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Read About Bathing Cats

You love your cat, but you´re having allergy attacks. You´ve heard that if you bathe your cat regularly, it´ll help you deal with the attacks. But after eyeing those sharp little claws, you wonder if that´s really true or not.

Well, I am very allergic to cat dander as well – talk about a job hazard for a veterinarian – and I can tell when my one of my feline patients has never been bathed. I invariably get itchy eyes within a few minutes of handling the cat. If I do not immediately wash my hands of the dander after handling the cat, then I absentmindedly rub my eyes, which causes such a severe reaction, my eyes almost swell shut. Cat bathed on a regular basis do not affect me like this.

All cats and dogs are allergenic (allergy–causing) to people who are allergic to animals. Cats tend to be more allergenic than dogs for allergic people, although some people are more sensitive to dogs than cats. Contrary to popular belief, there are no "non–allergenic" breeds of dogs or cats; even hairless breeds may be highly allergenic.

This is because glands in the animal´s skin secret tiny allergy triggering proteins, called allergens, that cling to the pet´s fur, but also float into the air. Allergens are also present in the animal´s saliva and urine, and may become airborne when saliva dries on the fur. And we all know how much cats groom themselves.

Bathing your pet on a weekly basis can reduce the level of allergens on fur by as much as 84%. Although products are available that claim to reduce pet allergens when sprayed on the animal´s fur, studies show they are less effective than a weekly bath.

Cats can become accustomed to being bathed. If you have never bathed your cat, check with your veterinarian´s office or a groomer, and ask them if they will teach you how to bathe your cat, so you can get your confidence up!

There are some cats that become extremely vicious when bathed. Mesh cat bags, or cat muzzles will help calm these cats and keep them from hurting you or themselves.

Any good cleansing shampoo formulated for pets will clean you cat´s fur, some even contain ingredients to further reduce allergens.

Sharon E. Anderson, DVM

Sharon E. Anderson, DVM, answers medically-related questions, but will not attempt to diagnose or recommend specific treatments. Her advice is not meant to replace professional care. If your pet is ill, contact your veterinarian immediately.