Do Cats Need Baths?

Do Cats Need a Bath

Do cats really need baths? In a word, no. After all, grooming themselves is something cats do very well. And they should, considering how much time they spend at it. With their barbed tongues they are usually quite capable of keeping their own coats clean without any help from humans, thank you very much.

However, regardless of your cat’s opinion, there are some circumstances that make shampoo and water necessary. For example, if you discover external parasites, stubborn dirt (such as paint or sap) or smelly stuff in your cat’s fur, nothing short of a bath will safely get her clean.

Learn about Purina® Cat Chow® Complete and its essential fatty acids that help promote a shiny coat.

If your cat has long hair (yes Persians, this means you) keeping it clean may be more than she can handle, regardless of her grooming skills. On the other hand, hairless cats such as Sphynx need periodic baths to remove body oils that are normally absorbed by the hair they lack.

There are also medical reasons why your cat might need a bath. Cats that are elderly, obese or have mobility issues may find it a challenge to keep clean (at least to cat standards). Or, if you have a human family member with a cat allergy, giving your cat a weekly rinse can help reduce allergy-aggravating cat dander. Of course, while this may improve life for the allergy sufferer, we can’t say the same for the person bathing the cat. ;-)

Tired of the sneezing and itching? Check out “Pet allergies: 5 ways to manage your symptoms”


If done properly, a bath can be beneficial for your cat’s skin and coat. Just remember that this does not mean she will enjoy it. And that she has been sharpening both her claws, and her fighting skills, for an event like this.

To bathe, or not to bathe? At the end of the day, the decision is up to you and your cat. (Although you probably know how your cat would decide.) If you choose the way of the tub, be prepared to do battle… because chances are, your cat won’t go quietly. And if you have any questions about whether a bath is safe for your cat, always check with your veterinarian.

Read “Giving Your Cat a Bath” to learn how to survive bathing your cat with your skin still intact.


  • Becker M. Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet? 2006: 48–51.
  • The Cat Fancier’s Association – Sphynx Breed Profile
  • Brunner D. The Cat Owner’s Manual. 2004: 132–5.
  • Shojai A. The Purina Encyclopedia of Cat Care. 1998: 191, 197–200.
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