What Can I Use To Wash My Cat?

Under normal circumstances, you will not need to wash your cat with water. Nature has equipped cats with the best cleaning tools, their barbed tongues. Feline mammals have very little need for foreign cleaning elements because they do an excellent job cleaning themselves with their tongues.

However, sometimes, these curious animals come in contact with grime, oil, gum, and the like, such that they may need their owner’s help in cleaning up the mess. In such cases, you should be well aware of what to do so that they do not get harmed or traumatized in the process. In this article, you will learn about the things that you can use to wash your cat and what you must avoid.

Why do you need cat shampoo?

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You might be thinking that the mild shampoo that you use is safe for your cat as well. Nothing can be further from the truth. The gentle shampoo that you use is still far too strong for your cat’s sensitive skin. Besides, it might even adversely affect the quality of your cat’s coat.

You might also think that you can use your dog’s shampoo on your cat. This thought is wrong. There may be certain ingredients and chemicals in a dog’s shampoo that could potentially harm your cat. Although both cats and dogs are pets, they have very different skins. After all, they do not belong to the same species.

These are the main reasons why you will need cat shampoo to wash your cat. In case you do not have cat shampoo in hand at the moment, there are a few other things you can use.

What you can use

Human skin and cat skin are different in many ways. Hence, the shampoo that you use may be too intense for your cat’s skin. Here is a list of the things you can use:

Cat shampoo

The safest bet to keep your cat from harm is getting a cat shampoo. Although this may seem inconvenient at first glance, if you take into consideration the time, energy, and money you are going to save from avoiding skin reactions, it might start to sound like a good investment.

The makeup and ingredients of cat shampoos are such that they will not harm your cat’s luscious coat or dry up its skin. It helps in cleaning as well as moisturizing your cat’s fur. Cat shampoos usually have a balanced pH level to keep the cat from getting dry skin.

There are many kinds of cat shampoos available for you. If you are not sure as to what type of shampoo to get, always settle on the mild choice with no added chemicals. Cat shampoos without fragrance are always better than the ones that have a strong scent.

Medicated shampoos

If the reason why you are planning to bathe your cat is to get rid of a nasty flea infestation, you should always get the advice and consultation of your vet first. Flea shampoos may contain insecticides, which will be harmful to kittens and pregnant cats. Get the vet’s green light before deciding to use flea shampoos on your own.

You will need antibacterial shampoos to fight bacterial skin infections and antifungal shampoos to fight yeast infections and ringworms. The frequency of required baths will depend on the intensity of your cat’s skin infection. You will know more about this only after consulting your vet. Usually, they prescribe weekly baths for cats.

Baby shampoo

You can use unscented baby shampoos to wash your cat. Many people believe that baby shampoos are mild enough to use on cats, and this belief is not entirely false. The only problem with baby shampoos is that most of them contain fragrances and dye. These ingredients are harmful to cats.

Before considering a baby shampoo to be safe for cats, make sure that it does not contain the following:

  • Artificial dyes
  • Petrochemicals
  • Parabens (preservatives in cosmetics)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (anionic detergent)

Although it is best to use cat-specific shampoos, in case of emergencies, you can also use baby shampoos to wash your cat. Just make sure that it is unscented.

Pure Castile soap


Pure Castile soap is a natural, olive oil-based soap that is safe for cat use. This type of cleaning agent is completely free of dye and harmful chemicals. You can use pure Castile soaps daily because it does not have a large amount of acidic content. However, experts still advise you not to regularly bathe your cat unless completely necessary or done under the consultation of your vet.

The thing with pure Castile soaps is that you must thoroughly rinse the cat’s fur after use. Make sure the water runs clear before you decide that your cat is clean. Pure Castile soaps contain several oils that may leave an unpleasant aftertaste or feel on the coat. This occurrence might cause the cat to start disliking taking baths more than before. If this happens, you will face a lot of problems when washing your cat becomes a necessity.

Dawn dish soap

This solution may sound a little weird because the thought of washing your cat with dish detergent sounds absurd. Dawn dish soap is very mild and does not contain any harmful ingredients that can have adverse effects on your cat or kitten.

This dish soap became a popular substitute for cat shampoo after the brand used it to treat the animals, which the oil spills distressed. Although Dawn is safe for one-time use and to get rid of flea infestations, you should not use it to wash your cat regularly. It has oil-removing agents that will definitely eliminate the natural oils of your cat’s skin and lead to dry skin problems.

Another point to keep in mind with this dish detergent is that you must use only the original Dash dish soap. The other versions and variants may contain harmful ingredients that can cause allergies and skin problems.

Waterless shampoos

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If your cat really needs a bath, but nothing can make it take one, you might want to settle for a waterless shampoo. These types of shampoos do not need any water to work effectively, and there is also no need to rinse them off after use.

If you are worried about your cat ingesting the waterless shampoo that you did not rinse, cast those worries aside because waterless shampoos are safe even if your cat consumes them. However, this fact does not mean that you can intentionally feed your cat waterless shampoo. It is safe for cats only in small and negligible amounts.

Homemade cat shampoo

Homemade cat shampoos are free of harmful chemicals and will prevent allergic reactions and skin irritations. Given below are two easy to make completely safe cat shampoos:

DIY dry cat shampoo

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All you need for this dry shampoo is some oatmeal and a baking sheet. Warm the oatmeal on a baking sheet and rub it into your cat’s fur. Continue rubbing until the oats reach your cat’s skin and then brush it off. Although this method cannot get rid of oils, it is still a very effective way to get the dirt out of your cat’s fur without using water.

DIY cat shampoo

Here are the ingredients you will need to make this homemade cat shampoo:

  • 32 fluid ounces (1 quart) of warm water
  • 1/3 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cups of vegetable glycerine

All you have to do after getting the ingredients is to get a pitcher and pour them in. Stir the ingredients gently and pour them over the back of a soaked cat or kitten. Make sure you rinse all the homemade shampoo out before drying your cat with a towel.

Points to remember

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  • As far as possible, always use cat shampoo instead of any of the substitutes given above
  • Always make sure that the ingredients that make up a soap or shampoo are 100% natural
  • Although essential oils are natural ingredients, they have aromatic fragrances and oils that a cat’s body may not be able to deal with
  • Check if a cat shampoo or soap has artificial dye, petrochemicals, parabens, or Sodium Lauryl Sulphate. These ingredients are harmful to cats.
  • Some natural cleaning agents like vinegar may be much too acidic for a cat’s skin to handle
  • Experts do not recommend using dog shampoo on a cat
  • Do not use your shampoos on your cat
  • Do not wash your cat too frequently because this may eliminate its natural oils and cause the cat’s coat to lose its sheen
  • DIY shampoos are very safe and effective


Cats do not like to take baths at all. In fact, they do not want to get wet in any way. However, sometimes, the situation may call for a quick water bath that your cat cannot avoid. Since the skin of a cat is more sensitive than that of a dog, you cannot use whatever comes to your mind to wash it. It is always best to get cat shampoo to wash your cat.

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