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Believe me, I know bathing a cat is no easy task, but sometimes it’s necessary. With practice and a lot of patience, bathing your cat does not have to be so scary. You also want to use the best cat shampoo to make bathing as effective as possible.
It is crucial only to use products that are marked safe for feline use. Cats often have sensitive skin, itchiness, or allergies. They can also develop infections and very dry skin. You must be diligent in picking a product that does not irritate your skin or worsen any issues.
I know how hard it is to find a cleanser that works well with your pet, and I understand that it can be tricky to try different products out. I am here to help by offering reviews of some of the best cat shampoos around.
Best General Purpose
Best Odor Control
Arm & Hammer 2-in-1
Best Flea Shampoo
Zodiac Flea & Tick
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How Often Should I Wash My Cat?
Most of the time, indoor cats will only need occasional bathing. Those with longer hair or with owners who have allergies may get bathed more often. Some cats may suffer from itchy skin, and bathing may be soothing and help control their conditions.
Older felines can suffer incontinence and loose stools, requiring more bathing. This may also be true for younger kittens. Overweight kitties may also need more frequent bathing, as they have trouble effectively self-grooming. Take care not to bathe a feline too often, which may cause dry, itchy skin. Regular brushing helps keep a kitty’s coat clean and keeps bathing with water and soap to a minimum.
Avoid human grooming products or household soaps on your cat. Felines do not have the same pH as us, and our soaps can strip their hair of natural oils. This will dry out their fur and skin. Cats are also often allergic to the fragrances and chemicals used in these products.
There are a few things to look out for when picking out soap for your cat. Keep these in mind when you are shopping and researching products.
- Look for products that explicitly say they are made for feline use.
- Avoid products with artificial fragrances or even a lot of natural odors.
- Try to stick with natural and simple products without a long list of added ingredients. Go with 100% natural shampoo formulas if your kitty is prone to allergies.
- Avoid harsh chemicals, parabens, and sulfates. These cause excessive dryness. Sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) are two you should try to avoid using a lot of.
- Look for products with anti-inflammatory agents, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.
- Do not assume dog cleanser is safe for felines.
- Always read all product labels before you try a new soap on your pet.
Kitties who are extremely stinky and odorous may have underlying health issues like poor nutrition or illness that can cause them to smell. If you are worried your pet has a constant problem with a bad odor, even after bathing, it is best to consult your veterinarian. There are several skin diseases that cats are prone to, and you will need your vet to help with treatment.
Best Cat Shampoos
Not all kitty shampoos are created equally. There are some that are meant for all felines, and others are made for specific conditions like fleas, dandruff, and shedding. We take a look at a few of the top choices on the market. Testing a small patch on your purr baby first is also a good idea to ensure they do not react badly.
Best General-Purpose Cat Shampoo
Breezytail PetO'Cera Shampoo Review
- Tested on humans first
- A blend of 11 botanical extracts
- Suitable for kittens and adult cats
- Formulated specifically for sensitive skin
- Aids in moisturization and de-shedding
- Soothing, fragrance-free formula
Breezytail PetO’Cera is made from only botanical ingredients. It is a very good choice for bathing and is fragrance-free. Breezytail is also a tearless formula, which is important. It was developed by veterinarians to be very mild.
The PetO’ Cera cleanser is developed to be soothing, aid in moisturization, and help with de-shedding. It is safe for adult kitties as well as kittens. Most customer reviews are very positive, which is always a good sign. This company tests all products on humans first and is committed to being 100% cruelty-free.
I like that the PetO’Cera cleanser features a blend of eleven botanical extracts. The cleanser is formulated specifically for felines with sensitive skin. This company offers full transparency of all ingredients, letting you know exactly what you are using on your pets.
Best Odor Shampoo For Cats
Arm & Hammer 2-in-1 Shampoo Review
- 2-in-1 formula
- Dander reducing
- Odor control
- Natural formula
- Baking soda formula for odor
- Natural chamomile and lavender scent
Arm & Hammer makes a two-in-one dandruff and odor-busting formula, which is a dual-purpose choice from industry experts. Animal dander is a big odor carrier, and reducing it can be greatly helpful if you have a very stinky pet. This formula uses the trusted power of baking soda for odor control.
This product uses natural ingredients, a big plus in our book. The fragrance comes from chamomile and lavender, not artificial sources. Lavender is naturally calming, adding another benefit to this product.
