Surviving a Cat Bath: Is It Necessary?


by April A. Northstrom

Giving your cat a bath sounds like a terrible idea. Is it necessary? Why? Who would do such a thing? Will you and your cat survive? The truth is that yes, indeed, it is possible to give your feline a soak and survive to tell about it. And it’s good for them. Not every cat will allow you to bathe them, so don’t expect miracles with your fuzzy feline if it’s just not her thing. If it looks like a cage match is brewing, make an appointment with a professional groomer and keep everyone happy. A bath at home can be stressful for cats, and sometimes it’s not worth it to even try. However, there are times when a good cat bath can go a long way for the kitties that will tolerate one.


The ASPCA notes that “a clean cat is a happy cat.” Agreed. Cats know this and constantly use their “built in” grooming tools (aka tongue and teeth) to look and feel their best.

Outdoor cats can most benefit from a quality wash and dry. Dirt, debris and fleas are more common with cats who spend the majority of time out of doors. Frequency will depend on the type of cat, activity level and health issues. It is important to note that excessive bathing and grooming will lead to dry skin and a dull coat.

A few reasons to consider a cat bath:

1) Adoption: you brought the new kitty home with some unpleasant odors and smells. Avoid bringing any germs or unwanted dirt into your home or around other cats or children. Bath time! It’s also a good bonding experience and a way to start things off with a fresh set of paws.

2) Outdoor Exploring: Not sure what fluffy rolled in or around or even where, but the smell is unbearable? Time to try the bath.

3) Injury: This is a tricky one, but if you are concerned about an injury, but cannot see the location of the pain or you need a clean area to examine, it’s time for a bath. Always consult your vet if you are concerned about internal injuries or bleeding that won’t stop.


PetMD recommends 5 Steps to Successful Cat Baths, but a good bath regime should be done with total willingness from your cat. Don’t force the experience on reluctant kitties. Start by getting their feet wet and then move on to a more thorough bathing. Nail trimming, ear cleaning and dematting – if necessary – are usually best left to the professionals and will depend on your cat’s needs. Your veterinarian can recommend a specific bathing regime or local groomer who specializes in felines.

Brushing is an important part of the grooming and bathing process. It removes dirt and debris, grease and even dead hair from the cat’s coat. Shedding is normal, but regular grooming can keep piles of hair and matting problems under control. Brushing once or twice a week keeps hair under control and stimulates blood circulation for good health. It is also a helpful way to condition your cat to enjoying a grooming session or full bath in the future.

Ear Care: Make sure your cat’s ears stay clean and free of wax, debris and infection. A weekly ear check at home can help avoid trips to the vet down the road. A liquid ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian will keep the inside flaps clear of earwax and dirt.

There is no doubt it takes a brave cat lover – and a willing cat – to make a bath successful, but it’s not impossible and can definitely keep Fluffy happy and healthy. Do your research, watch a few YouTube videos, talk to your veterinarian and be prepared for a new experience. You both might be surprised about how much you enjoy the time to bond and play while getting her fuzzy mittens clean!