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How Often Should You Wash Your Indoor Cat? (Best Answer)

How Often Should You Wash Your Indoor Cat? (Best Answer)

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When it comes to cat baths, every cat owner knows how tricky it can be to get the job done, let alone do it successfully and safely.

Bathing cats can be tricky since they don’t usually like water, so getting one into the bath can be a pretty chaotic experience.

Let’s find out how often should you wash your indoor cat and how to get the job done with as little stress as possible.

First of all, let’s have a look at the world of cat bathing.

Feline Self-Grooming Behavior

Cats are great groomers; they spend most of their time grooming themselves. This is their way of cleaning their fur, removing parasites, and detangling hairs.

Grooming also redistributes the oils produced by the cat’s skin, which help to keep the fur somewhat waterproof.

The reason why you don’t need to bathe your cats very often is that they do a really good job of cleaning themselves.

This is crucial for wild cats since keeping their own scent helps them stay alive.

What makes cats such good groomers?

Well, it’s because of their tongues! Ever been licked by a cat and wondered why its tongue is so rough?

Cat’s tongues have tiny curved spines on them, which are called papillae.

These are little hooks that are distributed along the cat’s tongue, so it’s like a little brush.

Not only do cats get rid of excess dirt on their fur, but they also use their spiky tongues as tangle-reducing tools; their tongue washes and brushes their hair all at once.

Factors Affecting How Often Should You Wash Your Indoor Cat

There are some external and internal factors that affect the frequency of cat bathing.

There are so many different cat breeds and every breed is different. Each cat is also unique and will have its own grooming requirements and delicate way of being handled.

How often should you wash your indoor cat depends on:

– The type of cat’s coat and coat length:

Cats with longer coats will require more regular brushing than short-haired cats.

– Self-grooming tendencies: whether your cat can’t or won’t groom themselves.

Some cats are keen to groom, while others may be a little lazy. It will depend on the pet owner to give them regular baths to prevent the coat from becoming dirty.

– Cat weight

Because overweight cats may have trouble reaching all areas of their bodies, they will require more bath time.

Their hind quarters tend to develop lumpy and matted fur, and the cat’s skin can start to dander, itch or even get infected.

– Daily activities

If your cat often has the zoomies throughout the day, it may need more bathing than a cat who prefers to lounge around.

– Whether you have an outdoor or indoor cat

Outdoor cats tend to spend more time in nature and due to their environment, they may get dirtier as being exposed to ticks, various parasites, and flea infestation.

Is Frequent Bathing A Good Idea?

washed cat in owner's hands

As a cat owner, building trust with your feline friend is one of the most important aspects of your relationship.

However, some cat owners insist on bathing their cat every week, which is not a good idea.

If you end up bathing your cat once a week, they are going to get to the point where every time you pick them up they’ll think something bad is going to happen.

And believe me, nobody wants that!

Frequent bathing will be stressful for the cat and could even lead to some health issues due to the washing away of their natural oils.

The National Cat Groomers Institute of America recommends that your cat only goes through this (not so pleasant) process every four to six weeks.

Situational Cat Baths

There will always be certain situations where you’ll have to bathe your cat.

There are situations where cat bathing is necessary; hairless cats, flea infestation, old cats, outdoor adventures, litter box accidents etc. all require a good wash.

Hairless Breeds

Hairless cats such as Sphynx are an exception to this rule. They acquire an oily coating on their skin and this means they require regular baths once a week.

Sphynx cats cannot regulate their natural oils because they do not have hair. These oils can get very messy and they can clog pores, so the cat will need to be washed every week.

Flea Infestation

If you’ve ever adopted a stray cat, you probably noticed they were completely covered in dirt and fleas.

Due to their surroundings, stray cats and rescue kittens pick up all kinds of nasty stuff that need to be removed from their fur.

Clearly, at that point, you have to properly bathe it with flea shampoo to remove all of the unwanted guests so you can get off to a clean start.

It isn’t just rescued cats that get fleas. Any outdoor cat or cat that socializes with other cats may develop an infestation of fleas.

Older Cats

Adult cats, but more so older cats who can no longer turn around with ease or lift their legs and clean themselves as they used to, will require your help.

For example, cats with arthritis have trouble moving their hinds and forelimbs. So they will need an extra hand getting groomed.

Some cats will even get lazy and stop taking care of themselves. This is where you step in.

Outdoor Adventures

A bath should only be given when it’s really necessary. When your cat goes outside it will probably end up going through mud, grass, or dirt.

All of this will accumulate in its coat. The next thing you know, it will have spread all over your house. You might also notice that your cat is irritated and itchy.

This is an important time to bathe your feline friend.

Litter Box Accidents

As a pet owner, it is your job to maintain your cat’s litter box; keeping it from overfilling and routinely cleaning it.

There is one thing you should be aware of. Not keeping up with this routine could make your cat refuse to use the litter box.

When it comes to bathing your cat, sometimes poop can get stuck in your cat’s fur without it even noticing and that’s where you’ll need to step in to do the job.

Proactive Cleaning Vs. Frequent Bathing?

