Can I Bathe My Cat After Vaccination?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: May 13, 2018
Can I Bathe My Cat After Vaccination?

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If you have vaccinated your cat, the first thing you can do is congratulate yourself. You have helped your cat to build its immunity against potentially lethal diseases and stop certain pathologies from spreading. Many of these diseases are passed on due to cats living in unhygienic circumstances. Much of this can be avoided, although some bacterial, fungal or viral infections can occur even to those who are careful with their pet's environment.

Even though your cat has been vaccinated, you may be unsure of how long you need to wait until your cat can be bathed. However, this is only a consideration if you have a genuine need to bathe your cat in the first place. In most cases, you will not. If you want to know can you bathe a cat after vaccination?, AnimalWised shows you that yes you can, but you probably won't need to. In the rare circumstances that you do, we'll show you how to bathe them safely after vaccination.

Vaccinating cats

Our cats are susceptible to a variety of diseases throughout their lives. When they are born, they spend their time in the protection of their mother. Hopefully during this time they are kept away from potential pathogens which would lead to illness. After this time, they must interact with a world which often puts them at risk of ill health. Some of these diseases are fatal, all can put their general well-being at risk. This is why the advent of vaccinations for cats has been so positive in our pet's lives.

As a very basic explanation, vaccines work by presenting the organism with a part of the virus or disease. It is such a small amount it will not harm the host, but it will trigger the immune system which will create antibodies to fight the pathogen. These antibodies are stored in the cat's immunological memory. This means that when/if the cat is attacked by these pathogens in the future, the body is able to attack it directly and prevent it from causing illness. These vaccinations may differ depending on the prevalent diseases of a certain area, but they will need to be put onto a vaccination schedule.

A vaccination schedule exists because cats cannot be inoculated against all the diseases to which they may be susceptible in one go. Instead, they need to be spaced out to be effective and maintain the cat's health. Most vets will say that a cat will need a yearly booster shot, but this has been disputed, especially in the case of housecats. However, booster shots are generally recommended as a more thorough means of inoculation.

Due to how vaccinations work on the immune system of the cat, it can put a certain amount of stress on them. As the body creates the antibodies it can make the cat a little weak and perhaps more tired than usual. The stress of taking a cat to the vet for these vaccinations may also weaken them or cause upset. This process of putting them into a carrier, driving them in a car, taking them to a strange environment with other animals, being handled by strangers and then punctured with a needle can be traumatic.

Some may be fine when they return home, others may hide due to being upset. In rarer cases, vaccinations may also have some side effects on our cat. This could be in the form of a slight fever or lethargy up to three weeks after the vaccination. All these factors should be considered when asking how long to wait after vaccination before bathing a cat.

Can I Bathe My Cat After Vaccination? - Vaccinating cats

Bathing cats

In general, cats do not need to be bathed. This is because they are naturally very clean animals. They groom themselves with their tongue on a daily basis and avoid situations where they would get dirty. For most cats, this process is sufficient to maintain excellent hygiene. In turn, this means cats do not need a human to bathe them unless there are mitigating circumstances. What these mitigating circumstances might are difficult to determine. The two main ones, however, are being dirtied by something which cannot be removed by licking alone and those which are potentially toxic to the cat if ingested via licking.

Can you bathe a kitten?

If you have just adopted a kitten, it should have been with its mother for a minimum of two months. Their mother will take the lead in terms of grooming and cleaning. You should not bathe them yourself as they are in a vulnerable state with compromised immunity. However, if for some reason you have found a kitten before this time (perhaps due to abandonment), you may need to bathe them if they have potential hazards on their coat. This is only to be done if absolutely necessary as the process of bathing can spread bacteria.

Bathing an adult cat

Although some breeds are more fond of water than others, they don't generally care for them. Even touching their body with water can be stressful. Setting them in water can be panic inducing. This means even getting to the stage where you would apply soap or shampoo will be difficult. They may be likely to lash out or try to run and hide. As a side note, it is important to remember that cats need shampoo specifically designed for felines.

Unless our cat actually enjoys the bathing process, we should no bathe our cat. Not only is it additional stress, it is unnecessary and removes natural oils from their skin which protect it from conditions such as dermatitis. Before you ask can I bathe my cat after vaccination, ask yourself should you be doing it. If the answer is that you have no other choice but to wash them, you can look at our article on how to bathe a cat properly for the first time.

Unless they have been doused in hazardous substances, most cleaning of cats can be localized. This means taking a damp cloth and cleaning the area where they are dirty. Gently wash the area and be sure to calm your cat as you do this. You can even find some dry shampoo for cats which completely avoid wetting your kitty in the first place.

Can I Bathe My Cat After Vaccination? - Bathing cats

Vaccinations and bathing cats

You can bathe a cat on the same day as you have your cat vaccinated. However, there are two reasons why you shouldn't:

  • The stress of being vaccinated has made it an already difficult day for your cat. Adding to this stress is only likely to exacerbate it.
  • They don't need it.

Maintaining your cat's health and well-being has little to do with bathing. Completing vaccination and deworming schedules and ensuring they have environmental enrichment are much more important. Leaving your cat to clean themselves is the most natural and appropriate way for maintaining their hygiene.

Also, if your cat is sick, then bathing is not ideal. To understand why, you can check out our article on can you give a sick cat a bath?

Can I Bathe My Cat After Vaccination? - Vaccinations and bathing cats

If you want to read similar articles to Can I Bathe My Cat After Vaccination?, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

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