I’ve had to bath a cat once in all the time I have cared for cats. Does this sound very low or that I have very dirty habits? I don’t think so.
Cats groom themselves frequently but there are times when it may be necessary, even an emergency. It may even be a matter of life and death as opposed to making your cat presentable for a cat show.
Also some cats need bathing regularly such as the Sphynx. If this is not done a dirty oily film coats your cat. I guess it is not vital but highly preferable.
Then there are the longhair cats such as the Persians. Their coats can get matted especially if they go out. Many experienced Persian Cat owners say that you should keep a Persian in as an indoor cat mainly because of the coat.
If your in the cat show business you most likely will have trained your cat from kitten hood to accept and even like a bath as you will be doing lots of it to prepare your cat for shows.
It is not automatically the case that cats dislike water. Most Moggies (the majority of cats) do dislike it. But some of the rare wild/domestic cat hybrid breeds such as the Savannah, the Bengal and Chausie, for example may positively revel in it. Although washing a cat in water and playing in water are two different things.
The wild/domestic hybrids tend to like water and are attracted to it because the wild cat parents (the Asian Leopard Cat for the Bengal, the Jungle Cat for the Chausie and the Serval for the Savannah) lived and frequented marsh lands and areas where there was water to find food sources.
The only time I have had to bath a cat was when my darling Missie (now passed on) fell into a large pot of solid white emulsion (you know those solid paints in a slab).
The whole of one side of her was covered. She ran off quickly leaving a trail of paint on the carpet. She hid and started to wash herself. I found and caught her quickly and put her in the sink and turned the tap on her.
Fortunately it was a water based paint.
There was a real risk that my cat could have poisoned herself. It had happened once before. I had used a spray on her coat to get rid of fleas (that I had brought back from Rome, Italy )
She licked the spray chemical off and started foaming at the mouth. I had to race down to the vets. She was OK in fact. That was almost 20 years ago. I’ve learnt since. Get rid of fleas with a coomb if you have the time – much safer and your cat will probably like it.
But poisoning is an occasion when it may be wise to bath a cat. Cats are more susceptible to poisoning causing illness and injury because a cat’s liver is less efficient that other animals’ livers in detoxifying the body, ridding it of the ingested poison. Small amounts of harmful substances can harm a cat.
There is a long list of household and garden products including fertilizers, pest controls, weed killer, slug killers, DIY products and some plants for example, which are poisonous if ingested. It is unlikely to happen but there are real risks.
Many years ago a Burmese cat that lived with my mother was poisoned and died slowly with my mother caring for her. This was a traumatic experience for both.
Cats are fastidious animals and will try and lick off any substance that shouldn’t be there. This is a time when a speedy bath is essential.
If you have to bath a cat use cat shampoo and rise very thoroughly. I discuss the topic here in relation to grooming and bathing a Persian Cat
Allergic to cats – hypoallergenic cats
There are no hypoallergenic cats (except the Allerca, Ashera GD and Chakan GD, if you believe what LifeStyle Pets say). Although some cat breeds are better than others for people allergic to cats. The Siberian is alleged to be less liable to cause an allergic reaction. And so is the Sphynx. These are just 2 examples that come to mind.
The allergic reaction is caused by a protein in the saliva of the cat, which is deposited on the fur when grooming where it dries. Regular weekly bathing will remove it and so alleviate the problem. You are doing this for a human and not for the cat.
Under veterinarian care there may be a need to bath a cat if, for example she has a skin condition or external parasites.
An unforeseen consequence of having to bath a cat is that a cat who knows the now cleaner cat will no longer recognize her and may even hiss at her and for a while become aggressive towards her. Why? Cats recognize each other and you through scent as well as sight. The scent will be washed off until it returns.
My cat who fell into the paint had a brother who was very close to her. After washing he hissed at her as if she was a stranger.
Photographs reproduced under creative commons – credits:
- top two © Nikitushka
- middle Adam © ‘Rez’
- bottom © justinbaeder