How Often To Bathe A Cat?

Videos of cute cats getting a bath are all over the internet. However, many owners don’t really understand how often to bathe a cat.

They think this is something that needs to be done regularly. While a cat’s skin and coat health is important, is this something that is achieved by bathing? Or are there other ways to ensure your kitty’s fur is shiny?

In this article, we’ll talk about how often to bathe a cat – and when should you bath her, at all. Let’s begin!

How Often to Bathe a Cat?


Unlike dogs, cats can clean themselves. Even if they are outdoor cats, you shouldn’t bathe them weekly, or even monthly. This can do them more harm than good. However, sometimes bathing a cat is important. Typically, if your cat gets so dirty she can’t clean herself, you’d want to help her. How often to bathe a cat depends on several factors, such as:

  • Are they indoor or outdoor cats? Indoor cats will need baths more often than indoor ones.
  • Coat type and length – Cats with long fur will need more maintenance.
  • Can they groom themselves well? Some cats simply don’t know how to clean themselves up.
  • Activity level – Active cats might need more frequent baths.
  • Health problems – Some health issues, such as flea or tick infestation, skin irritation, and loose stool require more maintenance.

The National Cat Groomers of America suggests you bath your longhair cats every four to six weeks. This will keep their coats from becoming pelted or matted.

Other professionals, however, suggest you don’t bathe your cats unless it’s absolutely necessary. Some cats will feel extremely stressed out during baths. Also, shorthair cats can do a fine job keeping themselves sparkly clean.

Cats spend around 50% of their awake time grooming.

Other than keeping them clean, this will also help them keep their scent on them. When you bathe them, you erase this smell, causing stress. In fact, if you bathe her frequently and she doesn’t like that, you give her negative associations with being held. This can lead to her disliking you touching her, and no cat owner wants that.

Cats who are regularly bathed against their own will might become defensive in front of their owners. This is a habit you aren’t likely to get rid of.

If you insist on taking some care of your cat, there are a few things you can do. This includes:

  • Cleaning the inside of their ears
  • Nail trimming
  • Regular brushing
  • Wiping their bottom with a damp cloth

So, in short, how often should you bathe a cat? As little as possible, if ever.


Of course, every rule has its exceptions, and so does the ‘no bathing’ one. There are some occasions where it’s entirely reasonable – even desired – to bathe your cat. This includes:

  • If your cat has soiled herself, got skunked, or rolled herself into something really nasty
  • You have a hairless cat – they need to have baths at least once a week
  • You have just rescued your cat and she is filled with fleas or ticks
  • Your cat is old or has some issue due to which she doesn’t groom anymore
  • Cat is obese, so she can’t clean herself up effectively
  • Your cat got splashed by some toxic substance

Even in those occurrences, bathing isn’t always necessary. For example, elder or obese cats don’t really need bathing. You can just wipe their rear ends to clean them after they did their business. If you’re worried about their fur, brush them regularly to remove any loose fur. This is especially important in fall and spring when cats change their coat.

If a cat got dirty by rubbing onto something, don’t bathe her entirely.

Just brush the area with a damp cloth. If the stain is persistent or oily, use a bit of cat shampoo on the cloth. Just remember to rinse it afterward.

If your kitty got splashed by some paint or oil by accident, don’t risk allowing her to lick it clean. These stains often won’t just go away even if you try to wipe them off. The best solution would be to just cut out the part of the fur that is affected. Don’t worry, cat’s fur can regrow very quickly.

Longhair cats need to be brushed regularly instead of bathed, even though many societies claim differently. If your cat really enjoys baths, then go for it. On all other occasions, brushing should be enough. And if you wonder how often to bathe a cat with long fur – don’t go overboard. Washing her every few months should do the job.

And remember, only do this if a cat likes bathing (which isn’t very common). You could just trim the fur under a longhaired cat’s tail to ensure she can clean it more easily.

What Do I Need to Bathe My Cat Safely


If for any reason, you need to wash your cat, there are a few rules and tips. Some of the most important ones are:

  • Brush your cat regularly. This is a much better way to keep your kitty clean.
  • Bathe her only when absolutely necessary.
  • Use the pet shampoo – NEVER bathe your cat with a human shampoo or a detergent.
  • Be careful – the water shouldn’t get into kitties ears, eyes, or nose.

