Do cats need baths? You’ll be surprised with the answer

I was with my five year old son the other day and he asked me this question out of nowhere: “Do cats need baths?”

Being the cat lover, I readily had an answer. I guess he was pretty satisfied with my explanation.

But what if you’re just new to taking care of cats? What would your answer be? Should you really give your cat a bath?

My answer is Yes, Cat need baths.

Why Cats Don’t need to be Bathed

I will admit that when I was younger, I really thought that cats were just like dogs that needed to be bathed. I eventually found out that unlike the canines, our feline friends don’t need baths most of the time.

Cats are one of the cleanest animals on the planet. They are role models of personal hygiene. They moisten their forepaws with saliva and use it to clean themselves.

In fact, half of their waking hours are spent on grooming themselves. That’s how much of a stickler they are when it comes to grooming.

Thus, giving her a bath isn’t really needed except for certain situations which I will discuss a bit later.

Cats not only groom themselves because they want to be clean. Grooming has many benefits to our feline friends. These include:

  • Self-defense. Believe it or not, cats groom themselves so that they won’t be detected by their enemies. Getting rid of food and odor causing ingredients can help them be on ‘stealth’ mode, so to speak.
  • Fur maintenance. By licking themselves, cat can distribute their natural oils to their coats evenly.
  • Cooling down. Cats use their saliva to maintain normal body temperature.
  • Relaxation. Cats can cope with stress by keeping themselves clean.
  • Blood flow stimulation. Just like how brushing the hair can promote blood circulation on our scalp, cats licking their body can improve circulation. The tongue of cats has tiny, bristle-like hairs that can do the trick.

Aside from the fact that cats have the unique ability to groom themselves, there are other reasons why you should think twice about giving them a bath such as:

  • Cats generally aren’t fond of water. Submerging them in water can cause their fur to become saturated with water. In turn, this can weigh down your cat and make her very uncomfortable.
  • Most cats are also very sensitive to odors. It is also possible that the scent of chemicals from tap water may upset her. The same goes for the chemicals found in shampoo.

There are a few cat breeds, though, that are known to like water like the Turkish Van and the Bengal.

When to Bathe a Cat

But while bathing a cat is generally discouraged, it doesn’t mean that you should never bathe your cat. There are some cases wherein you have no choice but to bathe her, even if she doesn’t like it.

For example, your cat was away from home for a few days. When she got back, you noticed that her coat has turned black. You assume that this was caused by exposure to automotive oil.

This is a very dangerous scenario because automotive oil exposure can be very fatal to cats.

Senior cats may also be assisted from time to time. Aging cats with arthritis usually have lost their interest in grooming, so you may have to bathe them from time to time. Even overweight cats may have difficulty in cleaning themselves.

How to bathe a cat

Now what would you do if your cats need a bath? Here are some of the pointers that you should remember:

  • Seek the help of another adult. You will need another pair of hands to keep a hold on the cat, who likely won’t enjoy being bathed. In fact, there’s a very good chance that she will immediately try to get out when you put her in the tub. This is why I suggest that you enlist the help of another person.
  • Fill a large tub with around 5 to 6 inches water. The water should be lukewarm. Cats don’t like too hot or too cold water.
  • Carefully wet your pet. Apply shampoo and rinse thoroughly. Don’t let the shampoo get into her eyes. I suggest you wipe down her face with a wash cloth.
  • Remove her from the bath and then wrap her in a towel.
  • Dry her in a warm room. You can try a hair dryer too if she allows it. Just don’t get the heat too close to her.

If your cat is afraid of water, I recommends trying dry bath products.


Bathing is something you won’t normally do to a cat. Most of the time, your feline friend can take care of herself when it comes to grooming.

But there will be times when you need to bathe her, like when she gets too old or too fat that grooming becomes less of a priority. Or when she figures in an accident and her coat gets exposed to oil.

Did you learn something from this article? If you do, why you won’t share this article on your social media accounts? I’m certain your other friends will appreciate your effort.

4 thoughts on “Do cats need baths? You’ll be surprised with the answer”

  1. Upgrade Your Cat

    I’ve had to bathe my cat 2 times before. Once when she came home with some kind of oily substance on her, and once when she decided to run/fall/roll in some paint.
    Both occasions were pretty traumatizing for both of us, but I couldn’t leave her to groom the stuff off as it would have been dangerous.
    It pretty much went how you describe the steps. Some cats are certainly more inclined to allow you giving them a bath, however, my kitty was not!

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  4. Hi all,

    Good info on this site and replies from other people who have experience with bathing., My cat just turned 13 and loves taking a bath. Water doesn’t seem to bother her at all. I even clip her claws and brush her. We have been friends since she was 3 months old. 🙂

    Now she is in her elder years and have changed a lot. Recently, I moved and was staying in hotel rooms until I found a new home which probably stressed her out. I’m finally in my apartment home but she has been acting different. Tigi jumps on the kitchen counters, stove, sinks, and continues to do it even when I catch her. She has lost a lot of weight to the point I feel her bones. She has an over active thyroid that needs to be taken care of so I’m assuming it got worse.

    Does anyone have any things I can do to keep her from jumping on counters or furniture? Not only has my life changed with moving out after the divorce, Tigi is not living and getting spoiled as much until I can get solid again.


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