Article at a Glance…
- The best cat shampoos I’ve found are: Earthbath (lots of awesome varieties), Allersearch (helps with allergies), Adams Plus (for fleas) and Vet’s Best (handy dry shampoo).
- You don’t need to wash your cat unless there’s a particular need e.g. he’s gotten into mud or chemicals outside or if you have allergies, washing can help remove dander.
- Never use human shampoo on cats as they will ingest residue by licking their fur and the ingredients can be harmful.
So, you’re thinking about washing your cat? Or maybe somebody else’s (I hope not but I have washed my neighbor’s cat before…ask me about that). For starters, good luck! You’ll probably need it. I’m just kidding, you shouldn’t get scared just yet. There are some awesome products out there that make it easy to keep even the most troublesome cats clean.
What’s my story? My husband and I have two cats. One is a Siberian – the breed famous for loving water – so we don’t have any trouble with him. Our girl on the other hand… When I first tried to wash her she scratched, bit and growled. I was left with bleeding scratches on my hands, arms and chest. Not a nice experience for anyone involved. But now after three years, we’ve improved the process a lot and she is able to cope with it and even stay calm.
Do you really need to shampoo your cat?
If you own a cat, you’ll have noticed that he spends a large proportion of his day licking himself. According to veterinarian Dr. Cynthia McManis, adult cats spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming! So do we really need to shampoo them ourselves too?
Of course it’s not necessary to wash your cat. However there are lots of cases where it’s a good idea. Here are a few examples:
- Outdoor cats come into contact with chemicals and pollutants that would be harmful if licked off.
- Cats don’t wipe after using the litter tray. My long haired cat occasionally gets poop caught in his fur. You want to wash this off before he sits on your lap…I’m speaking from experience!
- Cats (usually long haired) can get sweaty and smelly in hot climates.
- Some shampoos are designed to reduce allergens (dander) on the cat.
- A good scrub with cat shampoo can help reduce shedding and hairballs.
- Older cats often stop grooming and the fur becomes oily. Dirt and bacteria get trapped which can lead to infection.
- Some shampoos are designed to remove fleas, matting, mites and fungal infection.
Which cat shampoo ingredients are safe?
A lot of people are looking for cat shampoo alternatives and ask if they can use human shampoo on cats. Your favorite brand may be the best shampoo for you but not for kitty. You must remember that cats lick their own fur and some shampoo residue will always remain. Would you drink down a spoonful of your favorite hair product? I hope the answer is NO. So it should be the same for your cat.
Uusing human shampoo may be convenient because you already have it in your house, but you’re not even saving money. There are plenty of cat shampoos just as cheap as the human version. You’ll also save the money you would have spent at the vet when your kitty starts puking up bubbles.
An ideal cat shampoo will have all natural ingredients, safe for consumption. Some common cat shampoo ingredients include aloe vera, coconut oil derivatives, tea leaf extracts and oatmeal. Ingredients to avoid include pyrethroids, refined tar and selenium sulfide.
How do you even wash a cat?
How easy or difficult it is to bathe your cat depends on his temperament. As I said, my Siberian has no problems but my British Shorthair was a different story. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years from washing my cats:
- Make sure everything is prepared in advance. Even better, have someone help you bathe your cat. Chances are, if you reach to grab the shampoo, your cat will jump out of the bath and get everything wet.
- You need: a large sink or bath, at least one towel, a bath mat, cat shampoo and a water spray hose.
- Use the bath mat to stop kitty’s paws are sliding around. It causes unnecessary stress.
- Fill the sink with 2-3 inches of lukewarm water and some shampoo.
- Reassure the cat as usual, petting can help. Place the cat in the water slowly. If you have a helper, get him to pet the cat while you wash.
- Gently spray warm water all over the cat – except the face and ears.
- Massage cat shampoo into the cat’s body. Pay particular attention to the feet and back end.
- Drain the water from the sink.
- Rinse the cat with warm water.
- Put the cat standing on a towel and dry with another towel. If he can tolerate it, use a hairdryer on a cool setting. If not, make sure he has somewhere safe and warm to dry naturally.
- Reward the cat with treats.
Those are just the steps I follow. My cats are easy to wash now because they’re used to it. If you consistently reward them with treats afterwards, they should learn to tolerate it.
There are lots of great cat shampoos out there, especially if you’re shopping online. For that reason, it’s best to do your research and make sure you’re getting a product that suits your (and your kitty’s) particular needs. I’ve picked favorites for a few of the most common purposes below.
