Cats have a reputation as vain animals due to the amount of time they spend grooming. The average cat will spend much of its day cleaning itself. This means that felines like to stay clean.
Cats do everything they can to stay clean. A cat will regularly bathe itself using saliva. This keeps a cat’s fur clean and unscented. Cats will also clean up after eliminating and hide any waste. This is only possible if the cat is capable of self-grooming, so overweight and arthritic cats may lack sufficient flexibility and mobility.
A clean, sleek fur coat and absence of scent is usually the sign of a happy feline. Sick cats can lose interest in grooming. If you care for your cat well, it should be clean and largely undetectable. If your cat is looking unkempt or dirty, there is usually a good reason why.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Are Cats Clean Pets?
- 2 How Do Cats Clean Themselves?
- 3 How Clean are Cats’ Mouths?
- 4 Are Cats Clean After Pooping?
- 5 How to Keep Cats Clean
- 6 Are Houses with Cats Dirty?
Are Cats Clean Pets?
Cats are widely considered to be the cleanest of all major domestic pets. This is because cats are passionate about grooming and self-care. Cats loathe feeling dirty. This includes emitting clear and unmistakable scents.
The reason cats are so dedicated to grooming is not born of vanity. Instead, it is a survival instinct. Cats are mesopredators. They hunt smaller prey, but acknowledge they are not at the top of the food chain. This means cats like to remain invisible.
The main way a cat achieves this is by grooming. The cleaner a cat is, the less likely it is to release a scent. This, in turn, makes a cat difficult to track. You’ll notice that wild and feral cats typically look immaculate. These felines have learned to make themselves invisible.
You may need to clean your cat on occasion. If an outdoor cat gets particularly filthy, it may need a bath. You may also need to periodically clean your cat with wet wipes. Unless your cat is old or immobile, this should only be a sporadic requirement.
Are Cats Cleaner Than Dogs?
In many respects, this depends on the cat or dog in question. Some dogs are very particular about grooming and cleanliness. Equally, you may have a rare cat that is indifferent to hygiene. As a rule, though, cats are cleaner than dogs. There are four main reasons for this.
- Cats spend more time indoors. A dog on a walk will be exposed to mud, puddles and other elemental dirt
- Dogs are larger animals and typically less concerned by predators. Canines are less driven to mask their presence
- Dogs often require regular showering and professional grooming. Cats are happier to clean themselves
- Cats eliminate indoors and hide the evidence. Dogs pee and poop outside, rarely stopping to clean themselves straight afterward
It’s possible that a dog owner will claim that their canine is cleaner than any cat. The differences between these species can reflect their owners’ preferences. If cleanliness is a significant factor in choosing a pet though, cats are a superior option.
Are Cats Cleaner Than Humans?
In some respects, cats are cleaner than humans. This is based exclusively on the quantity of grooming. Cats spend up to half their day cleaning themselves. Humans typically limit showering or bathing to once or twice a day.
There are fundamental differences, though. While we take a shower or bath, we will use a range of cosmetics. Shower gels, soaps and anti-perspirants all serve to keep humans clean through the day.
Cats lack the luxury of these products. Hence, they need to groom with greater frequency. Cat saliva can be a powerful cleaning agent. It only goes so far, though. In addition, humans wear clothing to protect our skin from scents and staining. Cat fur is exposed all day.
The other big difference is oral health. As humans, we brush our teeth a minimum of twice a day. Cats do not. This means that cats may have food remnants in their mouth at any given time. As we will discuss shortly, cats require aide in maintaining oral cleanliness.
How Do Cats Clean Themselves?
Few cats will take a dip in water if they can help it. This means that cats will not enjoy showers or baths. Instead, a cat’s primary method of staying clean its own saliva.
A cat’s tongue contains hollow papillae comparable to a hairbrush. Saliva is trapped within these papillae. The cat will lick its paws, transferring the saliva. The cat will then rub its paws all over itself. In doing so, the saliva is spread evenly.
This serves multiple purposes in keeping a cat clean. The first is simple – saliva is akin to bathing with water. It may not sound hygienic by human standards, but it works for a cat. Saliva also cools a cat down on a hot day. This keeps the cat from overheating and sweating.
In addition, this saliva and friction evenly distribute oils around a cat’s fur. This means that skin oils cannot build up in one location. If this occurs, a cat’s fur starts to look matted and greasy. In addition, the cat will start to smell quite strongly.
If your cat is no longer grooming, investigate why. Healthy cats rarely lose interest in staying clean. Your cat is likely sick, physically incapable of grooming, or has grown complacent. Each of these eventualities must be managed.
Constant grooming is equally undesirable. The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery links excessive cleaning to stress in cats. If your cat grooms at the expense of eating, playing and sleeping, something is amiss. As with all things pertaining to feline health, balance is key.
How Clean are Cats’ Mouths?
