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How to Bathe a Cat & How Often You Should Do It

How to Bathe a Cat & How Often You Should Do It

Many cats strongly dislike water and are notorious for their meticulous self-cleaning habits. However, there may come a time when your furry friend requires a proper bath. Our vets in La Pine have shared their insights on how to safely and effectively bathe your cat in this informative post.

Do cats need to be bathed?

Our feline friends are adept at keeping themselves clean. As their tongue is covered in tiny, curved barbs and saliva, they can spread healthy natural oils across their coat and skin.

This is comparable to a mini-spa treatment. The barbs also function as natural detanglers, making it common to see cats biting and licking clumps of fur. However, regular at-home bathing can decrease hair loss and prevent hairballs from forming.

How often should you bathe a cat?

If your kitten or cat has gotten into certain substances like gasoline, antifreeze, paint, motor oil, or anything harmful that can stick to their fur, they may need a bath immediately. Additionally, some cats may require baths to soothe skin conditions like seborrhea, which causes itchy, flaky, and red skin.

Medicated baths may also be necessary for treating severe flea allergies or ringworm. Obese or senior cats who can't groom themselves properly may benefit from regular baths, while long-haired cats should be bathed every few months to prevent matting. On the other hand, hairless breeds like the Sphynx may need weekly baths due to the oily residue they leave on fabrics in your home.

How do you bathe a cat?

When preparing to bathe a baby, you make sure to have all the necessary items within arm's reach. The same principle applies when bathing a cat. Here are a few things you should keep nearby:

  • Special cat shampoo and conditioner
  • A bath or shower with a handheld showerhead
  • Numerous towels to clean her off and help keep her dry

It's important to avoid using human shampoo or conditioner on your cat since it has a different pH level than what's suitable for felines. Doing so could cause damage to your pet's skin or hair.

Pre-Bath Prep

To prepare for bathing your cat, it's important to first brush her fur to eliminate any knots or tangles, especially if she's a long-haired breed. Then, adjust the showerhead to a medium-level spray and ensure that the water temperature is warm before turning it on.

The Bath

When giving your cat a bath, it's important to provide lots of reassurance and praise to keep her calm. Instead of filling the tub with water, use a showerhead to rinse her from above. This is less stressful for your pet, as she is likely more familiar with rain than being submerged in water.

To keep your cat in place, you can hold her by the scruff or use a harness if she tends to be difficult. Use soft, confident strokes to wash her gently. Cats can sense stress, so try to remain calm to keep your pet relaxed and prevent her from lashing out or running away.

Use a small amount of shampoo, as your cat may not be as dirty as you think. Be cautious to avoid getting shampoo in her eyes or nose. Rinse thoroughly and follow up with conditioner if desired.

Drying Off

Once she is clean, you should towel-dry your cat as much as possible. Some cats are petrified of hair dryers. If your feline friend isn't, then you could consider trying to dry her using a low heat and speed.

You may need to confine her to a carrier in order to do this. Alternatively, you could leave your cat in the warm bathroom until her coat is totally dry.

The important thing is to ensure that she is thoroughly dried before going into other parts of the house. Damp cats can easily become chilled, which can make them unwell, or in the case of kittens, particularly low body temperatures, can be life-threatening.

How to Bathe a Cat Without Getting Scratched

Owners often struggle with the task of bathing a cat that dislikes water, as is common among most cats. While some cats may be okay with baths, others may resist it. If a bath is necessary, it's important to stay calm to keep both you and your cat safe. Here are some helpful tips to reduce stress and prevent your cat from scratching or clawing their way out of the bath:

  • Choose a time after she's eaten or played, as she'll be more mellow
  • If possible, trim her nails before the bath, filing the ends as well after they're clipped to dull them
  • Plan for a short grooming session to make handling her fur much easier
  • Recruit a friend to help so one of you can hold the cat while the other bathes them
  • Minimize running water, the sound causes many cats to panic, and the last thing you want is to grab a slippery, sharp cat
  • Fill a sink with a few inches of warm water and wash only the parts you need to, then rinse thoroughly
  • Use a washcloth around the face and ears

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

It will sometimes be necessary to bathe your cat. For advice on how to make the process easier, contact our vets in La Pine today.

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We are accepting new patients to our La Pine vet clinic. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all pets in Central Oregon. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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