I appreciate the use of natural odor control. It is more calming for felines, not invasive, and does not trigger allergies in humans or cats. The gentle formula is good for kitties of all ages. It does contain sodium laurel sulfate, a detergent that can sometimes cause irritation, used to help with removing odors. This shampoo shouldn’t be your regular-use product, but it is a good pick to help clean up a stinky cat.
Best Flea Shampoo For Cats
Zodiac Flea & Tick Shampoo Review
- Strong flea-eliminating formula
- Can be used on dogs and cats
- Coconut for moisture and shine
- Does not irritate the skin
- Can clear a complete flea infestation
- Works on fleas and ticks
No one wants to have to handle a kitty with fleas, but like other skin and coat issues, fleas happen. The good news is there are plenty of products to help with this terrible problem. The Zodiac Flea & Tick formula is a very effective choice.
Zodiac is not just another pet cleanser. It can be a complete flea removal program. This formula also works on ticks and dirt. It is suitable for adult felines and kittens. It doesn’t irritate the skin and has no harsh, bothersome fragrances. Zodiac is a good choice if your purr baby has a huge flea infestation. It also clears out ticks.
Zodiac shampoo is good for all ages, and it does not use a lot of harsh chemicals. It has coconut in the formula to help with moisturization and keep your pet’s coat looking and feeling smooth. This shampoo should not be your kitty’s all-the-time shampoo, but it is a good pick if you need to get rid of fleas.
Best Cat Shampoo For Dandruff
Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Review
- Colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera
- Extremely gentle formula
- Promotes healing
- Great for dandruff
- Good for cats older than 6 weeks
- Soothing, anti-itch formula
Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe is a special formula, soothing, anti-itch pet cleanser. This is a very gentle formula that uses colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera. These two ingredients promote healing and work to aid in moisturizing dry, dandruff-ridden skin.
Earthbath is an animal cruelty-free, fragrance-free formula, so it works very well for sensitive cats and their humans. It uses no soap, gluten, DEA, parabens, synthetic dyes, sulfates, or phthalates. This shampoo is safe for cats and dogs over 6 weeks old.
I like that this product has limited ingredients and is gentle. Earthbath also comes with a 100% money-back guarantee. This one is gentle, effective, and safe. For a mild product, this works wonders and is a top pick for natural shampoo.
Best Cat Shampoo For Shedding
Shed-X Shed Control Review
- Shed control formula
- Promotes healthy skin and coat
- Made for cats
- Strengthens hair
- Mild natural nectarine and white ginger fragrance
Shed-X Shed Control is infused with essential amino acids, omega fatty acids, vitamins A, D, and E, and antioxidants. These work to promote healthy skin and a soft and shiny coat. This has a mild fragrance of pleasant white ginger and nectarine notes.
Oatmeal, wheat proteins, and other nutrients create a soothing, natural formula. The formula works to strengthen the hair shaft and help manage feline shedding. It is both affordable and very effective.
I like that the Shed-X formula works to strengthen hair and uses natural ingredients. The company focused on making effective, affordable products. This is a great option for budget-conscious pet parents.
Best Shampoo For Kittens
Burt's Bees Kittens Natural Tearless Shampoo Review
- Kitten-specific formula
- Tearless and gentle
- No harsh chemicals
- 99.7 % natural ingredients
- For kittens 12 weeks of age and older
- Vet-recommended formulas
The gentle option by Burt’s Bees is made just for kittens. Sulfate & Paraben Free, pH-balanced formula. The product is a tearless cleanser. It will not sting your sweet fur baby’s eyes and is soothing. The mild cleaner also uses buttermilk.
Burt’s Bees is sulfate and chemical-free. It also has no colorants, added fragrances, or any harsh chemicals. Ingredients are vet-recommended and pH-balanced specifically for feline needs. The shampoo is best for kittens 12 weeks of age and older.
I love the fact that this product uses 99.7 percent natural ingredients. Though designed for a kitten’s delicate skin and sensitive eyes, it is safe for kitties of all ages. Burt’s Bees is a gentle and natural cleanser that really works.
My Personal Experience With Burt’s Bees Kittens Natural Tearless Shampoo
I have used Burt’s Bees on my kittens and cats for years. I started using it when my cats were young and continue to use it now that they are adults. It is very gentle and has never caused irritation or itchiness. I appreciate the tearless formula and mild smell. I use it for baths as well as on a warm, damp washcloth for spot cleaning as needed. The shampoo has a subtle scent and leaves their coats clean and soft.
