Pet Care Corner: Do Cats Need A Bath?

A monthly column presented by local experts in pet care.

by Kim Burress


Cats have skin and hair which need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Cats are no different than a dog or person in that way. Not bathing cats equals more grease, filth, hairballs, mats, and unsanitary conditions. For too long people have been under the impression that cats ‘groom’ themselves. In reality, cats do not groom themselves, but actually ‘lick’ themselves. When a cat licks itself, it ingests large amounts of loose, shedding hair, while at the same time creating dander on its coat.


The ingested hair results in hair balls which are both a nuisance and a potential health risk. Dander is made up of minuscule particles of dead skin cells and dried saliva which contains the actual protein that causes allergic reactions in humans. It makes sense that bathing a cat on a regularly basis would cut down on that dander.


A cat’s shedding is a natural occurrence. The oil in the cat’s skin combined with the shedding hair causes the hair to stick together, rather than falling off. The combination of oil and hair work together to create tangles, dreadlocks and mats which eventually evolve into pelts if not tended to in a timely manner. A de-greasing shampoo, bath and blowing out the loose, shedding hair will help eliminate these problems. Tangles can grow into mats if not removed. Mats left alone will turn into a pelted mess. These mats and pelts are very painful to the cat and can cause health issues.


Regular bathing and blow-drying will prevent these problems. If a good de-greasing bath is done on a regular basis (four-six weeks for most cats) and the coat is thoroughly blown out with a high velocity dryer, matting becomes a thing of the past. It’s important to also comb out the coat thoroughly once it is dry to remove any loose hair that is still hanging around. Without a bath and blow-dry, grease and dead coat would build up and mats will form. Simply combing or brushing the cat’s coat out every few weeks does nothing to remove the mat-causing factors (grease and loose hair). In addition, only combing or brushing a greasy coat moves the grease all over, creating an even bigger problem in time.


Cats like to look and feel good. If your cat has never been groomed, consider the benefits of a professional groom.


A Few More Tips:

Longhaired cats require everyday brushing to keep their coats healthy and grooming to keep hair out of their eyes.

NEVER attempt to cut off hair mats with a scissors; you may cut the skin as well.

The physical action of being washed is pleasant to most pets and it may make you aware of a lump or bump that may have appeared or changed suddenly.

It will also make you aware of fleas , ticks or ear mites.


Kim Burress of Calling All Cats

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker