9 Best Cat Shampoos in 2021

Cats are known for keeping themselves clean and tidy, but even the cleanest cat needs a little help sometimes. Whether your cat has gotten into a sticky situation or is battling a skin condition, the occasional bath could do him good.

When shopping for the best cat shampoo, you have to consider the options. Ask yourself what you’re looking for first. Cat shampoo comes in a great many varieties from natural cat shampoo to medicated shampoo for cats. If you’re just looking to give your cat’s coat a freshening up, you don’t need to worry about medicated options but you should still pay attention to the ingredients to make sure you’re not using something that might irritate your cat’s skin.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of bathing your cat and give you some tips on what to look for when shopping for cat shampoo. You’ll also see our top 10 picks for the best cat shampoo in different categories.

The Benefits of Bathing Your Cat

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Your cat has a natural desire to keep himself clean and his body is made for it. His tongue is barbed with tiny Velcro-like hooks that effortlessly remove dirt and debris from his coat while his flexible spine enables him to reach most parts of his body. Daily grooming is enough to keep most cats clean, but there are times when a bath might be needed.

Here are some of the potential benefits of bathing your cat:

  • It may be the safest way to remove potentially dangerous products like paint, glue, or toxic chemicals your cat accidentally gets into.
  • Older and overweight cats may have trouble grooming themselves properly and could benefit from the occasional bath.
  • It may help kill or prevent pests like fleas and ticks, especially for outdoor cats and homes with other outdoor pets like dogs.
  • Some shampoos help treat or relieve symptoms from skin infections, allergies, and other conditions that affect the skin and coat.
  • Occasional bathing may help remove dead and loose fur from the coat which could reduce shedding – especially in long-hair cats.

Before bathing your cat, it’s a good idea to give him a good brushing to remove excess fur from the undercoat. Brushing also helps distribute the natural oils produced in your cat’s skin which help moisturize and protect his skin and coat.

What to Look for in Cat Shampoo

If you find yourself unexpectedly needing to give your cat a bath, you might be tempted to reach for your own bottle of shampoo. What you may not realize, however, is that your cat’s skin is very different from your own and something gentle on your skin might not be so gentle on his. Soap intended for humans can strip the natural oils from your cat’s skin, leaving him susceptible to dryness and itching. It’s best to use a shampoo specifically formulated for cats.

Here are some things to look for when shopping for cat shampoo:

  • Natural Ingredients – Your cat’s skin can be very sensitive, so look for a cat shampoo made with natural ingredients. If it carries the word “hypoallergenic” on the label you can trust that it will be less likely to trigger a negative reaction.
  • Cleansing Agents – A good cat shampoo will contain ingredients designed to cleanse your cat’s coat without being too harsh. Coconut-based cleansers are an excellent alternative to soap that might dry your cat’s skin.
  • Moisturizers – After cleansing your cat’s coat, you want to restore some natural moisture to prevent his skin from drying out. Moisturizing ingredients like oatmeal, coconut extract, and aloe vera are natural moisturizers to look for.
  • Active Ingredients – If you’re trying to get rid of fleas or treat a particular skin condition, medicated shampoo for cats might be your best option. Ask your veterinarian for advice.
  • No Harsh Chemicals – In addition to looking for beneficial cat shampoo ingredients, you also need to be on the lookout for potentially harmful ones. Avoid things like sulfates, parabens, and phthalates as well as excessive use of artificial fragrance.
Once you’ve found the right cat shampoo, you’ll need to assemble your other supplies. Decide where you want to bathe your cat and get the area set up. Lining the bottom of the sink or bathtub with a towel will give your cat’s feet something to grip and it’s a good idea to keep an extra towel on hand in case of splashing. Wet your cat’s coat with warm water then work the shampoo gently but thoroughly into the fur. When you’re done, be sure to rinse thoroughly and towel dry.

