What Kind of Shampoo is Best for Cats?
Our Top Pick
Cat shampoo made with natural, cat-friendly ingredients by a transparent and reliable brand.
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USA-made and affordable pet shampoo made with natural ingredients and pleasant scents.
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Vet-recommended, broad-spectrum antimicrobial shampoo for cats with skin infections.
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Best for Dander & Odor Control
Natural 2-in-1 formula specifically formulated to control dander and deodorize smelly cats.
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Best for Sensitive Skin
Cruelty-free, almond-scented, oatmeal shampoo ideal for cats and dogs with sensitive skin.
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Best kitten shampoo due to its well-rounded specifications and effectiveness.
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Is Shampoo Necessary for Cats?
Yes, a cat shampoo is necessary. Although cats self groom, they do not get all of the dirt and grime from their fur. Using a quality shampoo can also decrease excess fur and reduce hairballs.
However, compared to dogs, bathing in cats is more situational. If your cat is excessively dirty, has gathered bugs or burs in its fur, or is suffering from something like skin infections, then it is bath time.
Why do Cats Need Their Own Shampoo?
In short, cats need their own shampoo because they have sensitive skin. For instance, you should not use dog shampoo on your cat because it may contain essential oils that are toxic to cats.
Human shampoos are also potentially dangerous. They are formulated for human skin, which has a different pH. Bathing your cat with a human shampoo may lead to seborrheic dermatitis and itchy, dry skin.
What are the Types of Cat Shampoos?
There are several types of shampoos for cats. They feature different ingredients and are used for various skin conditions and skin types. Here are the most common types of cat shampoos.
Flea and Tick Shampoo for Cats. Flea and tick shampoos contain insecticides that kill fleas and ticks on contact. When used following the manufacturer’s guidelines, they are safe and make an important part of the tick and flea treatment.
Cat Dandruff Shampoo. Dandruff shampoos for cats often contain natural ingredients that help soothe and moisturize the cat’s skin, thus reducing flaking and dandruff formation. Oatmeal is one of the most common ingredients in such shampoos.
Ringworm Shampoo for Cats. Ringworm shampoos contain an active ingredient with antifungal properties. Some ringworm shampoos for cats contain more than one ingredient. Commonly used antifungals are miconazole and ketoconazole.
Antifungal Shampoo for Cats. Antifungal shampoos are medicated shampoos made to treat skin infections caused by fungi. In addition to antifungals like ketoconazole and miconazole, they often feature a broad-spectrum antiseptic like chlorhexidine.
Deshedding Shampoo for Cats. Deshedding shampoos are designed to exfoliate and moisturize the cat’s skin. This helps release loose hair and makes brushing more effective. The furminator-like shampoo contains amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Hypoallergenic Cat Shampoo. Hypoallergenic cat shampoos are made with organic or all-natural ingredients that are unlikely to irritate the cat’s skin. They often feature aloe vera, shea butter, and coconut-derived moisturizers to nourish the skin and clean the cat’s coat.
The Best Cat Shampoo Reviewed
From rinse-free, waterless cat shampoos to shampoos with detangling conditioners to shampoos formulated for specific skin conditions – there are hundreds of cat shampoo products on Amazon and Chewy. To help narrow the list of options, we have reviewed the best cat shampoos.
Summary: BreezyTail PetO’Cera Cat Shampoo is made with allantoin and ceramide and formulated to provide itch relief and rejuvenate your cat’s coat. It helps moisturize dry skin and provides relief to itchy skin. The natural and tearless formula is easy on the cat’s coat and skin.
Shampoo Scent: Unscented
Key Ingredients: Sodium cocoyl glutamate, lauryl betaine, sodium cocoyl isethionate
- Soothing, moisturizing, and deshedding
- Enhanced with allantoin and botanicals for healthy skin
- Tearless formula that is safe for kittens
- pH-balanced and suitable for sensitive skin
- Full transparency in the ingredients list
- More expensive than other products on the list
Review: Most cat owners expressed satisfaction with this shampoo. Some went as far as to say it was one of the “best shampoos I’ve ever used.” They say that the shampoo meets their needs and expectations and is worthy of the expensive price tag.
