- What is the Best Shampoo and Conditioner?
- 5 Reasons to Give Your Cat a Bath
- Why You Should Avoid Using a Human Shampoo to Bathe Your Cat
- 5 Components to Look for in a Good Cat Shampoo
- Overall Best Cat Shampoo
- 3 More Top Cat Shampoo Picks
- Frequently Asked Questions
Part of what makes cats an attractive pet is their limited need for extra grooming. Cats groom themselves on a regular basis, so much so that they might never need a bath! If you’ve ever been licked by a cat tongue, you know that it’s powerful enough to free fur of dirt and debris.
Most cats strongly dislike water, and the thought of putting a cat in a bathtub or sink can seem slightly terrifying for everyone involved. However, bathing your cat can be necessary in certain situations, and it can also strengthen the bond between cat and owner.
In this article we discuss why you may need to bathe your cat, and the necessity of using a shampoo created specifically for cats. We also share our top 8 cat shampoo recommendations, which include an option for kittens and a waterless shampoo.
What is the Best Shampoo and Conditioner?
- Earthbath 2-in-1 Light Wild Cherry Conditioning Cat Shampoo
- HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo With Essential Fatty Acids for Cats
- Frisco 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner With Organic Aloe for Cats
- Burt’s Bees Kitten Shampoo
- Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath
- TropiClean Spa Renew Shampoo for Cats
- Skout’s Honor Probiotic Honeysuckle Pet Shampoo
- Vetoquinol Vet Solutions Soap-Free Cat Shampoo
5 Reasons to Give Your Cat a Bath
Cats are appreciated and known for their efficient self-cleaning methods. Our feline friends have evolved to be completely self-sufficient in terms of grooming and maintenance. Their sand paper-like tongues can remove dirt, dander, oil and other debris from their beautiful coats. However, there may be some instances where it becomes necessary to assist your cat in the bathing department:
- They had a run in with a skunk: We hope that you are never faced with a cat who come in contact with a skunk. But in the unfortunate case that you do, you will absolutely need to bathe your cat. Ick.
- You have a senior cat: Senior cats may have a loss of mobility or endurance, making self-cleaning more difficult and tiring. Giving your cat a bath can help lighten their grooming load.
- Your cat is a long hair breed: Cats with long hair require frequent grooming and brushing. Even kitties who are meticulous about self-care can end up with mats in their fur if not maintained well enough.
- Cats with physical ailments: Special needs cats or kitties with other physical ailments may need a bath to assist in their grooming process.
- Your cat rubbed up against something dangerous or toxic: Cats love to rub their heads and bodies upon inanimate objects. If your cat got into paint, chemicals, gum or other toxic items, you will need to bathe them so they aren’t licking the substance.
Since now we know why it’s can be important and necessary to bathe your cat, let’s look into why using a shampoo specifically made for cats is crucial.
Why You Should Avoid Using a Human Shampoo to Bathe Your Cat
There’s a myth floating around that you can “just use regular shampoo or baby shampoo” to bathe your cat or dog. This unfortunate mistake can lead to health issues for your pet, so it’s imperative that you use a shampoo specifically designed for your cat or dog.
Human shampoo is formulated to wash and clean human hair. Obviously there’s a major difference between the minerals and elements needed to wash a human’s hair versus a cat’s hair. Human shampoo may leave you feeling luxurious after a shower, but the fact is, it can easily damage or dry out your cat’s skin. Certain chemicals in a human shampoo can even irritate your cat’s delicate skin and fur, and then you’ll have to deal with a whole different health issue.
5 Components to Look for in a Good Cat Shampoo
Choosing a good cat shampoo can be as difficult as picking out a shampoo for your own hair! With so many options available to you as a cat parent, we’ve compiled a list of components to consider when making your final decision.
- Harmful ingredients: You will first and foremost want to avoid artificial and harmful ingredients in your cat’s shampoo. These include parabens, sulfate, alcohol, phenol and pyrethins.
