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Do Cats Need Baths?


Do Cats Need Baths?

Postby admin » Sat Dec 24, 2016 8:06 pm

Here I’ve been running this blog for over six years, and this is the first time I’ve covered giving cats baths. That’s because I find it an extremely optional part of cat maintenance.

Almost all of the time, so do our cats.


I am fully aware that there are cats who love baths. I even wrote a post on the strategies employed by people who are allergic to cats, and have cats anyway. One such strategy is to regularly bathe the cat, so obviously, they and their cats manage.

I am still very much against them. Here’s why baths are usually a bad idea:

Baths are unnecessary.

Some of this Cat Bath Craziness seems to spring from the same old “Cats are actually small dogs with funny barks” misconception which creates so much trouble for cats and their Appreciators. We need to bathe dogs. We don’t need to bathe cats.

Dogs and cats have taken opposite paths when it comes to hunting strategies. Dogs love to roll in stinky things because they mask their own scent that way. Their prey will never suspect that pile of dung is really a wolf pack.

While cats continually groom themselves to eliminate any of their own scent. They are preparing to sneak up on their prey, and don’t want to give themselves away.

Cats are very clean animals, so there usually isn’t any reason to treat them like a pair of jeans after a long hike. I love the way they smell, au naturale. In fact, Reverend Jim has always smelled like cinnamon.

Baths are dangerous.

If I wanted to give my cat the impression that I am trying to kill them, there are more fun ways. Because that is exactly the emotion triggered by taking a cat and attempting to immerse them in lots of water.

The danger is to both the cat and the people. There’s lots of pointy things involved when a cat panics, and that’s bad for fragile humans.

In addition, the cat might get a paw trapped in sink mechanisms, race wildly around a tiled room with plenty of things to bump their heads on, and lose all control of their bowels in a dramatic enough fashion to upset their digestion, and nervous system, for days.

Baths are treacherous.

As always, the psychological implications can be just as traumatic as the physical ones. If we initiate a bath early in the relationship, we can risk a lot of pain and creating a highly mistrustful pet. If we try one when our cat already trusts us, we have complicated our relationship for no good purpose.

Imagine meeting a lovely person and our dating arc is going really well. On one stroll in the park, our date “playfully” wrestles us into a nearby fountain, despite all our protests and physical discouragements.

This does not advance our relationship.

Baths are overkill.

I’ve rescued absolutely filthy, flea-ridden, young kittens and a bath can be the best way to get them back on the road to health. Kittens tend not to mind because everything is new to them anyway. If we plan to bathe our cat as an allergy stratagem, starting them young and getting them used to it is a sensible way to train them.

But for adults, an old bath towel can be used like a giant Cat-Momma tongue and works far better than attempting full immersion. Cats past the teeny-tiny stage have the ability to object and a desire to do it themselves that lets them pick up where our big bath towel might leave off. I’ve rescued sick cats who were dirty, and they were grateful for the towel helping them out. A bath might have stressed them enough to finish them off.

Baths are prejudiced.

Insisting on giving a cat a bath implies we think the cat is dirty. This is an odd assertion to make to a being who spends between 30 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves.

I think it springs from some people’s uneasiness with having “animals” around. I had childhood friends whose ability to have a pet lay in their own willingness to obsessively clean up after it because a parent didn’t like having animals in the house.

There are cat breeds who like actually getting in the water, such as the Turkish Van or some Bengals. There are many cats who will put toys in their water bowl or play with floating toys in the bathroom sink. But in every case of the cat enjoying themselves, the cat initiated this behavior. They control it. They decide when it’s fun, and when it’s not.

I never argue with that.

However, I’m a fan of Grooming the Cat. This is both important, and fun.

About Pamela Merritt

Through her amateur cat rescue, she cured problem cats and placed them in new homes. Learn to maximize cat enjoyment!
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