While cats normally take good care of their own grooming, there are times when you’ll want to give your cat a bath. Maybe they’ve got something sticky in their fur, they’re suffering from itching or dandruff, or their fur is looking dirty.
You might think you could simply bathe your cat with your own shampoo, but that’s definitely not a good option. Your cat’s skin is different from yours and needs different products. Cat shampoos are carefully formulated so they won’t harm your cat or make their skin itchy. You can also find a great range of specialist shampoos designed to help with issues like fleas, dandruff, and even hairballs. We reviewed dozens of cat shampoos to identify the best of the best, taking into account their ease of use, their ingredients, and how well they were received by reviewers.
For a great all-round option that’s suitable for pets with allergies and sensitive skin, we chose Pro Pet Works All Natural Organic Oatmeal Pet Shampoo + Conditioner as our top choice. It’s recommended by vets and free from both soap and detergent, so it’s suitable for cats with sensitive skin. It’s designed to be used on both dogs and cats, so if you have multiple pets, it’s a very handy choice.
The 5 Top-Rated Cat Shampoos
|Best Overall||Pro Pet Works All Natural||4.6|
|Best Natural Shampoo||Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe||4.7|
|Best Budget Cat Shampoos||John Paul Pet||4.6|
|Best Dry Shampoo||Vets Best Waterless Cat Shampoo||4.3|
|Best Antifungal Shampoo||Curaseb Antifungal Cat Shampoo||4.6|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Best Cat Shampoo Overall: Pro Pet Works All Natural Organic Oatmeal Pet Shampoo + Conditioner
If you’re looking for a great cat shampoo that’s sure to suit your cat, the Pro Pet Works All Natural Organic Oatmeal Pet Shampoo + Conditioner is an excellent choice. It’s made in the USA and recommended by vets, so you know you’re going for a quality product that won’t harm your cat. Its green credentials are top-notch, too: all Pro Pet’s products are 100% biodegradable and made from recycled materials. The shampoo itself is non-toxic and non-alcoholic, with no animal by-products.
Plenty of pet-owners are using this great shampoo on their dogs, but it’s also fully suitable for cats. In fact, you can even use it on ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, and even horses – so if you have a whole menagerie to take care of, it’s a great product to try out! Many Amazon reviewers praised it highly, with cat-owners saying that it worked amazingly well for their pets’ dry skin and dandruff.
Pro Pet Works All Natural Organic Oatmeal Pet Shampoo + Conditioner Key Features:
- Made in the USA by a company with strong eco-friendly credentials
- Hypo-allergenic and suitable for cats with allergies to food, grass, and flea bites
- No alcohol, sulfates, added colors, harsh chemicals, or added fragrance – it’s made from all-natural ingredients
- Suitable for cats with dry, sensitive, or itchy skin
- 100% money back guarantee from the manufacturer: if it doesn’t work well for your cat, you can get a full refund
Best Natural Cat Shampoo: Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo
If you’re looking for an all-natural option, the Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo is a great option to go for. Again, it’s suitable for both cats and dogs, and it’s soap-free and pH-balanced to suit sensitive skin. It’s also 100% biodegradable, with a paraben and phosphate-free formula. If your cat has dry skin, it’s an especially good option as it’s designed to re-moisturize and heal dry skin.
Reviewers said it left their cats’ coats silky and shiny, and that it was great for dandruff and itchy skin. Many praised the nice scent and said it worked well even on long-haired breeds. There’s also a matching conditioner that you may want to use as well, to make your cat’s fur extra soft and silky.
Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo Key Features
- Made in the USA from all-natural ingredients – no nasty chemicals here
- Has a pleasant vanilla and almond scent that reviewers liked, and will help neutralize odors
- Designed to re-moisturize and heal dry skin, and also effective against dandruff and itchy skin
- According to reviewers, it’s great for cats (and other pets) with sensitive skin and allergies
- Earthbath has a number of pet shampoos and conditioners, so you can try others from the range if you want a different scent or want to use a conditioner too
Best Budget Cat Shampoo: John Paul Pet Oatmeal Shampoo
The John Paul Pet Oatmeal Shampoo is a great budget-friendly choice, at just $5.89 for a 16 oz bottle. (If you’re going to be doing a lot of shampooing, there’s also the gallon jug option.) It’s made with oatmeal, aloe, and chamomile to clean your cat’s skin without irritating it. You don’t need to use much at a time, as it’s highly concentrated – meaning that budget bottle will last even longer.
This cat shampoo is made in the USA from natural products. In fact, it uses the same all-natural botanical extracts as the company’s Paul Mitchell brand for humans! The John Paul Pet company donates some of the proceeds from each sale to animal and wildlife organizations, too. Reviewers praised it for being great for cats with skin conditions, and said that it had a lovely scent (from the almond oil included in it) that wasn’t too strong at all.
John Paul Pet Oatmeal Shampoo Key Features:
- Made in the USA by a company that donates to animal and wildlife organizations
- Company has been cruelty-free ever since it was founded in 1980
- Based on the same all-natural botanical extracts as the Paul Mitchell brand for humans, but especially PH balanced for pets
- Designed to gently cleanse and moisturize your cat’s fur, and is particularly good for dry, flaky, and/or sensitive skin
- Concentrated formula, so you only need a small amount each time – meaning that 16 oz bottle could last a good while
Best Dry Shampoo for Cats: Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath
What if your cat hates being bathed? That’s where this shampoo comes in! Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath is a quick and easy spray shampoo option that you can use with cats from 12 weeks and older. You don’t need to rinse the shampoo out of their fur, so it’s perfect for cats who hate getting wet. You won’t need to worry about leaving any harmful chemicals on your cat, either: this formula is designed and recommended by vets with gentle natural ingredients.
Your cat may well lick the shampoo off, too, so the fact that it’s made from natural and safe ingredients is especially important. Reviewers liked the scent of this cat shampoo and said that it left their cat smelling good. It’s easy to apply and dries fairly quickly (in about 30 minutes). You should find that it helps a lot with dandruff, if your cat is prone to that. It’s also good for dealing with matted fur.
Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath Key Features
- Foam shampoo that you pump out and massage into your cat’s fur, with no need to rinse afterward
- Great for de-tangling your cat’s fur if it gets matted
- Light, clean scent that both you and your cat will like
- Made in the USA with high-quality ingredients and endorsed by vets
- Includes natural, beneficial ingredients like aloe vera, neem oil, Vitamin E, and oatmeal
Best Antifungal Shampoo for Cats: Curaseb Antifungal & Antibacterial Chlorhexidine Shampoo
Curaseb Antifungal & Antibacterial Chlorhexidine Shampoo is designed to treat conditions such as ringworm. It eliminates bacteria, yeast, and fungus and needs to be left on your cat for 10 minutes before rinsing off. It’s manufactured in the USA, so you can be confident that it meets stringent quality and safety standards. The manufacturer also offers a full refund, if you find the product isn’t effective for your cat.
Several reviewers said it was really effective against conditions like ringworm and eczema, and that it smelt really good too. Some compared the scent to sweet cherries or strawberries. Most importantly, though, it’s safe to use on your cat and is recommended by vets. It’s also a little cheaper than some other similar products.
Curaseb Antifungal & Antibacterial Chlorhexidine Shampoo Key Features:
- Medicated shampoo that includes the active ingredients chlorohexidine gluconate (anti-bacterial) and ketoconazole (anti-fungal)
- Suitable for cats aged 6 months and older: if you have a younger kitten, check with your vet before using this
- Made in the USA to high standards, in quality controlled laboratories
- Smells great – it doesn’t have the “medicated” smell that you might expect, and it will remove nasty smells from your pet
- Manufacturer offers a full refund guaranteed (even if you use the whole bottle!)