Cst shampoo to help with human allergies
You might wonder why someone who’s allergic to cats would own one. Well ask my husband! He got our first cat before I met him. If your allergies are mild, there are lots of ways to make life with a cat easier. We chose hypoallergenic cat breeds and regularly use a cat shampoo to reduce allergens. If you’re not allergic to cats yourself, it’s nice to give your kitty a wash with an anti-allergen shampoo before you have guests who are.
If you’re looking for a cat shampoo for allergy sufferers, I recommend the Anti-allergen pet shampoo by Allersearch Laboratories. It’s specially designed to remove dander, the main trigger for cat allergies. It also neutralizes environmental allergens. For example if you have an outdoor cat who enjoys running through fields of pollen. It is a little on the pricey side but one treatment lasts for 30 days so one bottle lasts forever. Most people really notice a difference in their symptoms after using it on their pets, with mild allergies usually disappearing completely.
Best all-rounder cat shampoo
If you and your kitty don’t have any particular requirements like allergies or infection (lucky you!) then I think Earthbath is a brand that will suit most people. Its ingredient list is gentle and all-natural with a yummy cherry scent. It offers a combined shampoo and conditioner to leave your cat’s locks looking nicer than yours (boo hoo). The price is really reasonable. There are a ton of variations such as the Light Coat Brightener for paler kitties.
Cat shampoo for mites, ticks and fleas
We haven’t had to deal with unpleasant infestations like mites, ticks and fleas because our cats are indoor only. However, if this is something your kitty is at risk for, Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo comes highly recommended. This cat tick shampoo is effective for 28 days after application. Adam’s Plus works on dogs too so you can do the whole menagerie. Although the formula has to be harsh to thoroughly rid your cat of its unwanted guests, Adams Plus contains soothing ingredients. Oatmeal, coconut extract, lanolin and aloe condition the skin and hair throughout the process.
Cat antifungal shampoo
If your little fuzzball is unlucky enough to catch a fungal infection, don’t worry. It’s easily treated with a medicated shampoo. Miconazole is the same drug used in human lotions for athlete’s foot and ringworm. It’s available in pet-safe form from Davis in an antifungal shampoo. Again, it’s free from all artificial dyes and fragrances. Davis’s Miconazole shampoo contains oatmeal and coconut derivatives to lock in moisture and relieve itching.
Best dry cat shampoo
I love dry shampoo, as do a lot of women. It’s quick and convenient when you don’t feel like a full wash. Well, the same applies to waterless cat shampoo! In fact, it’s even more useful for cats. My long-haired boy just loves to sit on our electronics after a wash (they’re warm!) which is obviously dangerous. With a dry shampoo, we don’t have to worry about this.
Since it leaves a residue, you’re probably wondering is waterless cat shampoo safe? As long as you’re careful with the brands you choose, they most certainly are. My favorite brand is Vet’s Best. As the name suggests, vets have approved the formula as safe for cats and kittens over 12 weeks.
Dry cat shampoo reviews are pretty positive. I personally don’t care about the smell of a wet cat but those who do found that using a waterless cat shampoo solved the problem. It’s also great for cats who get very anxious around water. Although training them to tolerate it is the best solution, this isn’t always possible. Vet’s Best contains soothing ingredients like aloe vera, neem oil and vitamin E so it’s a pleasant experience for your cat.
Best cat wipes
Another convenient product which might just change your life is the cat wipe. I’m sharing my story so it doesn’t happen to you but if you have a long-haired cat you need cat wipes. Your cat will get poop stuck in his fur, it’s just a matter of time. For some reason I let it happen three times before getting cat wipes. Think of all the places your cat sits. Do you want poop there? I think not. Of course short-haired cats can benefit from cat wipes too. The poop situation just isn’t as…dramatic.
Anyway, enough about that. There are tons of brands to choose from again but I like this one from Burt’s Bees. It’s a brand I use myself so it’s cool to see that they also have a pet range. What crazy cat lady doesn’t want to match with her cat?
One more thing that will make your kitty love you (more)
If you want to make shampoo time extra fun for your kitty, I recommend getting one of these scrubby brushes. I first saw them for humans when I was in Japan got one for myself and my husband. Oh. My. God. They feel amazing! Like a head massage but free. They’re great at getting rid of dry skin and dandruff too. Pamper your cat with a good rub down and remove tons of shedding fur and dander at the same time. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Do you have a favorite cat shampoo? Any questions, thoughts or fun stories about kitty bath time? I’d love you to share them in the comments.