- Soothing ingredients: On the flip side, some ingredients can be particularly helpful for your cat’s dry and itchy skin. These include oatmeal, aloe vera and avocado oil.
- Appropriate formula: Just as you can choose the best shampoo for your hair care needs, the same can be said for cats. There are several different types of cat shampoo formulas, and we recommend choosing one based on your cat’s needs.
- Won’t wash out flea and tick treatment: If you use a topical flea and tick preventative or treatment, you’ll want to purchase a shampoo that won’t wash it out.
- 2-in-1: If you have a long or curly haired cat, you will want to use a shampoo and conditioner to bathe them. Using a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner combination can cut down on cost and be much more convenient during bath time.
Overall Best Cat Shampoo
- All natural
- Free of parabens and phosphate
- pH balanced
Earthbath has several great cat shampoo options, but we chose this 2-in1 conditioning shampoo as our top pick. It has everything you need to give your cat a gentle, soothing bathe without drying out their skin. Earthbath cat shampoo is formulated with oatmeal, aloe vera and vitamin E to ensure a nourishing bath for your kitty. It’s pH balanced specifically for cats for a healthy bath time experience.
You can use this Earthbath cat shampoo for kitties over 6 weeks old. It’s 100% biodegradable and doesn’t contain any parabens or phosphate. When bath time is over, your feline friend’s coat will emit a soft cherry scent. It’s also cost-effective, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank!
- Helps treat tangled or matted fur
- Leaves your cat’s coat smelling clean
- pH balanced without parabens or phosphates
- Only safe for cats over 6 weeks of age
- May not be the most effective for itchy skin
- Soap free
- Helps control flaking
- Assists in hydrating skin
Runner-Up Best Cat Shampoo: This HyLyt hypoallergenic cat shampoo is a fantastic choice for cats who may be battling dry, itchy skin. Its moisturizing formula is soap-free and contains ingredients which help soothe your kitty’s skin. Essential fatty acids aid in controlling flaking and scaly skin. You don’t have to worry about further drying out of your cat’s skin with this shampoo from HyLyt.
Made with proper pH balance, we like that this cat shampoo won’t strip your cat’s skin of its natural oils. If your cat is sensitive, this is a great hypoallergenic option. HyLyt cat shampoo is made in the USA and effective for cats over 1 year of age.
- Good for cats with sensitive skin
- Helps with dry, itchy skin
- May benefit topical flea and tick treatment
- Made in the USA
- Not recommended for cats younger than 1 year old
- You may need an additional conditioner to help with tangling of fur
- Nourishes coat with essential vitamins
- Made in the USA
- Bathe your cat with a single formula
Most Affordable Cat Shampoo: Bathe your cat in just one step with this cost-effective shampoo from Frisco. Made with pro-vitamin B5 and vitamin E, your cat’s coat is sure to be clean, soft and nourishes after bath time with Frisco. This 2-in-1 combo shampoo also contains coconut, plant-derived cleansers and organic aloe vera.
This cat shampoo is paraben free to ensure a safe, healthy bath for your kitty. The formula is made in the USA, and your cat will be left smelling fresh with the clean scent. We like that this cat shampoo will naturally hydrate your cat’s skin and coat through the use of certified organic aloe vera. For a less stressful and budget-friendly bath experience, we highly suggest Frisco cat shampoo.
- 2-in-1 formula makes bath time easier
- Made in the USA
- Coconut and organic aloe vera to soothe your cat’s skin
- Can be used for dogs also
- No sulfates or colorants
- Soothes and softens skin
- pH balanced
Best Kitten Shampoo: Not all cat shampoos are appropriate for young cats, but this Burt’s Bees shampoo is specifically formulated for kittens. It’s made to be tearless so it won’t hurt your kitten if some shampoo gets in their eyes. This Burt’s Bees shampoo will clean and soothe your kitten through a pH balanced and 99% natural formula. We like that Burt’s Bees kitten shampoo is made in the USA without sulfates, parabens or colorants.
