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How to Give Your Cat a Bath


Why Would Your Cat Need a Bath?

For most cats, a bath will never be necessary. Cats do such an amazing job of grooming their coats and keeping themselves very clean. There may a situation however, where you have to bathe your cat. If you allow your cat outdoors you may find she had an unfortunate close encounter with a skunk. A cat with a severe flea infestation may also need a bath to provide some immediate relief before you use a topical flea prevention product. If your cat has a flea allergy, your veterinarian may recommend a special shampoo to help relieve the itch and skin irritation.

A bath may also be necessary if your cat has gotten something on her fur, either sticky, irritating or toxic. Keep in mind, anything that gets on the cat’s fur will also be ingested when grooming so if she has gotten into something it’s important to get it removed immediately. If it’s an irritant or toxic, call your veterinarian right away.

Cats who are obese or less mobile (maybe due to arthritis) may not be as efficient at self-grooming or may be totally unable to reach important body part so they  might need the occasional bath.

Another common reason for bathing would be if your cat develops ringworm. If that’s the case, your veterinarian will prescribe a specific shampoo to use and instructions on how often to bathe.


Some cat breeds also benefit from baths as well. Sphynx cats tend to develop oily skin and need more frequent bathing. Some longhaired breeds also need the occasional bath as well.

Although most cats don’t ever need to experience a bath, if you find yourself in a situation where a wipe-down with a damp washcloth isn’t sufficient, then it’s important to be prepared and have a game plan.

Prepare Your Cat in Advance Before Attempting a Bath

First, if you’re concerned or afraid that your cat will completely freak out and you won’t be able to handle it, or if you know from previous experience that the bath will result in injury to yourself, then talk to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian and staff are trained and well-equipped to bathe cats who don’t want to be bathed.  You can also choose to take your cat to a groomer but make sure you get a recommendation for a groomer who uses gentle and humane handling techniques. There are many groomers who are used to handling cats and their environment may prove to be less stressful than the veterinary clinic. Visit the groomer beforehand and make sure you’re comfortable with the surroundings, cleanliness and handling techniques.

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