Summary: Made with coconut cleansers and pH balanced for pets TropiClean Deep Cleansing Shampoo is well suited to safely moisturize your cat’s skin and deodorize its fur. The formula is made with natural ingredients and
Shampoo Scent: Berry & coconut
Key Ingredients: Mild coconut cleanser, sodium chloride, colloidal oatmeal
- Deep-cleaning, moisturizing, and conditioning formula
- pH-balanced, sulfate and paraben-free shampoo
- Bottle with spill-resistant cap and seal
- Can be used on both cats and dogs
- Affordable and made in the USA
- Some users dislike the scent
Review: With over 25,000 reviews on Amazon, TropiClean Deep Cleansing Shampoo for Pets is one of the best-selling pet shampoos on the market. Most cat owners rate this shampoo highly for its results on dirty fur and moisturizing. There are few complaints about the scent of the shampoo.
Summary: With a vet-recommended formula with broad-spectrum antimicrobials, the Veterinary Medical Shampoo for Cats is excellent for managing skin infections caused by bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. The shampoo is fast-acting and suitable to use on all pets (cats and dogs).
Shampoo Scent: Unscented
Key Ingredients: Benzethonium chloride and ketoconazole
- Antiseptic and antifungal formula
- Paraben and soap-free shampoo
- Suitable for both cats and dogs
- Vet-recommended and fast-acting
- Does not wash off flea treatments
- Accidental ingestion may cause stomach upset
Review: This medicated pet shampoo is overwhelming highly rated with over 19,000 five-star reviews. The only reported issue with the product is the potential stomach upset (vomiting and diarrhea) following accidents ingestion).
Summary: The strong deodorizing and dander-controlling formula with baking soda makes Arm & Hammer 2 in 1 Shampoo for Cats an excellent and efficient shampoo. It tackles a cat’s odors and safely leaves it with a pleasant lavender chamomile scent. The shampoo has natural ingredients.
Shampoo Scent: Lavender chamomile
Key Ingredients: Sodium laureth sulfate, cocoamidopropyl betaine, and cocamide MEA
- Strong deodorizing power with baking soda
- Fast-acting dander reducing formula
- Made with skin-friendly, natural ingredients
- Helps relieve skin irritation
- With fresh lavender chamomile scent
- Not a sulfate-free formula
Review: The overwhelming majority of reviews are 4 and 5 stars noting it’s “just what I needed” and that it did a great job at deodorizing their pets. The critical reviews often revolved around displeasure with the scent.
Summary: Made with animal support in mind, John Paul Oatmeal Shampoo for Cats is made with botanical extracts, oat protein, and aloe to gently cleanse and moisturize your pet’s fur. Plus, the shampoo is made with cruelty-free practices and the brand donates to animals in need.
Shampoo Scent: Almond
Key Ingredients: Oatmeal, aloe vera, and almond oil
- Oatmeal shampoo that soothes and relieves
- Botanical and non-irritating formula
- Soap, sulfate, and paraben-free formula
- Pleasant and relaxing almond scent
- Made in the USA with cruelty-free practices
- Some dislike the along scent
Review: The majority of reviews are positive. They state the shampoo not only did a good job but left their cat smelling great as well. They also like the fact that the brand donates funds to animals in need. Some cat owners complain about the scent.
Summary: Arm & Hammers Tearless Kitten Shampoo is designed to be gentle enough for kittens and strong enough for adult cats. The tearless formula features baking soda that deodorizes even the strongest of odors.
Shampoo Scent: Sweet almond
Key Ingredients: Sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine
- Natural and effective shampoo
- Enhanced and deep-cleansing formula
- Excellent deodorizing features
- Suitable for kittens and adult cats
- Very cost-effective option
- It may clump in the cat’s fur if misused
Review: Most consumers praised this product for its ability to deodorize their pets, although others claimed it had dried their pet’s skin and fur. Cat owners like the budget-friendly price and the fact it has a tearless formula.
