To form a conclusion if your cat may need a bath, ask yourself these questions:
Does your cat have sharp nails that scratch you or furniture?
Does your cat shed a lot?
Does your cat get litter stuck in their paws?
Is your cat very oily?
Has your cat stopped licking itself?
Does your cat have problems with hairballs?
Does your cat get tangles, mats or have a pelted coat?
Does your cat have dry, flaky skin or dandruff?
Does your cat smell?
Do you or someone in your house suffer from cat allergies?
These are all common problems that preventative maintenance grooming, including a bath, can eliminate when done on a regular schedule. We often think that cats groom themselves. However, cats lick themselves. They ingest their loose hairs which can cause health problems related to hairballs. Cats also produce oils on their skin. With long haired cats, these oils build up in their coat causing tangles especially behind the ears, base of tail, as well as under the arms and legs. To truly clean a cat, you must remove dead skin, hair, spit, urine, fleas and stuck on feces. This can be accomplished during a groom with nice warm water and cat specific shampoo, followed up with a refreshing blow dry. A clean cat is a happy cat.
Did you know that people with cat allergies are not actually allergic to cat fur? Feline allergies are caused by FEL D1 which is a protein produced largely in cat saliva and by their sebaceous glands. Once a cat licks their coat, the allergen-laden saliva dries and becomes airborne, increasing likelihood for a reaction. If the cat is groomed on a regular schedule it controls the problem by keeping FEL D1 to a minimum.
CAT BATH MYTHS
Cats don’t need baths because they groom themselves. False. Cats lick themselves as mentioned above. Cats may try to keep themselves clean and rid themselves of shedding coat but they need a bath with cat specific soap to effectively remove their hair, dead skin and saliva. Don’t you love when your purring puff ball lays on your pillow or lap? Keep in mind of how they ate that tuna treat early and then “groomed” themselves by spreading their tuna spit and oils all over their body. You wouldn’t want a dog that just ate stinky fish to cover itself with saliva and lay on you. Cat baths actually get your cat clean and cuddle fresh.
Cats will DIE if they are bathed. False. Baths do not cause cat deaths. This is a myth that is perpetuated by a few stories of cats dying after baths. These cases are not caused by the bath but likely by the stress the bather puts on the cat. It is of the utmost importance to identify a cat in stress since it can be fatal. Baths conducted by a grooming professional are the safest way to groom your cat.
My cat will kill you if you try to put water on it. False. Most cats tolerate a warm bath quite well. Sometimes home baths are attempted in a shocking manner to cats which cause them to be fearful and attempt to escape by any means. Cats also do not tolerate water poured directly on their heads, which can commonly occur in a home setting with an untrained cat bather. Cat groomers are taught to understand feline cues and keep a cat as calm and controlled as possible so they do not endanger their bather.
If you and your cat are dealing with one or more of these issues, it might be time to consider giving your cat a bath or contacting a professional cat groomer. Cats tend to feel better, be more energetic and are much more comfortable after a good bath or grooming. A clean cat is truly a happy cat.