Cat’s don’t need baths. They groom themselves!
If I had a penny for every time I heard those words…
I have this conversation all the time with both current and potential clients: do cats really need baths? Can we just skip that part?
Sometimes the pet parent is just worried. They envision a violent and soapy fight ahead and just want to save their cat – and sometimes me – the stress. Other times, they’ve been told by someone – maybe even their vet – that cats don’t need to be bathed.
But much like anything else, you should probably only listen to the experts when it comes to this. And when it comes to grooming cats, I’m an expert.
The short answer is yes, cats need baths.
Cats need baths just like any other domestic creature. We take daily showers, and even our canine kids get regular grooming – bath included. Just like us, and just like our dogs, our cats get dirty and need to be cleaned!
Natural oils and dirt debris build up on the skin and hair. Litter and waste collect on the rear and paws. Wax builds up in the ears. And if left unchecked, tangles can form and grow into mats.
They get dirty, and they need to be cleaned.
Applying water and shampoo has the same effect on the cat’s skin and coat that it does to ours. It’s cleansing, making the skin and coat a healthier environment as well as making the cat more comfortable.
That is the biggest difference most cat owners report after getting their cat groomed – and bathed. The cat seems more relaxed, more comfortable, and because the skin and coat are clean and fluffy, the owners enjoy sharing affection more, making the cat happier overall.
But don’t cats hate water?
Everyone knows the adage that cats hate water. And any cat owner who has ever tried to wash a mess off of their pet knows how beastial their pet can get when it’s forced near the sink or tub.
But the reality is that cats are very nervous creatures. They’re cautious, and often take sudden, loud, and unknown things as a threat. They get scared. And sometimes they panic. This isn’t simply a matter of cats disliking water, it’s a case of cats not knowing that water is safe.
This problem is easily overcome with some patience and skill in the handler. While there are a few exceptions – just as there are with dogs – most cats tolerate a soap and water bath just fine when attentive hands guide them into the process.
But don’t cats groom themselves?
Don’t get me started! Licking is not bathing. Saliva is not shampoo. Cats need real baths with soap and water! And until cats learn to operate the sink and handle shampoo bottles, I’ll say it plainly: Cats do not groom. I do.