Cats are very clean animals and usually groom themselves regularly. However, you might be asking yourself if this self-cleaning is sufficient.

Cats spend their days doing four main activities: eating, sleeping, grooming, and playing from time to time! Grooming occupies a good part of their time. However, licking themselves is not always enough. For this reason, at times, we have to help our cats and complete their grooming for them. But how do we do this?

Is it really necessary to wash my cat?

Yes, you have to wash your cat. However, when we say "wash your cat", we must forget about bathing, shampooing, etc. Bathing must remain occasional because it puts cats through a lot of stress and can cause them to become aggressive. Moreover, shampoos or soaps are not all adapted to the type of skin they have, which is rather fragile.

The best way to clean your cat if he or she is dirty is to use a damp cloth or to brush him or her.

When should I give my cat a bath?

Of course, bathing can be a good solution to wash a cat. With that in mind, it must remain exceptional, when certain situations impose it.

When your cat is very dirty: If your cat can groom him or herself, then bathing is not necessary. However, if there is too much dirt and your cat cannot remove it all, you can intervene. Before using shampoo, try washing your cat with clean water, this may be sufficient.

If your cat smells bad: it is possible, depending on what your cat has done that he or she gives off a rather strong odor. Several reasons can be the cause of this. For example, excrement or urine can make their coat very stinky. In this case, a bath with an adapted shampoo is best. That's right! Not just any shampoo! There are some specially designed shampoos for cats that you can find in pharmacies or at the vet clinic.

When your cat is not grooming anymore: Several situations can prevent your cat from grooming, such as age, an illness, or an injury. In these cases, you must help him or her. Of course, bathing should be done gently, especially if your cat is ill.

Finally, if your cat has parasites, you can give him or her a bath. If your little ball of fur has only a few parasites, the bath can be avoided. There are some treatments (drops or sprays) to get rid of them. In cases where parasites are abundant, bathing is necessary. There are anti-parasite shampoos that you can find at pharmacies or at the veterinarian.

How do I prepare the bath?

In order to limit the risks that can occur during a bath and the stress, there are some tips to respect. First of all, at the bottom of the bathtub, you can place a rubber mat so that your cat does not slip in the bathtub or in the shower.

Next, the water should be lukewarm. If it is too hot or too cold, your cat will not be comfortable and the risks of irritation will be bigger.

Regarding the height of the water, it should not exceed 10 cm for an adult cat. This may not seem like much, but let's not forget that cats are naturally afraid of water.

How to wash your little feline?

Patience is key. Do not hesitate to try to talk to him or her. Above all, do not scold them if they panic because of the water? You could traumatize your cat.

Using the shower is not recommended. Instead, you can use a small container such as a glass to wet your cat. Try not to get water on your cat's head. To wash it, you should use a small towel or a washcloth. For the shampoo, pour it into your hands and then gently clean your cat. Then, rinse him or her, still with the container and gently. Then, dry your cat with a small dry towel.

How often should I wash my cat?

There is no particular number of times that you should wash your cat. You should only wash your cat when it is necessary.

If your cat has long hair, it can be useful to get him or her used to being bathed, both in the bath and with a towel, from a young age. Indeed, long-haired cats tend to get dirty more quickly and therefore take baths more often than others. It is, therefore, useful to get your cat used to the water, without forcing him or her of course.


Brushing is a good alternative to bathing. Regular brushing allows you to clean the hair well, so that the dirt does not accumulate. If you do decide to wash your cat, don't forget to brush him or her right afterward so that the hair doesn't get matted.

Those are our tips for washing your cat! It is important to remember that cats wash themselves regularly, and normally, do not need to be bathed.

You might also like: Can I bathe my cat? or Cats and water: it's not necessarily what you would expect.

Originally written by Salomée Vidal. Translated by Jennifer Eubank.


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