about it by dinnertime.)

That said, there are certain situations when being bathed will definitely help a kitty feel better. For instance, if your kitty is getting bathed because you accidentally dropped salad dressing on her or has had a run-in with a skunk, she’s going to be much more comfortable afterward. If you’ve just found a skinny, dirty stray, she’ll also appreciate feeling clean.

Kitties with flea infestations should also feel better after being bathed. However, parasite control falls more under Fluffy’s general medical care rather than her beauty regime.

How Should I Bathe My Cat?

Giving your feline buddy a bath isn’t rocket science, but there are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind here. Here are the most important ones:

  • Brush your furry buddy earlier that day or on the day before. This will help remove dead fur and dander from her coat.
  • You don’t absolutely have to wear full-body armor, but it’s probably a good idea to wear thick jeans and a long-sleeved shirt.  
  • Before bathing your furball, put a mat down in the tub or sink to keep it from getting scratched.
  • Make sure the water isn’t too hot! Our feline pals have very sensitive skin, so water that feels pleasantly hot to us can burn your kitty.  
  • The water shouldn’t be any deeper than your kitty’s chest.
  • Your kitty may not be happy about being bathed. If she cries, talk to her gently and pet her to soothe her.
  • Use shampoo made specifically for cats. Products meant for dogs or humans are too strong for kitties!
  • Don’t get suds on Fluffy’s head; use a washcloth to clean her face and ears.
  • Use a teapot or a sprayer to rinse your pet gently.

How Do I Dry My Cat Off?

Once you’ve finished with Fluffy’s bath, wrap her in a towel. Do not rub the towel vigorously; just press it into her fur so it can absorb some of the water. You can blow dry her on a low heat with a gentle setting if she doesn’t mind. However, don’t force the issue: if she’s over it, just let her go. Chances are, your furball will immediately retreat to a warm, comfortable spot and begin grooming himself to restyle her ‘do. (She may also occasionally glower at you to express her indignation at being subjected to being bathed.) Catnip, a new toy, or a yummy treat might help get that motor going again.

When Is The Best Time To Bathe My Cat?

In terms of timing, it’s really up to you. We do recommend waiting until it’s fairly warm outside so Fluffy doesn’t get too cold while drying off.

Why Do Cats Cry During Baths?

Cats are often instinctively frightened of water. There are a fewpotential reasons for this. One possibility could be that Fluffy isn’t a good swimmer. She can be over her head even in a foot of water, and can easily be swept away by even relatively gentle currents. Additionally, rivers and ponds can hide predators in the wild.

Wet fur may also be quite uncomfortable for our feline pals. Plus, it has a distinct scent, which may attract predators.

Why Is My Cat So Affectionate After A Bath?

Our feline pals are quite mysterious. There are many things we haven’t figured out about Fluffy yet! However, we do have some good guesses on this one. Cats have scent glands, which they use to mark their territory. When you wash Fluffy, you strip the oils from her skin. Your feline overlord may want to rub all over you to ensure that you are still properly anointed and thus ‘marked’ as hers.

Then again, your pet might also just be happy that the whole thing is over.

Do I Have To Take My Cat To The Groomer?

Kitties are pretty self-sufficient about their grooming needs. However, some cats can benefit from a trip to the salon. If your pet is quite old, just holding her may be enough to make her uncomfortable. Cats with thick or fluffy fur may also require extra attention in this area. Ask your Jefferson, IA area veterinarian for more information.

Should I Give My Kitty Flea Baths?

Always talk to your vet before giving your cat a flea bath. We would also advise against getting flea shampoo from a regular retailer. Unfortunately, some of these products have turned out to be toxic.

It’s also best to err on the side of caution if you are using another parasite control method. Adding a flea bath into the mix may expose your feline friend to unsafe amounts of chemicals. Ask your Jefferson, IA area  veterinarians for more information.

In Conclusion: Cats are normally very clean, but you are welcome to bathe your feline buddy if you wish. Just make sure that you do so safely.

Contact Carroll Small Animal Clinic, your Carroll, IA & Jefferson area veterinary clinic, anytime if you have questions about your cat’s health or care! We’re here to help!