Good reasons for giving cats baths
Q: Is there really any need ever to bathe a cat? Seems they take care of themselves pretty well. — via Facebook
A: Actually, there are some good reasons to bathe cats, and they’re arguably strong enough to make it worth the effort to teach cats to tolerate baths while they’re still easier-to-handle kittens.
Among the reasons why it’s worth it: You may sometimes need to wash off something your cat got into, which you don’t want him to ingest when he licks his coat. If this happens and your cat absolutely will not handle being bathed, talk to your veterinary hospital about having them handle it. Many groomers will also handle cats, and that’s certainly an option for the routine grooming of long-haired cats (who may need to be shaved clear of mats), as well as for those cats who need to have sticky or dangerous material removed from their coats.
There’s also a benefit to you in bathing your cat: It reduces shedding and allergies. Studies have shown that getting cats wet can reduce the sneezing, wheezing and itchy eyes associated with allergies to cats. It may even make life with a cat possible for people who are mildly or even moderately allergic to them. You don’t have to bother with soap for allergies, though: Just rinsing a cat weekly reduces the dander that triggers allergy attacks.
While it’s decidedly more difficult to teach an adult cat to tolerate bathing than to start a kitten with baths from the start, it can be done with most of them if you introduce the concept a little bit at a time, with lots of treats and praise. One note of caution: Use a shampoo that’s labeled for cats, not dogs. If you use a dog shampoo that contains ingredients for combating fleas, you may put your cat’s health at risk. This is true even of natural ingredients meant to repel fleas. In general, you should consult your vet before using any dog product on your cat. — Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to
email@example.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.