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Do You Need to Give Your Cats a Bath?

Don’t go overboard with the shampoo bottle.

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You’re watching television and your feline friend hops up to join you. A few seconds later, you notice it. An odor. You sniff their coat, which might earn you a wayward glance, and you realize it’s time to give your cat a bath. Before you decide to break out the shampoo every week, take a moment to consider a few things.

Things to Consider

Many cats rarely, if ever, need baths, thanks to their own instinctive grooming skills. After all, they spend nearly half of their waking hours licking their coats. It serves a purpose; it’s not just for fun, or for your entertainment (even though they look adorable doing it).

However, some cats need a little help in the grooming department, for one reason or another. Here are things to consider when deciding if your cat needs a bath or not.

Is your cat mainly indoors or outdoors?

Outdoor cats may need a bath from time to time, especially if they get into something dirty or stinky. Some cats like to roll or rub on everything they see, which could spell disaster in the cleanliness department. (They can also bring home fleas and ticks, so beware! That’s a whole different problem.)

Indoor cats are less likely to get into these types of big messes. If they’re covered in something that you don’t want tracked all over the house, it might be time for a bath. This includes diarrhea (poor kitty).

How Long is Their Coat?

Longer coats may need more bathing because grime can stick to their fur. It might also help to take your long-haired cat to the groomer every few months for a trim if their hair grows out too fast or gets matted. Regular brushing can also be helpful in preventing knots—not to mention hairballs.

Special Needs Cats

Cats that can’t groom themselves need regular baths. This includes overweight cats, who may have difficulty reaching all areas of the body. Cats with certain health problems may simply stop grooming themselves and need your help.

Cats who need it should get a bath every four to six weeks to keep their coats from getting matted or pelted. Whatever you do, avoid over-bathing your cat. This can dry out and irritate their skin.

If you have questions about your cat’s grooming needs, ask your veterinarian for suggestions. They can tell you how often to give your cat a bath (if ever), and provide tips for making bathtime a little less stressful for both you and your cat.