Cat mouths are the one part of the anatomy that is not clean as standard. Cats do not brush their teeth after meals. This means that food will linger and rot within the mouth. This leads to bacteria. This, invariably, will cause gum disease in the cat.
In addition, these bacteria can be harmful to humans. Bear this in mind if you like to show affection for your by kissing it.
To minimize the bacteria in a cat’s mouth, brush its teeth regularly. Most cats will resist this practice, at least initially. It is intrusive and potentially painful. It can save a lot of future discomfort, though. It will also delay the necessity of a professional tooth cleaning.
A cat’s teeth should be brushed at least once a week. Head to a pet store and pick up a cat-specific toothbrush. These are an appropriate size for feline mouths and contain softer bristles.
You must also buy specialist feline toothpaste. This will come in a flavor that appeals to cats. In addition, the fluoride found in human toothpaste is toxic to cats. If your cat refuses brushing, consider mouth-cleaning treats. These are less effective, but better than nothing.
How Clean are Cats’ Tongues?
If your cat has ever licked you, you may have recoiled in surprise. A cat’s tongue is notably hairy. This is because the tongue is covered in tiny bristles. These are the papillae.
These papillae trap all manner of foreign objects on a cat’s tongue. This includes food shreds and shed fur. If a cat hunts rodents or birds, blood, feathers or bone may remain on the papillae. This, naturally, means that a cat’s tongue is rarely completely clean.
Do not refuse a lick from your cat. This is a significant sign of feline affection that should be embraced. Just avoid letting a cat lick any open cuts. Forget the myth that cat saliva is a natural salve for human wounds. You’re likelier to grow sick than heal faster.
Are Cats Clean After Pooping?
Cats are usually careful to clean up after elimination. When a cat poops, it will bury the waste in litter. This is a survival instinct, similar to the act of grooming. The cat does not want a potential predator to know it was nearby. Poop can be a giveaway.
If a cat has a healthy diet, it should release firm stools. These will require limited cleaning and maintenance afterward. The cat will clean its own bottom using its tongue, though. Cats love to play with toilet paper, but do not use it for its intended purpose.
If you notice dry feces around your cat’s bottom, clean it manually at once. The cat will not enjoy this sensation. The cat’s strong sense of smell will detect the waste. It will likely run around the home, trying to shake it off.
Learn why this happening. You may need to shave the fur around your cat’s bottom. Check the litter is not dirty. The cat may sit in old feces. Alternatively, review your cat’s diet. It may be enduring loose stools that dry around the anus.
Dirty bottoms in cats are not just unsightly; they’re hazardous. As per the Journal of Parasitology, cats can shed Toxoplasma gondii cysts in waste. This leads to toxoplasmosis. This dangerous condition can cause blindness in children and pregnant women.
How to Keep Cats Clean
Cats will typically look after their own cleaning needs. There may come times that you need to step in, though. This is particularly likely in senior cats. If your cat has endured surgery, or is unwell, it may also need help staying clean.
Keep your cat’s weight under control is key to keeping it clean. If your cat is carrying excess weight, it will struggle to groom itself. It cannot contort itself sufficiently. This leads to dirt growing trapped in the fur. The cat will also struggle to clean itself after elimination.
The standard weight for a house cat is circa 10 lbs. This does not take the breed of cat into consideration, though. A healthy feline of large stature, such as the Maine Coon, can weigh up to 18l bs. A Munchkin cat should never reach 10 lbs.
You will always be able to tell if your cat is overweight. Just take a look. If the cat is not capable of cleaning itself, it will stop trying. This will lead to messy, dirty and unkempt fur. The cat may also have a messy bottom. Both of these issues are dangerous.
Your cat will need to lose weight. This reduces risk of diabetes or heart disease and restores a cat’s ability to clean itself. Restricting food intake remains the most impactful way to achieve this. Substitute food for other activities that provoke pleasure, such as play.
You’ll need to remain determined. As discussed by the Journal of Nutrition, many owners fail to complete a dietary course. Your cat will likely cry and beg for food. Find ways to distract it, for the sake of the cat’s personal hygiene.
As your cat grows older, arthritis becomes increasingly likely. Most cats older than 10 will experience some level of degenerative joint disease. Unfortunately, as per Veterinary Surgery, this is not always identifiable by scans. Instead, look for these symptoms:
- Reluctance to move, especially running and jumping
- Eliminating outside the litter box
- Aggression when touched
- Loss of interest in play or hunting
An arthritic cat will find grooming difficult and painful. You will need to manage this discomfort and keep your cat as supple as possible. Ways to achieve this include:
- Massage of the joints
- Supplements from a pet store
- Low-sided litter trays for easy access
- Soft beds and cushions to aid relaxation and sleep
- Warmth on joints to ease stiffness and discomfort
- Painkilling medications prescribed by a vet
There is no cure for arthritis. Over time, your cat will struggle more and more with mobility. This means that you’ll need to aid with grooming. The more manageable your cat’s arthritis pain is, though, the more self-care it can practice.