Proactive cleaning involves cleaning certain parts of your cat daily.

The pros of proactive cleaning are that it is easier than bathing and cats are more cooperative with it.

It will take a lot less time and it is equally good for your cat’s well-being.

Frequent bathing can cause skin conditions or skin problems such as skin irritation, dry skin, discomfort, or a dull coat. All of these can harm the cat’s health.

It’s important to undertake regular routine maintenance. You want to clean the inside of your cat’s ears on a fairly regular basis and, when needed, trim your cat’s nails.

Short-haired cats don’t require regular brushing but it won’t hurt to give them a brief brushing session to remove the loose hairs from time to time and keep their coat sleek.

A long-haired cat should be brushed on a regular basis, and that means every day. One of the most painful things your cat can deal with is fur that tangles and forms mats.

The best way to avoid these issues is to get your cat used to being groomed by you.

You can make grooming a positive thing by ensuring your cat connects grooming with the treats or toys you give to them afterwards.

You should groom your cat in a place where they feel comfortable yet contained.

Your lap, for example, minimizes the risk of your cat being scared and supports the build-up of trust while getting the job done.

All these things are much easier if you have someone to help you, so having an extra pair of hands might come in handy.

How To Bathe Your Indoor Cat The Right Way

The thing about cats is they pick up on our stress levels, if you are not stressed it will make a huge impact (and vice versa). The same goes for when the cat is stressed.

You should avoid giving your cat a bath when they’re at their most active. If they are hyper, they’re just going to make it difficult for you, and it will not be pleasant for them either.

Bathing a cat can be a disastrous experience. It can be traumatic for both the owner and the cat. However, when it’s done properly, it can be fun.

Let’s look at a few easy steps you can take to make life easier next time you decide to take your cat for a bath.

Step 1 – Preparations

You need to get prepared before you start.

Filling up your tub or sink before putting your cat in will reduce the stress she may experience from the sound of running water. These sounds can make your cat alarmed before you even start doing anything.

Usually, you’d want lukewarm water in the tub or sink, and filled up to a proper level.

When cleaning your cat you want to have everything at your disposal so you don’t leave them unattended for too long.

Having warm water, washcloths, soft brushes, cat shampoos, non-slip floor mats and towels near you will help a lot and also minimize the dangers of your cat (or you) falling or destroying the bathroom.

Step 2 – Time for a swim

Even though most cats don’t enjoy water, they still allow their owners to wash them.

When putting the cat in a tub or sink, you should have a clean non-slip surface.

Once your cat starts squirming on the slippery surface, not having anything to grab onto it will cause it to panic even more and you’ll be left dealing with your cat’s claws.

The easiest way to deal with this is to put some kind of a rubber mat in the tub or sink, wherever you decide to bathe the cat.

Keep in mind that trimming your cat’s nails prior to the bath will diminish the chances of getting yourself injured, if you feel like it might be a battle.

Step 3 – Cleaning

The whole process should be slow and steady. Don’t force yourself just to get it done; take your time so your cat gets used to it, and this will also make it easier the next time you bathe your cat.

You should start to clean your cat from the face down. The easiest way to do this is with a simple washcloth. As an alternative, you can do it with a sprayer.

Gently clean her face, head and the area around her ears. Scrub in some cat shampoo and massage your way from the head down to the tail.

Make sure you do it thoroughly.

You should try to avoid getting the head too wet since our feline friends don’t enjoy water on the face.

Afterwards, all that is left is to rinse your cat. Make sure you do not leave any excess shampoo on the cat’s fur.

Step 4 – Drying

For the finish touch, you need to dry your cat’s fur. Wrap them up in some towels and then dry them thoroughly with towels or a blow dryer.

If you’re lucky and your cat is not afraid of the blow dryer, then it will be a lot easier and faster to dry them. Either way make sure your cat is in a warm place until they have completely dried off.

What To Use

When it comes to what you want to clean them with, it is totally up to you.

However, you need to choose a cat-safe product. Do your research and choose the best product for your cat.

My go-to are unscented, gentle, or hypoallergenic cat shampoos. Primarily, you should search for the unscented versions since cats have a delicate sense of smell.

Natural shampoos really do a great job, they reduce dandruff and dander, so your cat’s skin and fur will be healthy and look good.

There are various types and you can either get them over on Amazon or in your local pet store. You should avoid using human shampoos at all costs.

Related: Best Cat Shampoo Alternatives: No More Bathing Nightmares

Final Thoughts

Cat bathing is necessary, sometimes because of a messy situation, and other times because of the nature of their coat or breed. As they age or gain weight this becomes even more important. There will be situations where you will simply have to step in, even if you didn’t do it before.

For the most part, cats can maintain their hygiene when it comes to their fur.

Don’t forget there are professional groomers out there if you don’t feel comfortable doing it. It’s okay to let someone else get the hairballs rolling and do the dirty work for you.

Just make sure they have experience working with cats, as they are a lot tougher to work with than dogs.

So, to answer the important question once again: how often should you wash your indoor cat mostly depends on the cat itself, but it is generally recommended to wash it once every 4 to 6 weeks.

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