Best Ringworm Shampoo
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Review
- Treats fungal and bacterial infections
- Paraben and soap-free
- pH balanced formula
- Does not remove other topical flea and tick treatments
- Relieves bothersome and painful symptoms
- For cats over 12 weeks
Ringworm and other bacterial and fungal infections can often happen in cats. There are special soaps that can help with this. One that gets very high reviews is Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic and Antifungal, which works for both dogs and cats. This is paraben and soap-free, pH-balanced, and does not remove other topical flea and tick treatments.
Veterinary Formula shampoo is medicated to treat skin infections. It contains benzethonium chloride, an antibacterial, and ketoconazole, an antifungal to relieve bacterial and yeast infections. The formula relieves several symptoms, including discharge, itchiness, sores, greasiness, hair loss, and scaly skin. It includes aloe vera, as well as an anti-fungal and antiseptic.
I appreciate that this gentle soap is veterinary recommended and can treat several bothersome skin conditions. This cleanser is not suitable for kittens younger than 12 weeks. It is a medicated option with veterinary-grade ingredients.
Best Dry Shampoo For Cats
Vets Best Waterless Cat Bath Review
- Waterless or dry shampoo
- Plant-based formula
- Natural ingredients
- Sulfate, paraben, and dye-free
- Lighty-scented formula
- Easy-to-use foam
Sometimes, a full bath is not needed, but your cat still needs some help cleaning up. In that case, dry shampoo or waterless products can greatly help. I like the Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath. It is a unique, plant-based formula that cleans, conditions and moisturizes.
There are no dyes or harsh fragrances in Vet’s Best. It is lightly scented and will not irritate feline eyes and noses. This is for felines over 12 weeks of age. It does not interfere with or wash away topical treatments or medications for flea and tick management.
I like the use of natural, plant-based ingredients. This product uses neem oil, aloe vera, oatmeal, and vitamin E. It works to soothe dry skin. Vet’s Best is also sulfate, dye, and paraben-free.
How To Use Cat Shampoo
Using kitty shampoo is the perfect solution to keep your pet clean and smelling nice. This soap is specially formulated to clean feline fur and skin and is often combined with other ingredients like vitamins and minerals to make it more effective.
Simply apply a small amount of soap to your cat’s coat, lather, let sit, and rinse it off thoroughly. Always follow the instructions on the bottle carefully, as improper use can result in irritation or even allergic reactions.
Cat shampoo is safe to clean your purr baby and even parts of your house in numerous ways. For example, pet cleansers can remove pet hair from furniture, carpets, and clothing. You can also use it to clean the fur on your pet’s face and body. And finally, you can use it to clean the carpets in your home of any hairball or other feline-related messes.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are plenty of questions about cat shampoo and what works best. I will answer some of these below, but if I missed yours, let me know in the comments section.
How often should I bathe my cat?
This all depends on your specific animal and their needs. However, a good estimate is once every six weeks to once every few months. Not every domestic feline needs bathing that often. Long-haired cats, older kitties, kittens, and breeds that enjoy the water, like the Maine Coon, may take baths more often.
Can I use baby shampoo on my cat?
It‘s always best to stay away from human products on felines. Even baby shampoo, which is formulated to be very mild, can be far too harsh for their skin.
My cat has itchy skin. What kind of shampoo should I use?
For itchy, inflamed skin, look for a shampoo that has soothing qualities. Ingredients like chamomile, yucca root, aloe vera, oatmeal, olive oil, and nettle.
What kind of shampoo will reduce the amount of dander my cat sheds?
Dander is a very normal and widespread problem with cats. I have found that natural shampoo formulas work better. Those formulas that offer extra hydration are also helpful.
A Healthy Diet Means A Healthy Coat
While grooming, brushing, and bathing your cat is part of keeping her coat in top shape, a healthy diet is an integral factor. Always look for food that uses named meats. Cats are carnivores, so animal protein like turkey, fish, and chicken is very important. Avoid fillers and unnamed animal meals or by-products. You may want to consider adding fresh or freeze-dried meals to your kitty’s bowl. Even as supplemental nutrition, these add a boost of flavor and nutrients that support your kitty’s overall health.
Why Trust Love Your Cat?
Danielle is a feline owner with decades of experience. She has raised indoor and outdoor cats and kitties with special medical needs, including deafness and kidney disease. Danielle has always supported animals in need and has adopted most of her pets as rescues or taken them in as strays. Along with being an expert in cat care, Danielle has worked as a professional writer, researcher, and educator for over ten years. She strives to provide pet owners with the most up-to-date research-backed information to help every pet live a happy, healthy life.