How Often Do Cats Need to be Brushed or Bathed?

Although most dogs enjoy getting bathed, cats generally detest it, and only a few like being brushed. Knowing when your cat needs either is an important part of being a responsible cat owner.

Most cats do not like water and keep themselves clean, as such they do not usually need baths.  Brushing, on the other hand, can be very important to keeping their skin and coat healthy.  Regular brushing helps reduce shedding by removing loose hair and improving skin condition.


Young kittens are cared for and groomed by their mother. They should not be dirty unless living in overcrowded conditions. Generally bathing only stresses young animals and should be avoided. They can be introduced to being brushed after they are weaned. This should be done with a soft brush and for no more than a few seconds. If the kitten thinks you are playing and tries to bite the brush, you need to put it down and leave it alone so it understands the biting ends attention.

A kitten who was previously treated for eat mite medication might be greasy in this case it may be necessary to bathe the kitten. Do so only after all treatments of medication are done. Use kitten shampoo only.

Otherwise kittens should be brushed for a short time once, or twice, a week, and generally do not need to be bathed at all.

Longhair Cats

Longhaired cats do need regular brushing. Think of how often you brush your hair. Some breeds have finer hair and these cats are prone to getting mats. The hair mats can become very painful. If they are not close to the skin they can be cut with scissors or will get worse. If they are close to the skin using scissors risks cutting the cats skin. At this stage a trip to the groomer for a shave is the only thing that can be done. Regular brushing with a Slicker Brush will help prevent tangles by removing loose hairs.

Longhaired cats should be brushed 1-3 times a week, and generally do not need to be bathed at all.

Shorthair Cats

Shorthaired cats tend to not have problems with their coat tangling, however brushing will help reduce shedding. In the spring even indoor only cats tend to shed a lot. Brushing using a Slicker Brush will remove some of the loose hair. If the cat tolerates it, brushing it in reverse will really loosen the hair, but if done too much, will just make the cat mad.

Shorthaired cats should be brushed once a week, and generally do not need to be bathed at all.

Pandora Gets Groomed by brownpau.

Shampooing Information

Although cats really do not need regular bathing there may be a reason for it, as when a cat is sprayed by a skunk, or perhaps had been ill and smells bad.

Use cat shampoo only, while baby shampoo is okay in an emergency, human shampoo is too harsh and drying on a cats skin.

To bathe a cat fill the sink or bathtub with 3 inches of warm water and place the cat in, use a cup to pour the water over the back of the cat, avoid getting water on the cats face. Use a wash cloth on the body and head.

Flea shampoo should only be used if the cat actually has fleas. Follow instructions and do not leave flea shampoo on for longer than the instructions indicate.

Rinse the shampoo well, follow with conditioner, and again rinse well. Be sure to dry the cat completely.

There are “Water-Less” Shampoos available.

Be careful what you wish for by quinn.anya.

Shaving a Cat

This is done when cats become too covered with mats that are not removable with scissors.

Shaving is usually done by a groomer or veterinarian.

Never allow a groomer to sedate your cat without veterinary approval.

Shaved cats must be kept indoors only or will be cold and prone to sun burn.


Even if cats like water and seem to enjoy baths, bathing them too frequently can dry their skin out.  Their coat is made to be healthy without needing washing.

Related Links

How to Reduce Shedding in Cats

How Often do Dogs need Baths

How to Bathe a Cat

Declawing Cats

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User Comments
  1. CaSundara

    On March 20, 2010 at 9:10 am

    My male cat loves a bath! He’s a ragdoll and I got him aged one and he’d lived with a dog and STANK! We have to bath him three times to get rid of the smell. I use a totally natural product from America; it doesn’t really lather up but gets him nice and clean without aggravating the skin or anything. Tthe company also make a natural stain-remover from liquid with natural enzymes that eat the dirt and destroy the smell of any animal messs – it’s fine on carpet etc.
    Anyway, I now have a puppy of my own and Merlin’s starting to smell again (the puppy licks him all over), so he needs another bath. He tries to get in with the puppy so I may just bath them together.

  2. martie

    On March 20, 2010 at 10:14 am

    I wouldn’t even try giving our cat a bath! He loves to be brused though.

  3. deep blue

    On March 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    These are interesting tips for an animal lover.

  4. PR Mace

    On March 20, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Since I’m not a cat person I will forward this one to my daughter and her three cats.

  5. clay hurtubise

    On March 20, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Good information.

  6. Joanne Teh

    On March 21, 2010 at 12:18 am

    Well, personally i don’t like cats. but I think it is almost same with dogs… Its quite difficult to get them in showers, they will runaway. But, this article is great info for those who love cats, i think :)

  7. standingproud

    On March 23, 2010 at 4:46 am

    I bet I learn some thing.
    now I will go and read.
    I did.
    When I was much younger I did bath my cat and lots, she was a water cat and would sit on the side of the bath thinking my wriggly toes were fish, then out of the blue she just jumped in, from then on she was in the bath with me which I encouraged, so her fur was nice and shiny but her skin was not good,{Sorry pussy cat },back then I did not have a clue,.

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