The 9 Best Shampoos for Cats

Bath time can be stressful for cats, so do your best to make the experience as pleasant as possible by choosing the right cat shampoo. Take your time when shopping to make sure you get the best cat shampoo for the job. Here are our top picks for the best cat shampoo:

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo

Our Top Overall Pick: Not only is this shampoo our top pick but, if you’re looking for a natural cat shampoo, Earthbath has several options to offer. This oatmeal and aloe shampoo is designed to relieve itching and dry skin through the use of gentle, natural ingredients. It features a pleasant vanilla almond scent and is safe for use on kittens over 6 weeks old. This shampoo cleans and deodorizes your cat’s coat while healing and soothing dry skin. Plus, it’s gentle for sensitive skin and won’t interfere with topical flea applications.

Pros: Made with natural ingredients, 100% biodegradable, soothes and hydrates the skin

Cons: Some users dislike the scent

Paws & Pals Oatmeal, Shea Butter & Aloe Vera Shampoo

The Best Natural Cat Shampoo: Another great option in natural cat shampoo, this Paws & Pals recipe features soothing ingredients like oatmeal, shea butter, and aloe vera. This formula is vegan, organic, and completely natural so you can rest assured that it will be gentle on your cat’s skin. Aloe, jojoba, and coconut oils relieve dryness and itching while oatmeal and shea butter hydrate and smooth your cat’s coat. This shampoo is completely free from irritants and will help cleanse, deodorize, and detangle your cat’s coat.

Pros: Made with natural ingredients, soothes dry skin, deodorizes and detangles the coat

Cons: May not lather as much as some formulas, some users dislike the scent

Frisco Oatmeal Shampoo with Organic Aloe

The Best Affordable Cat Shampoo: You don’t necessarily need to spend a small fortune on pet bathing supplies. This oatmeal shampoo for cats and dogs is extremely affordable and made with quality ingredients. It is designed to soothe and hydrate your cat’s skin, making it the perfect option for general bathing. This shampoo has a light almond scent that won’t irritate your cat’s nose and it is made with natural oat protein to hydrate, protect, and nourish the skin and coat. Plus, it’s completely free from parabens and dyes.

Pros: Affordable price, soothes and hydrates skin, made with organic aloe vera

Cons: Contains some added fragrance, may interfere with flea medications

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic & Antifungal Medicated Shampoo for Cats

The Best Medicated Shampoo for Cats: Formulated to relieve fungal and bacterial skin infections, this medicated cat shampoo soothes the skin and speeds the healing process. It contains active ingredients benzethonium chloride to eliminate bacteria with ketoconazole for fungal infections. This shampoo is completely free from parabens and enriched with aloe vera to heal and hydrate the skin, helping restore its natural moisture barrier.

Pros: Antiseptic and antifungal benefits, aloe vera to soothe and heal, powerful active ingredients

Cons: Not intended for kittens under 12 weeks, may require repeated treatments

Burt’s Bees Hypoallergenic Cat Shampoo

The Best Hypoallergenic Cat Shampoo: For cats with sensitive skin or allergies, this hypoallergenic cat shampoo is a good choice. It is pH-balanced for your cat’s skin and contains moisturizing shea butter and honey for natural moisture and shine. This shampoo will leave your cat’s coat feeling clean and fresh without the weight of heavy moisturizers or the irritation of harsh chemical ingredients.

Pros: Made with natural ingredients, moisturizing shea butter, leaves coat clean and fresh

Cons: May not lather as well as some cat shampoo recipes

TropiClean Hypoallergenic Gentle Coconut Puppy & Kitten Shampoo

The Best Shampoo for Kittens: It can be difficult to find products gentle enough for your kitten’s sensitive skin but this TropiClean hypoallergenic cat shampoo has you covered. This recipe is completely hypoallergenic, designed to cleanse and soothe the skin while moisturizing and relieving allergies. It is pH-balanced for your kitten’s skin and completely free from parabens, soaps, and dyes. With this shampoo, your kitten’s skin and coat will be soft, clean, and comfortable.