What Should I Look for When Buying Cat Shampoo?
From active ingredients to skin-soothing additions to ease of use – there are several factors worth considering when buying a cat shampoo. Cat grooming at home is safe as long as the shampoo ticks these factors:
- Active Ingredients. Cat shampoos must feature active and skin-soothing ingredients that are derived from plants and are safe for the pet. They include aloe vera, buttermilk, shea butter, coconut oil, etc.
- Balanced pH. The cat’s skin is much more sensitive than human skin and with a different pH balance. Therefore cat shampoos must be formulated and pH-balanced for pets.
- No Harsh Chemicals. Choose a cat shampoo formula free from harsh chemicals (parabens, soaps, sulfates, phthalates, lanolin, DEA, MEA) and artificial additives (dyes, fragrances).
- Versatile Effects. The shampoo you choose should nourish the cat’s skin and coat and offer various benefits. In other words, the shampoo should be moisturizing, conditioning, and help deodorize the cat.
- Scent. Cat shampoos can be scented or unscented. Scented shampoos are usually better at deodorizing the cat. However, if you and your cat are bothered by strong scents, you should go for a fragrance-free formula.
- Ease of Use. The shampoo must lather quickly and come in a bottle that is easy to handle with one hand while bathing. These features are particularly important if using the product often.
- Brand. Last but not least, check the pet shampoo brand you are considering. Ideally, it will be based in the USA and transparent about its products and practices. Always go through reviews from other customers to learn more about the brand and product.
What Ingredients Should Not be in a Cat Shampoo?
Artificial additives and harsh chemicals are dangerous and should not be in a cat shampoo. Here is an in-depth look at the ingredient you need to avoid:
- Artificial Colors. Derived from petroleum, dyes may cause different health issues such as allergic reactions, birth defects, cancer, and organ failure.
- Artificial Fragrances. Artificial fragrances can be extracted from various ingredients and may cause cancer and reproductive issues. Sometimes fragrances hide under the term phthalates.
- Sulfates. Sulfates are cleaning agents that help create lather. Most sulfate products are harsh and can aggravate the cat’s skin problem.
- Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a chemical preservative that activates the immune system and causes itchiness, burning, blistering, and scaling of the cat’s skin.
- Parabens. Parabens are also chemical preservatives added to extend the shampoo’s shelf life. If absorbed, they accumulate and may cause hormonal disorders and cancer.
Is Human Shampoo Safe for Cats?
No, human shampoo is not recommended for use on cats. The human shampoo is designed to work on a different pH balance. Bathing your cat with a human shampoo is risky and may cause various issues such as dry skin, itchy skin, and seborrheic dermatitis.
Can I Use Baby Shampoo on My Cat?
It depends. For example, if your cat is really dirty and there is no cat shampoo available, you can use baby shampoo. This is because baby shampoos are made with milder cleansers (compared to human shampoos). However, regular bathing with baby shampoo is still inadvisable.
How do You Make Homemade Cat Shampoo?
There are several ways you can make a shampoo at home that is safe and effective for your cat. Here are some ideas:
- Mix a 1 to 1 ratio of apple cider vinegar to 4 parts water, then use as regular shampoo. Wet the cat’s fur first, rub thoroughly into the cat’s fur, and rinse clean.
- For a milder mixture for cats with sensitive skin, use a blender to blend 1/2 cup oats and 1/2 cup baking soda into powder. Then mix 1 Tbsp of Dawn dish soap and 2 cups of water into the powder and use it as a gentle formula cleanser for your pet. Let it sit for one minute before rinsing off.
- For a dry shampoo, you can mix equal parts of ground oatmeal and cornmeal and bake it at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes. Sprinkle the mix into the cat’s fur and let it sit for five minutes before brushing out.