Who Should Buy Cat Shampoo
You might think that your cat doesn’t need washing. After all, cats groom themselves – and it’s rare to find a cat that actually likes getting wet! At some point, though, your cat is likely to get their fur particularly dirty or sticky, and that’s when having a bottle of cat shampoo on hand is really helpful.
It’s important to use cat shampoo on your cat, not regular (human) shampoo. While your shampoo might be great for making your hair clean and glossy, it could seriously irritate your cat’s skin. Special cat shampoos are specifically formulated for use on pets. Many are also suitable for dogs, and other animals, so you don’t need to buy a separate bottle for every type of pet you own.
If you’re allergic to cats, washing your cat regularly can help to reduce your allergy symptoms, too – particularly if you buy an anti-dandruff cat shampoo.
Important Features to Consider
Cat shampoos need to be both safe to use and also effective at cleaning your cat. Here’s what to consider when choosing a cat shampoo:
- The chemicals used in the formula. Most cat shampoos will of course avoid harsh or potentially harmful chemicals, but it’s always well worth double checking exactly what’s included. Usually, the fewer ingredients, the better.
- Whether or not the shampoo has a strong smell. A very mild scent could help your cat to smell fresh and clean, but anything strong is likely to be off-putting and upsetting for your cat. If you’re sensitive to smells, a heavily scented shampoo might also be unpleasant for you.
- The eco-friendly credentials of the shampoo. Some cat shampoos make a particular point of being as environmentally friendly as possible. They might come in a bottle you can recycle, for instance, and they’ll avoid using ingredients that could harm the environment.
- How effective the shampoo is. Of course, manufacturers will inevitably claim that their shampoo works! It’s worth asking other cat owners, though, or taking a look at online reviews to be sure that the shampoo actually does a good job of getting cats clean and whether it helps with issues like dry skin.
- How safe the shampoo is for your cat. Some cat shampoos are hypoallergenic, meaning they’re suitable for cats with allergies. Others are designed to work well for cats who have sensitive skin: they’ll relieve itching rather than aggravating it.
- Whether the shampoo is designed to treat any specific issues. Some cat shampoos are anti-dandruff, for instance, and others help to get rid of fleas. If your cat has a particular problem, look for a shampoo that will be effective in treating it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use baby shampoo on my cat?
It’s not ideal to use baby shampoo on your cat. However, if you really need to wash your cat and you haven’t got any cat shampoo available, baby shampoo is definitely a better option than regular (human) shampoo.
Don’t use this as a regular option, though. Your cat’s skin isn’t the same as a baby’s skin. It has a different pH level and ideally needs a properly formulated cat shampoo. If you do decide to use a baby shampoo, make sure you go for an unscented one.
What do I need to bathe my cat?
When you’re getting ready to bathe your cat, you’ll need:
- A large bucket, bath, or sink that you can use as a cat bath.
- Your chosen cat or kitten shampoo.
- A cat conditioner, if you want to use it.
- A towel to dry your cat.
- A brush for your cat’s fur.
Don’t use a hairdryer on your cat unless they’ve been used to it since they were a kitten. They’ll much prefer being dried with a towel. Keep them in a warm room and don’t let them go outside until they’ve dried off completely.
How often should you wash a cat?
Different professionals will give different guidance on how often you should wash your cat, and clearly some cats will need washing more frequently than others. It’s always best to consult your vet for advice specific to your cat’s breed and age.
However, in general, you shouldn’t be washing your cat more frequently than every 4 – 6 weeks. In fact, with most cats, you only need to bathe them if they come into contact with something particularly sticky or smelly.
Can I wash my cat with baking soda?
You can use baking soda as a dry shampoo for your cat. Simply rub it into their fur then brush it out thoroughly. It’s important to get the baking soda out as it can be harmful to cats if ingested in large quantities.
Some people think that baking soda kills fleas on cats, but there’s no clear evidence for this. So don’t use baking soda in preference to other cat flea treatments.