Pros: Hypoallergenic for sensitive skin, pH-balanced for kittens and puppies, free from harsh ingredients

Cons: Not designed for kittens under 12 weeks of age

FURminator deShedding Rinse Free Foaming Shampoo

The Best Cat Shampoo for Shedding: Pet hair is a reality for any cat owner, but it doesn’t have to become overwhelming. This FURminator foaming shampoo is designed to reduce excess shedding which saves your furniture and helps prevent hairballs. This foaming formula is enriched with omega fatty acids and hydrolyzed plant proteins to support healthy skin and coat. Simply massage it into your cat’s coat and leave it in. No rinse required!

Pros: Rinse-free shampoo reduces shedding, enriched with omega fatty acids, no parabens or dyes

Cons: May leave a somewhat sticky residue, some cats dislike the smell

Vetoquinol Aloe & Oatmeal Shampoo

The Best Cat Shampoo for Itchy Skin: Formulated specifically for dry, itchy skin this aloe and oatmeal shampoo helps relieve itching from allergies and other skin conditions. This recipe is free from soap that might dry out your cat’s skin and it contains emollients to restore the skin’s natural moisture barrier. By working into a rich lather, this shampoo leaves your cat’s skin and coat clean without stripping away the natural oils and it leaves behind a subtle coconut fragrance.

Pros: Formulated to relieve itchy skin, contains emollients to hydrate skin, subtle coconut fragrance

Cons: May not relieve all skin conditions

Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath

The Best Waterless Cat Shampoo: Some cats simply don’t like water. If you’re looking for a convenient option to give your cat’s coat a quick clean without having to deal with the hassle of a full bath, this waterless cat bath is the perfect solution. This no-rinse formula is safe for cats 12 weeks and older. It’s made with natural ingredients including aloe vera, neem oil, vitamin E, and oatmeal to sooth and hydrate your cat’s skin. It has a calming fragrance that isn’t overwhelming, and the leave-in formula is easy to use.

Pros: No-rinse foam formula, natural ingredients with calming fragrance, soothes and hydrates skin

Cons: Not recommended for kittens under 12 weeks, may be less effective than rinse away formulas

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is medicated shampoo for cats? Medicated shampoo for cats is simply shampoo formulated to treat a specific issue. Some medicated shampoos are designed to kill fleas and ticks while others help restore moisture to dry and damaged skin. Medicated cat shampoo exists for everything from bacterial and fungal skin infections to mild issues like skin allergies.
  2. Can shampoo help with shedding? All cats shed, so you can’t expect the occasional bath to completely stop the issue. Bathing your cat can, however, help remove loose and dead fur from his coat which may prevent it from being shed all over your furniture. Just be wary of bathing your cat too often because it might dry out his skin and contribute to skin and coat problems that could cause him to shed more.
  3. How often should I bathe my cat? Cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves, so you shouldn’t need to bathe your cat often. You only really need to when he gets himself into a particularly bad mess or when you’re trying to treat some kind of skin or coat condition. If you’re treating your cat for fleas, you may need to bathe him weekly until the issue is under control. For skin allergies and other conditions, refer to your veterinarian’s recommendations and follow the instructions on the bottle.
  4. What cat shampoo ingredients should I avoid? Generally speaking, shampoo made for cats shouldn’t contain anything that will harm your cat. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Artificial additives and even things like fragrances can irritate your cat’s skin and cause a negative reaction. Avoid cat shampoos made with too many chemical ingredients as well as shampoos containing parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. You may also want to avoid shampoos that contain regular soap because it can strip the essential oils from your cat’s skin.
  5. Is cat shampoo safe for kittens? It’s always a good idea to check the label before using something on your cat, especially if he’s a kitten. Kittens can be more sensitive to things that might not bother an adult cat. This applies to things your kitten might ingest as well as things that go on his skin, so be sure to double-check the cat shampoo label. Even natural cat shampoo may not be recommended for kittens under 12 weeks, depending on the ingredients. If you can’t find a shampoo for kittens, try using something gentle like Dawn dish soap.

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