Outdoor cats get dirty far more often than their indoor feline counterparts and likely need more baths. Indoor cats aren’t subjected to the same amount of dirt and grime, meaning they probably need less washing. But how often should you wash your indoor cat?
You should wash your indoor cat only when they have fleas or other infestations to keep them happy and clean, without stripping their fur of their natural oils. In addition to bathing, a cat’s fur should be brushed or combed at least weekly to prevent its fur from becoming matted.
Throughout this article, we’ll discuss why indoor cats need to bathe more often than outdoor cats, how often they need to be bathed, and how to bathe a feline that despises both water and baths. Read on to learn more.
Why You Might Need To Wash Your Indoor Cat
When compared to outdoor cats, an indoor cat is likely much cleaner and healthier. However, your feline companion will still get dirty and need a bath occasionally.
A cat should only be washed when they have fleas or other infestations, and cannot groom itself. Cats’ tongues are rough, much like sandpaper, which acts like a scrub brush to clean their fur and take off the oils.
Even vets agree that it’s unnecessary to wash your cat if it looks healthy and clean.
On the other hand, you don’t want to over bathe an indoor cat either. Washing your cat too frequently can also lead to skin problems such as dry skin and irritation.
Situations Where You Might Wash Your Indoor Cat
Washing your indoor cat may seem unnecessary to you. They aren’t outside getting dirty and exposing themselves to bugs or other environmental factors, so they should be reasonably clean and healthy, right?
Deciding when and how often to wash your indoor cat is tricky.
Because the cat stays indoors and doesn’t come into contact with dirt like outdoor cats, you might think it’s fine to skip bathing altogether. After all, cats aren’t too fond of water, so why put your feline friend through an event that could be traumatic for him or her?
Since cats are able to groom themselves and keep their fur clean, it hardly makes sense to put your cat through such a traumatic event.
Here are some reasons why you might want to wash your cat:
- When you first adopt a stray cat who previously lived outdoors and they have fleas or other infestations.
- The cat has tangled fur and washing it is the only way to detangle it.
- Your cat has had a heat stroke and needs to cool down fast.
- If your cat has gotten into some chemicals that can only be removed with soap and water.
- The cat has ringworm and the fur is affected.
How To Help a Cat Who Hates Being Bathed
We’ve seen it in movies and cartoons—cats do not typically like water.
While some cats indulge in swimming from time to time, most domestic breeds are averse to it, mostly because wet fur is uncomfortable for felines. It takes a while for their fur to dry and because they are predators, it makes them feel at risk of becoming prey.
Fortunately, there are ways to encourage your cat to relax around water, and since you only need to bathe your cat only when necessary, this provides plenty of time to introduce your cat to water.
Start In the Sink
A great way to start is to place the cat in the sink when the water is off and no water is in the basin, as this makes the sink a familiar place. By adding toys to the sink or giving the cat a treat while he’s in the sink, you’re providing positive reinforcement and ensuring your feline friend that a sink is a safe place.
Once you’ve gotten your cat used to the sink, you can start to introduce water.
First, turn on the tap. Slowly inch your cat closer to the running water and put water in your hand. Allow the cat to look, touch, sniff, and even drink the water. Start introducing a little more water each time and let them play with it.
Once your cat is used to being near water, it’s time to try bathing them.
You don’t need much water—just enough to cover your cat’s feet. Ensure that the temperature is warm, not hot. Wash quickly to make the process as simple as possible for your feline.
After you bathe your cat, make sure that you dry their fur thoroughly so they don’t get uncomfortable and associate that feeling with bath time. Using these tips is a great way to introduce bath time to your cat.
How To Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy
Keeping your cat indoors is a responsible choice to keep your cat healthy and safe.
Although you may feel guilty depriving them of being an outdoor cat, there are things you can do indoors to make your cat feel at home.
One thing you can do to keep your indoor cat happy is to get them a companion. They like to play so having another animal for them gives them exercise and fulfills their natural instinct to chase.
In addition, some stimulating cat toys are a wonderful idea to keep your feline friend entertained. Laser toys are a popular choice. Cats have a high prey drive, so chasing a laser is a way to allow them to tap into those natural instincts.
Just be sure to provide a treat when your cat “catches” the laser.
Scratching posts with hideaways provide a way for your cat to alleviate the need to scratch, climb, and hide. A post with all three options should keep your cat entertained for hours.
If you want your cat to enjoy time outdoors without placing them in danger, you can purchase a cat leash and take your furry friend for a walk. This keeps cats safe but also allows them time to explore and get fresh air and exercise.
Alternatively, you can set up an enclosed outdoor play area to let the cat explore and roam “freely.”
Should I Keep My Cat Indoors or Outdoors?
A cat’s natural habitat is outdoors, so you may feel guilty keeping them inside. You may think you are suppressing their need to explore and be free. You might also think that a cat requires less attention if they are an outdoor cat.
You should keep your cat indoors, as it is a much better solution than putting them in harm’s way outdoors. If your cat is an outdoor cat, it’s likely to come into contact with dirt, grime, bacteria, and other filth.
Outdoor cats are also exposed to fleas, ticks, and even things like motor oil, prickly burs, and small prey animals like birds and mice. Needless to say, outdoor cats need more baths than indoor felines.
Indoor cats aren’t as susceptible to the same grime, lessening the need to wash them.
Felines naturally have a strong prey drive, so there is a strong possibility that an outdoor cat will bring home unwanted guests. Mites are often found on these prey animals, which your cat can bring inside and disrupt your home.
Even worse, cats are often targeted by wild animals and dogs to chase and attack, putting them at extreme risk if kept outdoors.
These reasons alone should be enough to help you make the decision to keep your cat indoors.
Wash your indoor cat if they have been exposed to fleas or ticks, their fur has been matted, or if they have ringworm and they are not able to do it themselves.
Keeping a cat indoors is the responsible choice to keep them safe and happy.
Although you may feel as though a cat would be happier outdoors in its natural habitat, there are many things you can do to make your cat feel happy. Take good care of your cat to prevent the need for a bath and provide it with toys and a companion.
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.