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How Often Should You Wash Your Indoor Cat?

How Often Should You Wash Your Indoor Cat?

It seems to me that every time I look at my kitty Piper, she is grooming herself. Obviously, this is her favorite activity!  

I believe most of your cats act like Piper. If together with your cat’s grooming herself, you also brush her regularly, her coat surely looks shiny and healthy!

I also believe many of you have asked whether washing your cat is actually necessary – since they dedicate so much of their time to grooming. Washing seems needless more knowing your indoor cat will not get dirty so easily!

Well, the truth is – you don’t actually need to wash your indoor cat, especially not too often! Still, there are some situations when baths will be necessary.

Cats Are Exceptional Groomers!

cat grooming itself

If your indoor cat is healthy and young, there is actually no need to bathe her at all. I mean, your cat almost never leaves the house, and grooms herself almost all day long!

I think my Piper is doing a good job herself, and I believe many of you don’t have to teach your cats how to clean themselves as well, since most of them are excellent in grooming.

However, washing your indoor cat might be inevitable sometimes. 

Let’s take a look at what could cause you to spend a bit more time trying to get your pet to the bath (since, let’s face it – not many cats will truly enjoy the bathing experience!).

1. A Smelly Or Hazardous Situation

Cat lying near scattered soil on light carpet

If your cat has got into something smelly, stinky, or potentially dangerous – you should wash her.

In some cases, brushing might solve this problem, but, sometimes this will simply not be possible without water and pet shampoo!

2. Health Issues

If your cat has some medical condition, such as a bacterial infection, or a ringworm, you should bathe her following your vet’s instructions. 

Actually, in some cases, bathing your cat can even be beneficial for your own health.

What do I mean by this? All allergy sufferers should know that bathing their cats often can significantly help with their symptoms. 

A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery [1] suggests how bathing a cat once or twice a week minimizes the Fel d 1 allergen exposure – which is the protein triggering allergy reaction in humans.

See Also: Are Calico Cats Hypoallergenic Or Bad For Allergy Sufferers?

3. A Senior Cat

Bathing a cat in a bathtub

Your cat might look the same to you, but all felines will change as they age. Many of them will not be capable of jumping and climbing as they used to, and many will develop different health issues.

A less mobile cat will also be less capable of grooming herself. This is the time where you should step in and wash your senior cat.

4. An Overweight Cat

Obesity is bad for cats’ health in general and it can also negatively impact their natural ability to groom themselves.

How is that so?

Well, obese cats will have trouble reaching all parts of their bodies. While grooming is a basic thing healthy cats do without trouble, overweight cats might need help from their owners.

5. Tangled Coat

Many cats, especially long-haired ones, might deal with mats in their coats, which can get pretty uncomfortable and even painful for them.

In a situation like this, you might simply need to wash your cat to detangle her coat. 

The best prevention for this is regular brushing; this is also the option your kitty will certainly prefer over frequent baths!

Are There Any Breed Specifics?

Hairless Cat in Towel

Indoor cats will not need frequent baths, with the exception of hairless cat breeds.

These cats have sweaty and oily skin, so, it is necessary to give them a bath once a week to maintain their skin and coats healthy and clean. 

Weekly baths will help remove the excess oil of hairless cats’ skin. The best option here is to use warm water and a hypoallergenic cat shampoo that will not cause skin reactions. 

You should never use a human shampoo, not even a baby shampoo, that is gentle and less harsh, but, still – not adequate for cats.

Can Frequent Baths Harm Your Cat?

Grey Scottish fold cat takes a bath

If you wash your cat often, this might remove the protective layer of natural oils in her coat.

So, provided your kitty is healthy and perfectly capable of grooming herself – you should not wash her at all.

One additional thing I need to mention is the cats’ aversion to water. 

According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, felines evolved in arid desert climates and were not exposed to rivers and rain. As a result, they were not as familiar with water as some other species, like dogs. 

Of course, not all cats will drive their owners crazy when they try to give them a bath, but, if there is really no need to bathe your cat often, don’t do it.


woman bathing a cat

So, how often should you wash your indoor cat?

If there is no specific need, I recommend you not to wash her at all. Cats are flexible and perfectly capable of removing dirt from their coats, and keeping them shiny and clean.

Not only is bathing unnecessary for standalone groomers as cats; it can also make them feel stressed.

Still, if a certain situation requires you to bathe your kitty, first consult your veterinarian on the best way to do this.

[1] Sparkes, AH: Human allergy to cats:A review of the impact on cat ownership and relinquishment. J Feline Med Surg. 2022 Jan; 24(1): 43–52. DOI, Retrieved March 24, 2023.