Here’s some great advice on whether or not to groom your cat.
Many people say that a cat never has to be bathed. Others, including many veterinarians, take a stronger stand that bathing a cat is a useless exercise since a cat spends almost one-third of its waking hours grooming and bathing itself. I too spent many years of my life believing this folklore but finally the time came to take a dispassionate look at why regular grooming and bathing is a necessity for a domestic companion feline.
Cats in the wild generally shed their coats twice yearly; in the spring to lose the heavy winter undercoat and in autumn in preparation for the “grow- in” of the next winters undercoat. However, since we have domesticated cats and subjected them to air-conditioning in summer and artificial heat in winter, their systems have been confused enough to put them into a constant shedding state.
Another cause for shedding in the companion housecat is any stress situation. Strangers in the house; any disruption in the normal household routine; an illness or any trip to the veterinarian – all of these will cause stress in your cat and will produce episodes of excess shedding. Why is this a problem that requires human intervention?
Cats, by nature will groom themselves. Since a cats tongue has small backward-facing hook-like appendages on its tongue, (this is natures way of allowing the cat to efficiently strip flesh from the bones of prey and also to “comb” its fur), the hair that is loosened by the self-grooming is swallowed since it cannot be spit out. This act of hair swallowing can only have three possible outcomes. Firstly, (if you are lucky) the fur will pass through the cats intestine and exit the cat into the litter pan. This is the best possible outcome for both you and for the cat. Secondly, the fur can cause a mass in the stomach of the cat until it is regurgitated. This is the gray/brown cylindrical mass that you sometimes find on the rug or in your shoe or in the middle of the bed. This outcome is somewhat harder on the human that cleans it up, (sometimes after stepping in it in your bare feet) than on the cat but it still is not good for the cat. Thirdly, sometimes the accumulated fur will for a hard impaction in the intestine or bowel of the cat which will require immediate surgery to save the cats life. Needless to say, this is the most difficult and dangerous result of hair swallowing.
Close encounters (of the skunk kind).
If your cat is an “outdoor” cat, sooner or later he or she will have a run-in with a skunk. If you are considering ever letting the cat into the house after this, you will absolutely need to bathe the cat. There are many other “encounters” that a cat might have which would necessitate bathing. Anything from getting splashed with paint or cleaning substances to climbing up through the fireplace into the chimney would make a bath a necessity.
Another reason for bathing your cat would be if you discovered fleas in its coat. Fleas are not only an aggravating influence for the cat, resulting in the discomfort caused by the itching. They can also be responsible for carrying diseases and parasites which can result in the illness or death of your cat. Fleas, it has been discovered, are also the intermediate host of bubonic plague, (a particularly good reason for not having them in your house).
Most people think that cats are very clean, they have not considered the fact that cats who self- groom are covered with cat-spit.
When a cat grooms itself it covers its fur with saliva. This saliva contains a substance which precipitates out onto the cats fur when it dries. It is this substance which contains the allergen that causes the weeping eyes, sneezing and itching that many people experience when they are exposed to cats. The solution here is quite simple, bathe the cat and you remove the agent which causes the allergic reaction.
What is the solution?
Simply put, groom and bathe your cat. We have a few customers who like the do it yourself pet wash or you can schedule a professional grooming with one of our stylists. The self service pet wash is perfect for the cats that are used to getting a bath, otherwise a professional cat grooming appointment might be your best option.
You might well ask how often it is necessary to perform this task.
Regular brushing and combing should be done on an every day or at the least every-other-day basis. This will keep the amount of shed hair that ends up in your home environment to a minimum. It will also help you to bond with your cat and make it possible to spot potential health problems at an early stage when they are most easily and successfully treated.
How often you bathe your cat will really depend on the circumstances of your individual household. Certainly, if your cat has been exposed to fleas or skunks or has been up the chimney an immediate bath is in order. If there is someone in the household who is allergic to cat dander it will probably be necessary to bathe the cat once weekly and wipe the fur down with distilled water daily between baths. Finally, if you are bathing your cat as a “routine maintenance” it would be prudent to schedule the bath at the change of seasons, four times yearly.
The bottom line is, if you love your cat, give it a bath. Your cat will be happier, healthier and both of you will have a better quality of life.
Great advice from by Patrick C. Kansoer, Sr. CAH an award-winning lecturer; animal behavior consultant; Companion Animal Acupressurist; Companion Animal Massage Therapist; Companion Animal Bach Flower Remedy Practitioner. He is an author and publisher of books and videotapes on pet care.