The skin and coat/hair of your pet cat offers a highly accurate indication of their health. A cat that has a fine sheen of coat usually means good health. On the flipside, if your cat exhibits a flaxy and unkempt coat this might mean that there is an underlying health problem to be concerned with. Veterinarians will actually use your cat’s current skin and coat appearance as the initial factor to consider when determining your pet’s health.
Benefits of Healthy Skin and Coat for Cats
You should also consider some key benefits your pet will gain from having a healthy-looking fur and skin. Some benefits of keeping your cat’s skin and coat healthy are listed below:
- Better Immunity – The skin is one of the most important defensive barriers any living organisms have against bacteria and infection. A skin that has been compromised or unhealthy is basically an open floodgate for diseases to easily waltz into the body with barely any resistance.
- Protection from Injury – Your pet’s skin and coat can also act as a physical defensive barrier from outside physical threats. The skin of your cat is also hypersensitive to change in temperature and pressure. This allows them to avoid physical threats better. If their skin is at a deteriorated state, their senses will also take a huge hit and might stop them from preventing an otherwise avoidable injury.
- Improved Hydration – have you noticed how your pet (either cat or dog) does not seem to sweat? Well, this is because dogs and cats do not have any sweat glands. This is why it is imperative to ensure that their skin is in tip-top condition. An unhealthy skin will cause them to be more susceptible to being dangerously dehydrated which will cause them to become lethargic and slow down their metabolism. A healthy skin means they can remain hydrated better for longer durations of time.
- Nutrition Bank – The skin also acts as storage for essential nutrients to keep your pet healthy. For example, both dogs and cats’ hair are made up primarily of protein. The skin provides the hair’s daily dose of protein which could reach up to 35% of their total daily protein intake. Other nutrients present in your pet’s skin include Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, copper, zinc, selenium, and manganese.
Maintaining Your Cat’s Skin and Coat Health
One of the key factors that affect your pet’s skin and the coat is their diet. You should always opt for foods that offer high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and an assortment of vitamins and minerals. If your pet appears to have excessively dry skin then you should increase their linoleic acid intake.
Linoleic acid can be found in corn, flaxseed, soy, and nuts. Zinc is important for maintaining your cat’s lush coat and it also helps maintain moisture in the body. To help ensure your cat’s metabolism is optimized, you might want to include a healthy dose of B vitamins and biotin.
You can find these in food but also in several pet care products such as cat shampoo. However, as you would expect, cats do not require to be bathed as much as dogs. Now then, let us head into further detail about bathing your pet cat, shall we?
How Often Should I Bathe My Cat?
While popular belief dictates otherwise, cats will greatly benefit from bathing every once in a while. However, determining how often you need to bathe your cat will require you to consider several factors first. Before you decide how frequent you need to bathe your cat, you must first ask the following questions:
Is your cat an indoor or outdoor cat?
If you have a cat that tends to wander about outdoors a lot then they will need to bathe more often compared to a strictly indoor cat. For obvious reasons, these cats are more susceptible to the dirt and grime outside. Outdoor cats also tend to ‘relieve’ themselves more often than indoor cats. If you have noticed your cat starting to have an unpleasant smell or is starting to look dirty, you can bathe them then.
Is your cat active?
Similar to us humans, cats who are more physically active will need to bathe more often than cats who tend to lounge around most of the time. Physical activity will increase the total accumulated dirt and grease found in your cats’ skin and fur. Hence, the need for bathing more often.
What is your cat’s coat length?
A cat’s coat length will also factor in when it comes to the frequency of bathe they need. Cats who have longer coats will need more maintenance than felines with shorter coats. Cats with long coats are more susceptible to tangles and getting matted. However, before you decide on bathing your cat you should first try to see if you can fix these tangles and matting by brushing.
How often does your cat groom themselves?
Not all cats groom themselves the same way or as effective as others. For example, cats who are on the heavyset side are more likely to find it difficult to reach specific parts of their bod. The rear end also tends to be often overlooked by your cat during cleaning.
What is your cat’s current health condition?
If your cat has fleas or has a skin irritation then you might be required to bathe them often during a set period of time. Of course, this will be with the recommendation of a veterinarian. Don’t decide to bathe your cat daily if it is not specifically instructed by an expert as you might exacerbate or cause a different health issue for your cat in the future.
Of course, bathing your cat a couple of times a week is not recommended. If your cat tends to be a bit messy, you can use dry cat shampoo and wipes as alternatives to clean their skin and coat.
Why You Shouldn’t Bathe Your Cat Too Often
Veterinarians agree that it is actually unnecessary to bathe your cat as regular as you would a dog. While bathing them occasionally will help keep them healthy, unless instructed by your vet you should never bathe your cat weekly or a couple of times per week. You might do more harm than good with this mindset.
What are the negative effects of bathing on cat skin and coat?
Basically, cats are naturally good groomers and will rarely require any outside help to keep themselves clean. Bathing your cat too often might cause important minerals to deteriorate from their fur. Cats are also known to be not big fans of water.
While some cats do enjoy splashing around in the water, like the Bengal cat, most will try to avoid getting wet as their life depended on it. Bathing cats who are stressed out by water might cause them to accidentally lash out with their claws which can cause injuries to their owners. They might also panic and injure themselves in the process.
If you plan on bathing your cat for the first time, I highly suggest you take it as slow as possible and let them settle into the sensation of getting wet at their own pace. The best age to introduce your cat to bathing will be when they are about 3 months old as this is the time they would have gotten all the necessary vaccinations already.
Cat breeds with shorter hair are also unlikely to suffer from excessive loose hair problems. These types of cat breeds will usually do fine with the occasional brushing from their owner. They will also require bathing only if they are showing visible signs of dirt on their coat.
What are the negative effects of bathing every day for your cat?
This is actually a big no-no for any cat owner. While you might think this will lead to a cleaner and healthier cat, bathing them every day can lead to some serious health concerns down the line. For one, bathing your cat will essentially cause the nutrients in their fur to decrease. By the time you notice it, your cat’s coat will look dry and flaky.
Some cats are also highly stressed out around water. Stress can be a silent killer for pets which is why it is important not to put them in a highly stressful environment. If your cat is not used to bathing then expect them to become quite hostile during the process.
Cats Are Not Dogs and Do Not Need to be Bathe Regularly
Unlike their canine counterparts, cats are extremely good at grooming themselves. They normally won’t need any help in this aspect, unlike dogs who tend to enjoy playing around in the dirt. Basically, cats are like those finicky individuals who are often described as clean freaks.
While dogs might require bathing twice a week, cats should only be considered for a trip to the bathroom once every 2 months. Especially, if they are indoor cats. The only time your cat will require an increase in frequency when it comes to bathing is when they are nursing an injury, old, or obese.
Cats will get, without a doubt, some benefits from bathing, especially outdoors and long coat breeds. However, don’t expect them to behave as much as dogs during these occasions. The decision about deciding how often you will need to bathe your cat will boil down to the specifics we discussed earlier. You should also keep in mind the recommended frequency of cat bathing is once every month and a half. At the end of the day, it is best to follow the instructions of your vet regarding this process.