While some cats may enjoy the feeling of being in water (usually specific breeds like Maine Coons), most cats create a bit of a scene when it's time to wash up. Here, our vets share some tips for washing your cat without getting scratched as well as information about how our pet bathing services in Rochester may help.

Does my cat require regular bathing?

A great thing about cats is that they are well-equipped for thoroughly cleaning themselves, and most cats do a great job of doing so. This means that you shouldn't need to bathe your cat very often.

Your cat's tongue is covered with tiny curved barbs that transfer saliva across their fur. This is like a miniature spa treatment since each lap spreads natural oils across their coat and skin, preserving the health of each. Those little spines work as natural detanglers, too, which is why you’ll often see your kitty licking and biting at fur clumps until she smooths everything out.  

That being said, routine bathing either at home or with our experienced groomers through our pet bathing services in Rochester, can help reduce the amount of hair that is lost and prevent hairballs. 

How often should I bathe my cat?

As mentioned above, you should not need to give your cat or kitten a bath very often, but in some cases, it may be necessary.

Some instances can be if they've gotten into something they shouldn’t ingest, such as motor oil, antifreeze, gasoline, or paint. Anything that gets on their fur that could be harmful needs to be washed off immediately. 

Some cats develop conditions that affect their skin which can be soothed through bathing such as seborrhea, a disorder that causes flakey, red, and itchy skin. Your vet may also recommend medicated baths for the treatment of other health conditions like severe fleas, allergies or ringworm. 

If your cat is a senior or overweight they may have a difficult time cleaning themself and regular bathing may be beneficial. Cats with long hair should be bathed every couple of months or so to minimize the matting of their fur. Hairless breeds, like the Sphynx, probably need about once a week bathing as the oils that they naturally produce can end up on furniture and fabrics.

Steps for Successful Cat Bathing

If you are planning on bathing your cat, you will want to have the items you'll need close by. Once you begin you will not have the opportunity to walk away.

To make bathing go as smoothly as possible, you should have:

  • Several towels to dry them off.
  • A shower or bath with a handheld showerhead.
  • Cat-specific shampoo and conditioner.

You should never use human shampoo or conditioner as it has a different PH level to the sort suitable for cats and could damage your pet’s hair or skin.

Be Prepared

Before you begin the bath, you should brush out your cat's fur. This is especially important if your cat has longer fur.

Set the water temperature to warm and have it running through the showerhead at a medium-level spray

Perform the Bathing

While talking to your cat and offering lots of reassurance and praise, gently place them into the shower tray or bath. Using a showerhead from above is significantly less stressful for your pet as they are far more likely to be used to being rained on than if they are being lowered into 4 inches of tepid water!

Hold your cat in place by the scruff of the neck, or use a harness if you think that you need extra stability. Begin gently washing them using soft confident strokes. Cats are very intuitive at picking up stress, so if you seem stressed they will be on edge too, and far more likely to lash out or try to make a run for it!

Use a small amount of shampoo. Gently run it all over into a lather. Make sure you rinse clean and then repeat with the conditioner. Take care to avoid the eyes and nose.

Dry Your Cat Off Well

Once your cat is clean, you should towel-dry them as much as possible. This is because many cats are quite scared of hair dryers. If your cat isn't, then consider using a hair dryer to dry them using low heat and speed.

Alternatively, you can lead your cat in your warm bathroom until their coat dries on its own. The most important thing is to ensure that your feline companion is dry before venturing into other parts of your home. Damp cats can easily become chilled which can make them unwell, or in the case of kittens, particularly low body temperatures can be life-threatening.

How to Bathe a Cat Who Hates Water

It's no secret that cats hate water. Some cats will tolerate baths, but others simply won't. When a bath is inevitable, staying calm will help you both.

Here are a few tips to help your cat relax and lower the risk of you being scratched in the process::

  • Use a washcloth around the face and ears.
  • Choose a time after she’s eaten or played, as she’ll be more mellow.
  • Plan for a short grooming session to make handling their fur much easier.
  • Recruit a friend to help so one of you can hold the cat while the other bathes them.
  • Fill a sink with a few inches of warm water and wash only the parts you need to, then rinse thoroughly.
  • If possible, trim your cat's nails before the bath, filing the ends as well after they're clipped to dull them.
  • Minimize running water, the sound causes many cats to panic, and the last thing you want is to grab a slippery cat with sharp claws.

Pet Bathing Services in Rochester

All pets that come to our clinic for bathing services receive a brief exam, Hydrosurge bath and full brush out to help them look and feel their best.

Hydrosurge bathing both deep cleans and massages your pet, helping to clear away loose fur. 

Learn more about our bathing services

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Bathing a cat isn't always the easiest to do. If you think that you may need help with this, please contact our vets at Ridgemont Animal Hospital today to learn more about our cat (and dog) bathing services in Rochester.