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Bathing Your Cat: Cat Care Tips From A Roanoke, VA Veterinarian 

February 15, 2024

One benefit of having a cat for a pet is the fact that kitties are naturally very clean. While Fido may love rolling in mud puddles, and often would prefer to skip baths altogether, kitties are quite fastidious. Your furry friend may spend as much as a third of her waking time cleaning herself. For more comprehensive care tips, including how to handle your cat’s grooming beyond just bathing, read “Tips for Taking Care of Your Cat.” There are a few things to keep in mind here, however. Read on as a local Roanoke, VA vet offers some advice on giving your kitty a bath.

Am I Supposed To Bathe My Cat?

You don’t have to bathe your cat, though you can if you want to. You may also need to bathe your feline pal if she gets something spilled on her fur. There are a few caveats here, though. Check with your vet before bathing Fluffy. This goes double if your pet is a senior or a very young kitten, or if she has medical issues.

It’s also not safe to bathe a cat that is recovering from surgery, at least until your Roanoke, VA veterinarians give you the thumbs up.

How Often Should You Wash Your Indoor Cat?

Indoor cats should be able to stay pretty clean without baths. However, if you are bathing Fluffy, you should only do so every 4 to 6 weeks. Otherwise, you could inadvertently end up over-bathing her. This could strip the oils from her skin and coat, which may do more harm than good. Your pet may end up looking dry or even a bit frizzy. This can also lead to skin irritation. Ask your Roanoke, VA veterinarian for more information.  

Do Cats Like Being Bathed?

If we were able to poll our feline patients on this one, the answer would probably be a hard ‘No’ from most of them. However, there are a few kitties that didn’t get this memo. The Bengal and Turkish Angora are two examples of this: both breeds enjoy water, and even like swimming.

Are Cats Happier After A Bath?

If Fluffy is getting bathed because you accidentally dropped a bowl of barbeque sauce on her, or because she had a run-in with a skunk, then she’ll probably be much more comfortable after. A kitty that is infested with fleas will also feel relief after, but that falls more under general medical care than beauty regimes. In general, cats do not enjoy baths. (Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. Many kitties absolutely loathe being bathed.)

What Is The Best Way To Give A Cat A Bath?

Bathing your cat isn’t exactly rocket science, but there are a few do’s and don’ts. Here are the most important parts:

Start by brushing your cat, to remove any dead fur or dander from her coat. You can do this the day before, if you like.

Next, get everything ready. You don’t have to wear full-body armor, but we would recommend thick jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. You’ll want to have a few towels on hand. It’s also not a bad idea to put a mat down in the tub or sink, to protect it from getting scratched.

Fill the tub or sink with a few inches of lukewarm water. Make sure it isn’t too hot! Our feline pals have very sensitive skin. Water that seems pleasantly hot to us could burn your kitty. The water also shouldn’t be any deeper than your kitty’s chest.

At this point, your pet may decide to express her opinions about the matter. Talk to her gently, and pet her to help keep her calm.  

Lather your feline friend up gently. Only use shampoos that were specifically made for kitties. Products made for dogs or humans are too strong for cats! Don’t get suds on her head: you should be able to clean her face and ears with a washcloth.

Rinse your pet gently. You can use a teapot or a sprayer. Just don’t turn the pressure or heat up.

Repeat, but with a smaller amount of shampoo.

How Do I Dry My Cat After A Bath?

As soon as you’ve finished bathing Fluffy, wrap her in a towel. You don’t want to rub vigorously, but press the towel gently into her fur. This should help it absorb some of the water from her coat. If your pet has had enough at this point, just let her go. If she doesn’t mind, you can blow dry her. Use a low heat and a gentle setting.

Once you’ve finished, your kitty will promptly retreat to one of her favorite warm, comfy spots and start grooming herself to get her fur back in place. She may also occasionally glower at you to express her indignation at being subjected to (gasp) being bathed. A new toy, a yummy treat, or perhaps some catnip should get that motor going again.

When Is A Good Time To Bathe My Cat?

As far as time of day goes, it’s really just what works for your schedule. We would suggest waiting until it’s fairly warm out. You don’t want Fluffy to get chilly as she is drying off!

Why Does My Cat Cry When I Give Him A Bath?

Kitties are often instinctively frightened of water. There are a few possible reasons for this. One option may be that Fluffy isn’t a good swimmer. She can be over her head in just a foot of water, and can easily get swept away even by gentle currents. Being wet is also quite uncomfortable for our feline pals. Finally, this may just seem unsafe to your pet. In the wild, rivers and ponds could hide predators. Plus, wet cat fur gives off a distinct scent, which may attract predators.

Why Are Cats So Cuddly After A Bath?

There are still a lot of things we haven’t figured out about our feline overlords. We do have a few good guesses here, though. When you wash Fluffy, you strip the oils from her skin. Cats have scent glands, which they use to ‘mark’ their territories. Your pet may want to rub all over you to make sure that you are properly anointed, and therefore ‘claimed’ as hers. Your furry little diva may also just be happy that the whole ordeal is over with.

Should I Take My Cat To A Groomer?

Some kitties definitely can benefit from going to the salon. If your pet is quite old, simply being held may be uncomfortable for her. Cats that have very thick or Fluffy fur may also need some extra help in this area. Ask your vet for more information.

How Often Can I Give My Cat Flea Baths?

Talk to your vet before using a flea shampoo, especially one that was purchased through a regular retailer. Unfortunately, some of these products have proven to be unsafe. Also, if you are using another form of parasite control, doubling up by adding a bath may expose your feline friend to dangerous amounts of chemicals. It’s best to err on the side of caution.

In conclusion: While cats are normally very clean, you can bathe your feline pal if you like to. Just be sure that you are doing so safely.

Do you have questions about your cat’s health or care? Contact us here at, your local Roanoke, VA animal clinic, anytime for a wide range of veterinary services. We’re here to help ensure your pet’s health and well-being.

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