Happy customers report that this kitten shampoo is great for regular use, long hair cats and kittens who may have fleas.
- Buttermilk formula soothes your kitten’s skin
- Appropriate for cats of any age
- Made in the USA
- No sulfates, parabens, colorants or synthetic fragrances
- No-rinse foam cat shampoo
- Leave-in formula
- Natural ingredients
- Soothes dry and itchy skin
Best Waterless Cat Shampoo: We understand that not all cats will easily and gladly accept a bath in water. Let’s face it – most cats inherently despise the water. With that being said, there are several waterless cat shampoos available. Our favorite one for is Vet’s Best. It’s a foaming cat shampoo that moisturizes your cat’s fur and skin, while relieving any dryness or itchy spots.
Vet’s Best waterless cat shampoo contains natural ingredients such as aloe vera, vitamin E and oatmeal. It emits a light, calming fragrance. Vet’s Best only recommends this waterless cat shampoo for cats over 12 weeks of age. If your cat faces a severe fear of water, do not worry. Waterless cat shampoos are an excellent alternative to traditional bath time.
- Soothes and moisturizes skin
- Foaming formula doesn’t require water
- Leave-in formula
- Natural ingredients
- Will not affect topical flea and tick treatment
- Not recommended for kittens under 12 weeks of age
- Will not be effective for cats who may have had an encounter with a skunk or other extremely dirty/toxic elements.
3 More Top Cat Shampoo Picks
To renew your cat’s dry, itchy skin, we like this shampoo from TropiClean. Ginger, white plum and oatmeal work together to restore your kitty’s skin while leaving it shiny and clean. This TropiClean cat shampoo is designed to revitalize your cat’s health with botanical emollients and a coconut-based cleanser. This shampoo is soap-free, safe for dogs and cats, and it offers a delightful floral scent. Customer reviews state that this cat shampoo is great for cats with long hair, and it comes highly recommended.
Skout’s Honor pet shampoo is formulated with avocado to help give your cat’s coat a luscious, healthy shine. Avocado oil also helps control shedding and dry skin. This mostly natural cat shampoo is paraben and sulfate-free, and it’s pH balanced. Skout’s Honor is an eco-friendly shampoo that can also help fight hot spots, odor and itching. This natural deodorizing cat shampoo is sure to give your kitty the spa day they need to be looking and feeling feisty as ever.
This shampoo is veterinary formulated to soothe cats who suffer from dry, itchy skin. The aloe and oatmeal blend add necessary moisture to your cat’s skin. Since this cat shampoo is soap-free, it’s great for sensitive skin. Even if you have a topical flea and tick treatment on your kitty, this shampoo is safe to use. Vetoquinol cat shampoo offers a rich lather when bathing your feline friend, then it leaves a pleasant coconut scent.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is it okay to bathe a cat with human shampoo? – No, it’s not. Cats have delicate, thin skin, and using a human shampoo can easily dry it out, irritate it or cause damage. It’s imperative that you only use a cat shampoo to bathe your cat.
- Is waterless shampoo good for cats? – Waterless cat shampoo can be effective for bathing cats if you’re performing routine maintenance. For cats who have gotten into something, you will most likely need to bathe them with water and regular cat shampoo.
- Should you give cats baths? – There are certain circumstances under which you will need to bathe your cat. Although kitties have incredible self-grooming routines, they may have physical ailments that make it difficult. We discuss other situations where a bath for your cat may be important in the article above.
Although bathing your cat can sound dreadful, sometimes it’s necessary. When you do give your cat a bath, it’s important to use a high quality cat shampoo. Human shampoos can damage and dry out your kitty’s thin, delicate skin. We’re confident that the choices on our list of best cat shampoos will be safe and healthy for your beloved feline friend.
If you have a kitten, it may be a good idea to get them used to bath time while they are young. Use treats and toys as distraction and positive reinforcement. This step will be especially important if you have a show cat, or a cat with long hair.