Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Kitty in the Tub! - Groomer to Groomer

Kitty's Korner

Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Kitty in the Tub!

Before we can discuss the suds and bubbles of shampoo, we must first combat the myth of cats hating water. Many people do not believe getting a cat wet is a good idea.

The reality is that many cats love their baths and are eager participants in their regular grooming schedules. 

There are many reasons why cats need baths. Some cats—especially the older kitties—are prone to a buildup of the natural oils the skin produces. These oils give the coat a greasy feeling. The problem comes when the grease buildup prevents the dead coat from sliding off the cat. When that happens, matting begins. Even cats that are brushed weekly will arrive at the point where the grease buildup will become too much and the human caretaker cannot remove the dead coat with a comb or brush. The primary reason a cat “needs” a bath is to keep the buildup of the naturally–occurring oils from causing painful matting and pelting. 

Once a client has experienced a clean cat, they will want their cats to have a bath for multiple reasons. Bathing and drying a cat every four to six weeks greatly reduces the amount of loose coat dropping off the cat and accumulating in the client’s home. And, a freshly–groomed cat smells fabulous. 


Cat litter, debris in the environment and a cat’s natural bodily functions can leave kitty a little stinky. A bath freshens up the cat by removing the dust and debris left on the coat from the litter box. Bathing also rids the feline of any debris they may have on their coat from lying or rolling in their living environment. Some cats like to lie in the dirty laundry, open windows or in sports equipment and pick up the distinctive aroma of their beloved human. A bath does wonders to help keep kitty smelling fresh.

Water baths not only improve the feline’s quality of life by preventing pelting and matting, but also improve the human family’s life by controlling shedding and keeping kitty fresh. A water bath is a win for everyone.

Now, we are ready for the suds and bubbles! In my opinion, there is nothing better than a kitty all “suds’d–up” in a tub. There are many shampoos on the market all advertising something a little different and many marketing specifically for cats. Choosing the best product for you and your business can be a confusing and expensive maze of trial and error. My preferred and go–to shampoo for cats is the bar shampoo with an occasional use of a stronger degreaser. 

Safety is the most important reason that I prefer a bar shampoo. When bathing a cat with a bar shampoo, the bar is always between the cat’s teeth and my hand. It adds an additional barrier for those grumpy cats that prefer not to have a bath. When a cat decides to bite, the bar of shampoo will be closer than my hand for the days I am not fast enough to move out of the way. 

As a house call–groomer, I encounter all water types in one day. Everything from well water to city water to hard, untreated water to homes that over soften their water. I find the bar shampoo is able to give a high–quality finish in all water types for all coat types. A bar shampoo easily travels in a soap container in my wet bag. Additionally, I can store many bars in my vehicle without concern of leakage or heat popping open the caps. In my opinion, there is not a better shampoo for feline house–call groomers. 

In order for the bar shampoo to work properly, the feline’s coat needs to be saturated and the shampoo needs to be worked into the coat with a little water added before the final lather can be worked up. The great news is that many shampoo manufacturers have videos to show you how to best and effectively use their product. It is always a good idea to visit the manufacturer’s website before you use any product. 

Keeping your cat clients on a tight, regular schedule not only makes your job easier, but also prevents grease buildup and the matting and pelting that follow. When you get a new client, or a client has gone too long between grooms, you may need to add a shampoo that is specifically designed to remove grease. When I have these kitties, my first lather is the bar shampoo with the degreaser added, followed by a second lather of the bar shampoo. Adding the second product to my greasiest cats is all that is needed to achieve a stunning finish for these feline coats. 

You may be wondering about conditioner. In my experience, conditioner weighs down the coat. Some of the conditioners I have tried have actually made the coat clumpy and started the matting process sooner. Remember that any residue left on the hair shaft will act as a binding agent and will accelerate the matting process. In my almost ten years of feline–exclusive grooming, I have not found a conditioner that has benefited and maintained or extended the amount of acceptable time between water baths. 

As feline groomers, we will always have to battle the myth that cats hate water. But the reality is that many cats actually enjoy their bubble baths. And, it is up to you to decide which products work best for your business! ✂️

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