As cats grow older, you’ll need to help out with grooming from time to time. Do not consider this a chore. Instead, use it as a way to boost your bond with your cat. There can be a thin line between petting and grooming. Your cat also appreciates the help in staying clean.
Every once in a while, run some wet wipes over your cat’s fur. These must be unscented and devoid of chemicals. You can purchase cat-specific wet wipes from a pet store. Those designed for human babies are equally effective though, and usually cheaper.
In addition to wet wipes, brush your cat’s fur regularly. This will remove any excess hair in a manageable way. Most cats will welcome this attention. Follow the instructions that we previously outlined. Your cat will start purring in no time, and likely ask for brushing.
Cats are creatures of habit. If you bring assisted grooming into your cat’s routine, it will not resist. In fact, the cat will start approaching you. After play and food is the best time to assist with grooming. This is typically when a cat will like to get clean and take a nap.
Just remember; you are assisting a cat’s own grooming. Do not replace a cat’s own grooming habits unless necessary due to health restraints. Do not allow a cat to grow compliment and neglect its own self-care. Cats should remain as independent as possible.
Does My Cat Need a Bath?
Most cats will never need a bath. A healthy, happy cat will clean itself. If you top this up with wet wipes, you’ll usually be OK. This is a relief, as many cats loathe water. Bath time will be ferociously resisted.
Sometimes, a bath may be unavoidable. If your cat rolled in dirt, or neglects grooming for prolonged periods, bathing is the only option. In such an instance, prepare yourself ahead of time.
You need to take a trip to the pet store. You need a cat-specific shampoo. Felines have delicate skin. Shampoo for humans, or even other species of animal, will upset this natural pH. You should also ensure you have at least two warm, fluffy towels.
Enlist somebody to help you. Bathing a cat is not easy. Your cat will likely bite, scratchy, and squirm to avoid water. Two pairs of hands will be useful. One of you can restrain the cat while the other completes the bathing.
Run a bowl or sink of warm (not hot) water and lower your cat inside. Gently massage shampoo and water into the fur. Take as long as you need, but do not prolong the experience unnecessarily.
When the bath is complete, remove your cat an immediately wrap it in a warm towel. A bath lowers a cat’s body temperature. You need to get it back up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit urgently. Dry your cat off and reward it for tolerating the bath.
Are Houses with Cats Dirty?
Keeping a cat in a home should not lead to a dirty home. Cats like to remain invisible. A messy, dirty or smelly house is usually due to human inaction. If you manage litter, shedding and scent, a cat’s presence in your home can go unnoticed.
Steps can – and should – be taken to keep a house clean. A cat will take care of many of its own cleaning needs. You will still need to step up, though. Cats do not have control over matters pertaining to hygiene. Two factors, in particular, need your attention.
Managing your cat’s use of a litter tray is key to keeping your house clean. It is considered an advantage of cat ownership that felines eliminate indoors. It’s preferable to taking the cat out in the rain whenever it needs to go. The tray must be cleaned, though.
This means changing cat litter every other day, at a bare minimum. Daily is ideal. At the very least, scoop and shuffle the litter multiple times a day. This will prevent it from clumping. Cats also prefer to use a clean litter box.
This will also prevent your cat from treading waste through the home. Dirty litter will stick to a cat’s paws. This will then be tracked into your carpet and soft furnishings. This is obviously unsanitary, and it is easily avoided.
Be careful about overfilling litter, too. After a cat eliminates, it digs to bury the evidence. If there is too much litter in the tray, it will be kicked over the floor. Typically, two to three inches of litter is optimum. If the problem persists, consider a hooded litter box.
Cats shed fur in the spring. Shedding is a natural reaction to a cat’s circadian rhythms. Longhaired cats will typically shed more, but all felines experience the phenomena.
When a cat’s body detects an absence of natural light, it assumes that winter is coming. This will encourage the cat to grow additional fur. This is to the cat stays warm when temperatures plummet outside. This helps retain a consistent body temperature all year.
As days go longer and spring arrives, the cat no longer this needs this extra fur. As a result, it will start to shed. This will happen organically throughout the spring. You can help keep it under control by brushing your cat’s fur, though.
While your cat is shedding, vacuum regularly. Invest in a specialist hoover designed for homes with pets. These appliances will have attachments and suction prowess designed for animal fur. You may also want to consider covering your furnishings.
Be mindful of any visitors to your home with feline allergies, too. This fur contains dead skin cells, aka dander. Dander is what sparks an allergic reaction. As the cat cannot control its shedding, you’ll need to manage exposure.
Cats are, by their nature, clean animals. If a cat is willfully dirty or smelly, there will be an explanation. Keep an eye on your cat. If it spends around half its day grooming, and looks sleek and clean, all is fine. If it ceases grooming, consider any possible health concerns.