First off, it would be best if your kitty is used to bathing. If you want to have a cat you can bathe, you should start when she is still a kitten. This way, she’ll get used to this procedure.

Don’t bathe your cat in a bathtub. Do this in a kitchen sink, instead. Cats feel more comfortable in confined environments that aren’t too spacious. Also, this way you won’t have to kneel or bend over. If your kitty suddenly panics, you could help her faster if you are standing up.

Sinks are slippery, so place a towel or a rubber bath mat inside of it. You can place some cotton wool in your kitty’s ears to ensure the water doesn’t get in. Just make sure she isn’t in any pain and the cotton wool isn’t too deep.

Pet your cat all the time until she purrs, to ensure she is comfortable enough. Only then you can lower her into warm water mixed with a bit of cat shampoo.

Use just enough water so she can stand up in it with the water reaching the top of her legs. Take a flannel and wipe her coat in the growth direction. If your kitty at any point becomes agitated, try comforting her. You know what she likes – talk to her or gently pet her. This can calm her down. Once you hear your cat purr, you know she is at least a bit calmer.

Make sure you wipe her with a soft towel as soon as you’re done. Do cats get cold indoors after a bath?

They can.

You must ensure she is completely dried out.

If bathing becomes a relaxing and pleasant experience for your cat while she is a kitten, good job! You might just get a cat that will love being bathed. This can even become a part of a regular grooming routine. However, it is really hard for an adult cat to get used to bathing. If you have to bathe an adult cat, chances are she won’t be too happy about this.

What Shampoo Should You Use?

You should never bathe a cat with a human’s shampoo. There are many pet shampoos on the market, some of them are made specifically for cats. Look for shampoos that have natural ingredients, such as aloe vera, citrus extracts, and oatmeal. Don’t use products with artificial dyes, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Parabens, and Petrochemicals.

Different kinds of cat shampoos include:

  • Kitten Shampoos
  • Hypoallergenic Shampoos
  • Flea and Tick Shampoos
  • Waterless Shampoos

How Often Can You Wash a Cat with Flea Shampoo?

If your cat has fleas, use a flea shampoo. There is no general rule on how often to bathe a cat infested with fleas. Typically, a few baths during the span of a week should do the job. This depends on the number of fleas.

Some experts recommend that you wash your outdoor with a flea shampoo at least once a month. Yes, do this even if she seems to be free of fleas. Parasites and insects can live on your cat without you even realizing it. Of course, only do this if your kitty isn’t too stressed out by baths. If she is, try seeking some alternative methods to protect her from fleas. This includes:

  • Getting a flea collar
  • Getting an anti-parasite ampoule
  • Daily brushing
  • Regular vet visits

Why You Shouldn’t Bathe Your Cat Too Often?


You may be surprised when you learn how often to bathe a cat, and how infrequent that is. However, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t go overboard with bathing a cat, especially if you use shampoos. Shampoos can cause cat with dandruff, as they will dry their skin and make it flakey. If this continues, it may even end with your cat losing hair or developing some skin issue. It is much healthier for your cat’s coat for you to never bathe her, instead of bathing her too much.

Also, as we’ve already mentioned, cats can get colds even indoors. If you notice your cat sneezing after bathing, make sure she is warm. Colds can be dangerous for a cat, and you should never allow them to get chills.

This is especially the case with young kittens who still haven’t gotten their vaccines. They can get serious health issues, some of which can even be fatal. Once your cat is at least two to three months old, you can try giving her baths from time to time.

If you wonder how to improve the condition of a cat’s coat, brushing her regularly should be enough. You might also try giving her food rich with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

These nutrients can help your kitty’s fur grow shiny and healthy.

Bottom Line

Cats can do all the cleaning on their own. Unlike dogs, they are really good at keeping their hygiene and bathing can cause them more harm than good. Some experts claim that you should bathe your longhaired cat weekly, but this isn’t too good, as well.

It’s enough to just brush them or clean their ears from time to time.

If you insist on doing it, how often to bathe a cat depends on many factors. There are some good reasons why cats need to be washed, some of which are flea infestation and dirty patches. Still, you should never insist on bathing a stressed-out cat. Cats are prone to remembering things, and they might even grow to hate you.