Does my cat need a bath? I hope you aren’t still in the Dark Ages when it comes to the care and maintenance of your cat. If it has skin and hair it needs occasional to frequent bathing depending on quality of hair and general health.

Bathing is good for the mental and physical well-being of your cat. No, it won’t dry out the skin and coat unless you are bathing twice a week or more. Whether you are bathing to resolve current issues or bathing for prevention, proper introduction and regular routine will help to make the process enjoyable for everyone. And yes, even short-haired cats get mats and dandruff.

Here’s how to tell when your cat needs a bath.

#1. It is shedding.

Most animals have a bi-annual shed cycle if it lives outdoors. If you have an indoor or indoor/outddor cat, you will experience shedding all year round. This is because the hair growth cycle is triggered by hours of light.

Loose hair is bad news. The cat’s tongue barbs are designed so that once hair is collected while self-grooming it it can’t be spat out. It can only go one way –  down the gullet – and that means hairballs. Brushing definitely helps but a warm exfoliating bath followed by a blow dry makes a huge difference. Short-haired cats actually shed more than long-haired due to the more frequent life cycle of their hair.

If no outfit is complete without cat hair, or you think you need to buy hairball laxatives, what you really need is to get your properly cat groomed.


#2. It has dandruff.Dandruff/Dander is a subject for a whole other blog post. Either is unsightly, and unhygienic. Dead skin and dried salvia……mmmmmmm yummy. And it’s left everywhere your cat has been. Think about it. Pet wipes just smear it around and brushing seems to only break it into ever smaller particles.

Only a thorough bath regularly will help resolve this problem. And please, don’t use conditioner or a medicated shampoo. On a cat, this is NOT the answer (trust me) and it will only create a vicious cycle of flakes. More on this subject, another time.


#3. It is greasy.

If you can mohawk it, create parts and peaks, looks clumpy, feels like Brillo cream; it needs a bath. Cats are naturally oily for weatherproofing. As a matter of fact, they are oilier than dogs, plus they have finer hair to absorb all that grease. Being indoors does not turn off Mother Nature’s  grand design of waterproofing.

Ever seen an unwashed Sphynx cat? It gets yellow, lard-like deposits in the folds of it’s skin and black grease covering the nails. We only see it because it is a hairless cat. Your furry cats produce the same oils, it’s just absorbed into the hair.

Greasy hair attracts dirt. Dirty hair velcros to other hair stands, creating mats, (even on short-haired cats) resulting in greasy, dirty, smelly, matted, messy, and unhappy kitty.

Don’t neglect your cat just because you assume myths like “cats groom themselves” and “cats hate water” are true. How bad does it have to get before humane intervention is considered? A regular routine of bathing will keep your narcissistic feline clean, a pleasure to snuggle and caress, and mats, a thing of the past.

Final word: If your cat has mats, please seek professional help. If you attempt to bathe a matted cat at home it will only shrink the existing mats and make it much, much worse and tighter.

Other articles you may enjoy:

Why bathe and blow dry a cat?

Fat Cats Can’t Groom – by Janet Wormitt