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Do Long-Haired Cats Need Baths? Vet Approved Grooming Advice

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

gray cat newly bathe

Do Long-Haired Cats Need Baths? Vet Approved Grooming Advice


Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo


Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Most felines are notorious for disliking getting wet, so bathing a cat might seem challenging. The good news is that most cats rarely need baths! But what if you have a long-haired cat? With all that hair, do they require baths?

Long-haired cats shouldn’t need to be bathed often, as they are excellent at keeping themselves clean. In fact, bathing a long-haired cat can actually cause the fur to become knotty and matted, so you’re best off keeping them on solid ground. However, there may also be occasions when a long-haired cat gets extremely dirty and requires a bath.

Here’s what you should know about long-haired cats and baths.

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Do Long-Haired Cats Need Baths?

Mostly, long-haired cats don’t need baths any more than short-haired cats, and in fact, the opposite is usually true. That long coat stops dirt and grime from penetrating down to the skin, so most long-haired cats will come up nice and clean with a good brushing. If you are wanting to get that just-shampooed look and smell, try a waterless shampoo or wet wipes to remove any surface dirt and keep them smelling amazing. Detangling sprays are also a great accompaniment to a long-haired cat grooming session.

An effective waterless shampoo like Hepper's Cucumber & Aloe No Rinse Shampoo can help you keep your pets clean and healthy. We love this shampoo because it's easy to use, pH-balanced to avoid irritation, and moisturizing. Keep your pet's skin and coat soft and clean with this USA-made shampoo that is free of soap, gluten, synthetic dyes, and more!

Hepper Waterless No Rinse Dry Shampoo for Dogs,...
  • Simply Brush - Waterless cat shampoo / dog shampoo means no rinsing required. Forget the bath!...
  • No Soap - This fresh-smelling dry shampoo for dogs and cats is free from soaps, glutens, dyes, DEA,...
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At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

How Do I Bathe a Long-Haired Cat?

Some cats have a nose for mischief, and if you find yourself faced with a filthy feline, you may need to brace yourself and give your cat a bath.

Here are a few tips for bathing a long-haired cat.
  • Before you try your first bath, get your feline friend used to the bathroom, sink, or tub. Try putting a little water in the sink or tub and encourage them to play with it (you can even toss some toys in!).
  • Gather everything you need for a bath before you start, like shampoo and conditioner designed for felines, and towels. Make sure they are all within your reach, but not easily knocked over. You will need at least two towels; one for the first dry, then others to keep on drying.
  • Be sure you brush your pet beforehand to get rid of as many mats and tangles as possible, as this is more difficult to accomplish with wet hair.
  • Play with your kitty before a bath to help them get rid of some energy. A tired cat can be easier to handle during bath time.
  • Close the bathroom door before starting the bath, so your cat can’t escape.
  • If you have a handheld showerhead, use that to bathe your pet instead of putting them in water (just make sure it isn’t on a high setting; you want a gentle rain feel). You can also use cups to pour water (gently!) over them. Avoid getting water over the face or in the ears.
  • If you’re unable to bathe your kitty in this way, then fill the tub or sink with a few inches of warm (not hot!) water. Ideally, you want the water to come to just above their belly; if it’s too shallow, you’ll have trouble getting them wet and rinsing shampoo. Plus, if they think they have a chance of getting away without getting wet, they will struggle even harder. Most of the time, once your cat is completely wet, they tend to accept their fate!
  • Give your cat plenty of reassurance and praise while bathing them.
  • Only use a small amount of shampoo!
  • Stay calm while bathing your pet. Felines can easily pick up on emotions like stress, and if your cat feels you’re stressed, they’ll become stressed, too.
  • Once your cat is clean, use the towels to dry them off. Many cats are scared of hair dryers, so use the towels to dry them off as best as possible. If your pet isn’t afraid of the hair dryer, you can set it to low heat to dry them.
  • Because wet fur is more likely to become knotted or tangled, use a detangling spray and comb out the fur as it dries.
  • If your pet seems severely distressed by the bath, stop and let them go. Forcing them through something that’s causing an overwhelming amount of stress will be traumatic for your cat.
  • And, if all else fails, take your cat to the groomer to be bathed.
Image Credit: Sviatoslav Shevchenko, Shutterstock

Can I Keep My Long-Haired Cat Clean Without Baths?

Regular brushing is the best way to do this, particularly for long-haired cats. Long-haired cats require regular brushing (at least once a day is advisable) to help keep their coats from tangling and matting. Brushing also gets rid of dead fur and stimulates the natural oils of your cat’s skin, which leaves their coat looking healthier. Plus, getting rid of all that dead hair means your cat is swallowing less fur when they groom themselves, which can help decrease the number of hairballs they get.

Keeping your cat’s face clean by cleaning their ears and wiping around the eyes (especially if they have runny eyes) will also help.

If you are looking for recommendations on the best cat brush, you should check out Hepper Cat Brush. You will hardly find different brush with so many pros - easy to clean, easy to use, durable and effective. Simply everything you need from a cat brush. Click here to order yours today.

Hepper Deshedding Cat Brush
  • ONE PUSH RELEASE - This kitten brush / cat brush pops out fur with just a simple press, leaving you...
  • DURABLE - Cat shedding can be a tough ordeal. Made of resilient ABS plastic and metal bristles with...
  • COMFORTABLE - A cat fur brush with 60 degree angled, fine bristles and rubber stoppers will bring...

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

What if My Long-Haired Cat is Really Matted?

It’s quite common for long-haired cats to get little dreadlocks, and these can quickly turn into big dreadlocks. If you are dealing with smaller knots, you can try using a good detangling comb or even some pet clippers to cut the knotted fur away. Be really careful when using clippers, as cat skin is quite fragile, and many kitties have needed stitches after an ill-fated grooming session. Never use scissors. If your cat has a really matted coat, you are probably best going to your vet or a groomer to have them clipped. Sometimes cats need a sedation to have their whole body clipped, so keeping on top of grooming is the best way to avoid this.

If your cat is not used to being brushed, start out with a soft bristled brush to get them used to the sensation, without risk of pulling the fur. Once they are accustomed to being brushed, you can introduce a more effective detangling brush to tackle small knots and keep on top of shedding hair. Grooming mitts are a great way to sneak in some grooming without them noticing!

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Final Thoughts

Long-haired cats don’t necessarily require baths, but on occasion, they may need to take the plunge. Because wet hair is more likely to tangle, it is much better to stick to brushing as your grooming mainstay for your long-coated feline, using products like dry shampoo or detangling spray to help get through any knots and keep them smelling fresh.

If you have a long-haired cat in the family, or are thinking of getting one, get them used to being brushed on a regular basis, preferably from a very young age. Teach them to associate a brush with treats and kind words, so that you can maintain their coat without claws and recriminations.

Featured Image Credit: KDdesignphoto, Shutterstock

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