It’s no secret that most domestic cats dislike getting wet for any reason. However, if a cat never takes a bath how in the world do they stay clean? This got me thinking about tabby cats in particular, and whether they really need baths or not.
So, do tabby cats really need baths? Baths are not required for most cats. Most cats keep clean through self-grooming. Shorthair tabby cats who shed excessively, are not well groomed or get too dirty will need occasional baths. Brushing cat fur, maintaining a clean litter box and sleeping areas will help keep your cat clean.
In general, most cats do not need to take baths, and that doesn’t just include tabby cats! Of course, there are times when a cat needs a bath, so it’s important to train your cat to be ready for those situations. We’ll talk about some strategies to help give your cat a bath as well as ways to help them stay clean.
Do Tabby Cats Like Water (Why Cats Hate Water)
Before trying to force your cat to take a bath, it’s important to understand why they hate water in the first place. Domestic cats may have evolved from their wild counterparts, but make no mistake, they are much different when it comes to water.
Unlike wild cats, domestic cats have a tough time getting dry once their coat is wet. Historically, domestic cats were not exposed to the same outdoor conditions and climates as they evolved. Because of this, their bodies developed in a way that does not work well with water.
Tabby cats, for instance, have short hair coats that absorb water rather than repel it. This means that once they get soaked, it takes hours for their hair to completely dry. Not only is that unpleasant for the cat, but the weight of the water is a bit scary for them.
Their fur feels much heavier with all of that water in there, and they can experience temperature drops too. It’s not uncommon to find a cat shivering for a while after a bath. The range of motion of the cat slows significantly with the weigh to the water too which bothers most cats. Longhair cats tend to suffer most from this, especially if they are double or triple coated.
Dogs, of course, are much different in that their fur coats are not as thick, and they do almost no self-grooming.
On top of this, water and non-pet shampoos can mess with the PH levels of the cat’s skin. For some cats it throws their senses off temporarily which makes them confused and agitated.
All cats don’t hate water though, and some domestic breeds are known for actively swimming in it. Also training a cat to get used to baths while their kittens is a good way to prepare them when they become adults.
How Often Should You Bathe Your Indoor Cat
There are many benefits to raising an indoor cat. Indoor cats don’t get as dirty as outdoor cats, but they still need occasional baths to stay clean and healthy. So, how often should you bathe your indoor cat? It’s recommended to bathe an indoor cat at least once per month. Some cats can go longer depending on the length of hair and their active lifestyle.
Washing a cat every 4 to 6 weeks allows you to get rid of potential flea problems and keep their coat looking good.
What Can I Wash My Cat With
There are many different solutions that you can wash your cat with. From pet shampoos to household items, it’s fairly easy to keep a cat clean. The PH level of the cat’s skin needs to be well maintained, so it’s important to not use any abrasive solutions.
Ideally, you do not want to wash a cat with any product that has a lot of chemicals mixed in. This includes scented soaps or shampoos with essential oils in them. For the most part, dog shampoos are simply not going to work for cats and actually might be harmful to them. Instead, a cat should be washes with specifically formulated shampoos.
The other reason you want to use chemical-free shampoos is that those ingredients might get absorbed in the cat’s skin. It’s important to remember that cats are self-groomers first, so whatever you wash them with can easily become ingested internally.
Here’s a list of everyday shampoos that can work well with cats
- Baby Shampoo (ones free of dyes and fragrances)
- Pure Castile Soap (olive oil based and chemical free)
- Dawn (has a PH level of 7 which is safe for cats in moderation)
When using any of the solutions above, make sure to wash the cat’s skin thoroughly. Some of the solutions on this list have natural oils in them which can leave the cat with an unpleasant coat.
To keep your cat happy and looking good, take the time to make sure all soap suds are rinsed out. While these solutions are safe for cats, you want to only use them in moderation. Be careful to use a small amount of these shampoos as they are not specifically formulated for cats.
Yes, you can wash your cat with Dawn dish soap. The important think to remember with dawn is that it’s specifically formulated to remove tough stains, oils, and residue from dishes. That being said, it can be a bit harsh on the cats skin and often times will dry their skin out.
There are some big benefits to using dawn dish soap for washing cats though. It does a tremendous job of getting rid of fleas, eliminating them almost immediately. If you notice your tabby cat itching, it might be helpful to apply some cat lotion for skin. ResQ and HomeoPet make excellent cat lotions to help moisturize the skin beneath the fur.
Some cat specific shampoos I recommend trying for your pet are listed below.
- Earthbath All Natural Cat Shampoo
- Oster Oatmeal Naturals
- Four Paws Magic Coat Cat Tearless Shampoo
When looking for a good cat shampoo, it’s important to get something your cat needs. For example, if you have a tabby cat with really erratic fur then it’s wise to get a two in one conditioner shampoo.
Most cat shampoos have all natural ingredients like oatmeal. The oatmeal is good for improving the overall texture of the cat’s coat as well as providing relief for dry skin. Tearless shampoos are great as well if your cat’s eyes get irritated easily.
How Do You Dry A Cat After A Bath
If you do decide to give your tabby cat a bath, chances are they’ll be a bit upset afterward. Drying your cat after a bath is not an exact science, however there is a right and wrong way to do it.
It’s important to remember that cats can actually air dry themselves. So, if your cat is upset and does not want to be touched, it’s important to leave them alone. Unfortunately the cat will shiver for a while as their body will get cold from the water. They will also move a bit slower due to the heaviness of the coat.
If your cat is cooperating, the easiest way to dry them is to wrap them in a towel. I find that microfiber towels work best when it comes to fast absorbing.
Another solution is to put the cat into a room and the fan on high. If you have an outdoor area, the cat can also be put outside to air dry in the sun.
Many cats are not fans of loud noises, but handheld hair dryers work really well. Place them on a low to medium temperature so that the cat is comfortable. You will notice as their coat dries they’ll start to move around a bit more quickly and shake out their legs and body.
Remember, taking a bath can be a scary experience, even for loving tabby cats. Always make sure they are 100% comfortable before embarking on this activity with them. Be ready to chase your cat around, especially during the dry off phase!
Keeping Your Cat Clean
Giving a cat an occasional bath is always a good idea. Of course, there are those times where cats can get into a huge mess and need to have a bath. There are a couple things you can do to keep your cat clean and reduce the number of emergency baths they will need.
The most important thing to do is to keep a clean litter box. Cats who have piled up litter boxes will not only smell bad but are more likely to have litter stuck on their in their coat. A litter rug is a good idea as it helps catch loose litter preventing it from getting into their paws.
The other thing you can do is keep your cat’s nails regularly cut. This will prevent them from getting gunk stuck in them. Also brushing your cats coat regularly can help get rid of knots and tangles which can latch onto dirt, and other messes.
My last bit of advice is to monitor the play space the cat has. Cats who have free reign of the home can get into just about anything. Make sure the cat does not have access to garbage, garden areas, tubs and sinks, and other areas where they might get dirty. Always pick up after your cat, and place items in the room to distract them.
By applying these tips, you can limit the amount of baths your cat will need.