Do Maine Coons need baths?

'Possibly' is the best answer I can provide. Gloria Stephens, the author of Legacy of the Cat and a former (current?) all-breed judge for the American Cat Association plus a 'devoted breeder of cats' and an owner of Norwegian Forest Cats, Oriental Shorthairs and Maine Coons says:

"The Maine's coat does require regular combing and bathing in order to prevent it from matting".

I defer to her greater knowledge and experience. I guess we all should, but I don't believe that a Maine Coon needs to be bathed regularly or at all to prevent matts. But there is no doubt that they do need combing and brushing like all longhaired domestic cats to stop the coat tangles.

Maine Coon being groomed
Maine Coon being groomed but not bathed. Image: Pixabay.

I would avoid bathing your Maine Coon unless you really have to do it for health reasons but not to prevent matts, but that said Ms Stephens is very experienced. We differ in opinion on this. Perhaps the decision to bathe or not a Maine cat depends on the character of the cat concerned. If a Maine Coon strongly dislikes being bathed (unusual?) don't do it as it is not absolutely necessary.

One experienced Maine Coon owner who makes videos says that Maine Coons become smelly unless they are bathed a few times a year. I find that interesting as it does not apply to shorthaired cats. However, once again I'd defer to her greater experience.

However, bathing removes the natural oils deposited by the sebaceous glands in the skin. These oils up on the hair shafts and keep the coat silky and waterproof. Remove the oils and temporarily the cat is in less good condition.

Also, in bathing a cat you temporarily remove their identity as recognised by other cats in their body scent. Other cats in the home are likely to no longer recognise a bathed cat even when they are best buddies.

But these problems are all temporary, so no big deal. I guess there is another downside. The owner has to do it! That's work and their cat won't normally like being bathed. They may object to it strenuously. That's more work and not great for the relationship.

However, the general view is that Maine Coons either don't mind getting completely wet or submerged in water. It is said that Maine cats even like water. But this is likely to apply to some individual cats and not the entire breed. Bathing a Maine cat might be no problem and could even be a pleasure for the cat.

Normally, I don't think any domestic cat NEEDS bathing unless it is an emergency and something nasty is deposited on the coat for whatever reason. It might be something unpleasant such as paint or grease. You might have to submerge your cat in a full bath. Fair enough. That would be a genuine reason, but you don't need to bath a cat to prevent matting.

I believe that Gloria Stephens' opinion may be coloured by the fact that cat breeders who show their cats have the habit of bathing their longhaired show cats to enhance their beauty to make the coat really fluffy and stunning. Breeders of show cats don't see a problem in bathing cats.

However, the reason is to improve the appearance and not to prevent or removed matts. That is the picture. You take your pick and make your choice.

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