Does My Cat Really Need A Bath?

May 30, 2016

The thought of giving a cat a bath may startle some. But in fact, there are cats out there who receive regular grooming services. Cats can be very sensitive individuals. Therefore, it follows that bathing and clipping a cat is generally a very different process than doing so with a dog. There are some groomers who may use the same techniques with dogs as with cats. However, Pasadena’s local pet spa Roch & Gertrude make every attempt to treat cats with a sensitivity that is specialized to their unique feline needs. In a secluded room dubbed The Feline Flat, cats benefit from Feliway plug-ins to help soothe them during their stay. This room is intended to keep their cat clients as stress-free as possible during arrival, drying time, and clipping.

Rather than spray their cat clients with water, they bathe them as gently as you would an infant, rinsing them gently with a cup of water. Cats are then wrapped gently in a towel and comforted, before blow-drying. They use a low-volume blow dryer to hand-dry cats, or have them relax in a suite, whichever they prefer.

Depending on the condition of the cat’s coat, the groomer will do their haircut before the bathing process and touch-up after. Otherwise, she will simply do the whole haircut after their bath. Leanne Macdonald, chief groomer and owner at Roch & Gertrude kindly shares four reasons why a cat’s person typically seeks grooming services, and how Roch & Gertrude approach each type of visit delicately and uniquely.

Regular Maintenance Grooming (due to Cat, or Person;) Some cats breeds that have longer hair, such as a Himalayan or Ragdoll, will need grooming in order to remove unwanted hair. Conversely, there are hairless cat breeds, such as a Sphynx or Peterbald, that require weekly baths. Additionally, a cat’s person may have some level of allergy to their cat. Consequently, regardless of length of hair, people may choose to have the cat bathed on a regular basis in order to keep them cleaner, and allergic reactions at a minimum.


Matted Coats Depending on length of hair or ability to clean themselves, cats need help from their people to keep up with their coat. If this is not done, a cat’s coat can get matted just like a dog’s coat. It is hazardous to the cat’s health to keep them in a matted condition. Mats can tug at a pet’s skin, creating sores and other skin problems. Heavy matting can trap moisture and urine near the pet’s skin allowing mold, fungus or bacteria to grow. This discomfort causes skin irritations to exist even prior to the grooming process. Torn skin from tight mats can also harbor maggots, and matting can hide flea and tick infestations as well. These times call for a complete shave-down of the cat’s coat. After effects of mat removal procedures can include itchiness, skin redness, self-inflicted irritations or abrasions and failure of the hair to re-grow. With any severely matted cat, we always use a special shampoo and deep conditioning treatment in order soothe the skin after mat removal. Shaved pets are also prone to sunburn. Therefore, they should either have sunscreen applied daily, or should be kept out of the sun until the hair grows sufficiently to protect the skin. It is important to note that in some cases, pets may also exhibit brief behavioral changes.


Flea Issues Cats are susceptible to flea infestations, particularly if they are indoor/outdoor or outdoor only. Being that cats are sensitive animals, different products are required for cats than for dogs. When it comes to flea treatment for cats, an oral or topical preventative is recommended on a regular basis. If fleas are spotted on your cat, a flea bath may be in order. A visit to your Veterinarian is necessary to obtain an oral flea preventative such as Capstar. Topical flea treatments are available at most pet stores and groomers (including Roch & Gertrude!); Advantage for Cats is a highly rated product. Flea deterrent sprays are also available, but cannot guarantee the removal of fleas. In terms of flea baths, it is important to stay away from shampoos that contain insecticides such as pyrethrins, as they are potentially toxic to cats. We use a shampoo that contains a natural insecticide called D’Limonene, which is an orange peel extract. A good bath or two with a natural flea shampoo should rid your cat of any flea infestation, without exposing him or her to toxic chemicals.

De-Skunking You may be unlucky enough to have experienced the unforgettable aroma of your pet being skunked. Skunk spray is a natural defense oil that saturates the skin & coat, and is nearly impossible to remove from a pet’s coat in one bath. If your cat is skunked, bring it straight to the groomer or directly to your tub/sink with special de-skunking treatment; do not wet your cat in an effort to remove the skunk smell, as water will simply set the smell in. The process we use to help remove skunk odor is to rub baking soda into the dry coat of a cat in order to absorb as much of the skunk oil as possible before bathing. We then use a degreaser called Chubbs bar soap (formulated for pets) to degrease and remove the smell and scrub your kitty clean.


Whether your cat is hairless or a furball, on your couch or hanging out in your yard, there may be times when they need to see a groomer. It is important to choose the right groomer where both you and your cat feel comfortable and safe. Understanding that cats are sensitive creatures and that there are varying options for getting them clean will give you the power to decide what is best for you and your family. The Long Leash gives Roch & Gertrude two clean, manicured paws up!! Thank you, Leanne, for sharing your expertise with us! Enjoy glancing at Roch & Gertrude’s Treatment Menu, including such divine treatment options as SOOTHE, NOURISH, HEAL, UNWIND, PURIFY, SPOIL, and the aptly-named, STINK.

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  • Reply Kelly July 6, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Bathing my cats is not something I’ve ever considered. Having said that, I have seen some cats get bathed and they seem to enjoy it but I would imagine this is something that would have to be started at a very young age so that they become accustomed to it. I do however brush, comb and even clip my long hair cat and he does enjoy that!

  • Reply Nichole July 6, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Well, we don’t have a cat…but dogs need to be bathed. Deskunking is NO fun!

  • Reply Beth Patterson July 6, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    I didn’t realize that cats tolerate and maybe even enjoy baths! Our cat is pretty old and sometimes I give him a waterless bath, but I’m wondering if it is enough. He doesn’t groom himself that well.

  • Reply Ruth Epstein July 6, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    I never ever bathed my cats when I had them as at the time 20+ years ago the vet said not to plus they were indoor only so thanks for teaching me something

  • Reply Christine Caplan July 6, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    My older dog was skunked when we were out on a hike and it was AWFUL!! We actually used tomato juice and then about five baths. It was SUCH an ordeal. I’ll keep the above saved as anything is better than what we tried. Thanks for adding this to your list.

  • Reply sherri July 6, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    I’ve been told not to bath cats unless there is a reason like mats or skunk. Also, this might be just me, but without clear paragraphs and breaks I find this difficult to read, especially online.

  • Reply Tenacious Little Terrier July 6, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    We have some groomers here in Portland who specialize in cat grooming!

  • Reply Sweet Purrfections July 6, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    My previous Persian received regular baths at a local groomer who owned Persians and knew how to work with them. When I moved away, I couldn’t find a groomer who knew how to work with cats. I don’t clip or shave my Persians because I love their fur. However, I must work on them daily to maintain their coats. I haven’t had to give them too many baths yet, but they do hate it. I wish I could find a groomer who knew how to work with Persians without shaving them and knew how to help them relax.

  • Reply Elizabeth Copeland July 6, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    My boss’ cat used to receive regular grooming, but had to be sedated. I’m sure that cats need a clean up every so often, but their grooming sounds a bit more complicated than my Dexter dog’s.

  • Reply The Daily Pip July 7, 2016 at 3:49 am

    My cats would probably never forgive me if I tried to give them a bath. They are all strictly indoor cats so no worries about skunks. I know a few cats at the shelter where I volunteer have had baths for various reasons, but they sure haven’t been happy about it.

  • Reply Cathy Armato July 7, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Very interesting, I never bathed any of my cats, but would sometimes wioe them down with a damp cloth. I didn’t realize some long or thick coated cats may even need their fur cut,!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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