When Should You Give Your Cat A Bath?

Cats may be great at keeping themselves clean, but sometimes they need a little extra help from their humans.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Cats never need baths!” That may be true for some cats, but there are a few circumstances where bathing is absolutely necessary.

Here are a few times when you may need to give your cat a bath.

Fleas Or Ringworm

A young white kitten scratches herself.
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

If a cat has an infestation of fleas or ringworm, which is actually a fungus, your veterinarian may prescribe a medicated shampoo to take care of the problem.

It’s important to note that most modern flea treatments do not require bathing, but some do. Depending on how severe the infestation is, your vet may recommend bathing.

Your cat may hate it, but it’s better than living with pests that can cause further problems and spread disease.

Old Or Obese Cats

Fat Cat
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

If your cat is getting old and can’t quite reach their whole body the way they used to, you may need to take care of some of the bathing, especially around their bottom, which can get dirty quickly.

Arthritic cats in particular need help, and the warm water and massaging can actually relieve some of their pain.

If you’ve rescued an obese cat and are working to get them back into shape, then they may also need some help reaching around their body until they lose weight.

Outdoor Cats

little tabby cat in green gras
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

If your cat spends time outdoors, there are plenty of ways they can get dirty, especially if they get into something they’re not supposed to or if they have a run-in with a skunk.

Outdoor cats can pick up all kinds of smells and germs, so a bathing might be in order.

These should be given as needed and not be a regular event if your cat can usually go outside without coming back filthy.


Japanese man holding his pet Himalayan cat
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

There are plenty of ways to reduce shedding, or at least the amount of hair you’ll have to clean up, that don’t involve bathing. Usually a good brushing and grooming practices will keep shedding in check.

However, some cats may require an additional bathing from time to time if they shed. Your vet can advise you on whether bathing your shedding cat is appropriate and necessary.

Messy Accidents

Artistic mess with the cat-artist. Cat playing with colors on the table. The paint is poured, the cat smeared in paint. Cans of paint. Portrait of multi-colored cat
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Even for indoor cats, accidents happen.

Your cat can get into the garbage, brush up against wet paint, or knock over something that makes a big mess. No amount of licking can get rid of every problem, so you may need to take more drastic measures.

A bath may be needed if something is stuck in your cat’s fur and absolutely won’t come out without a good shampooing.

Hairless Breeds

Sphynxcat on a vintage chair
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Certain breeds of hairless cats absolutely require bathing, or else the oil from their skin can cause problems.

Sphynx cats need regular moisturizing and baths. Any Sphynx parent can tell you they’ve probably got a few greasy stains from their cat on furniture when they went too long without bathing.

Have you ever needed to give your cat a bath? Are there any other times when cats might need a little help staying clean? Let us know in the comments below!

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