9 Best Waterless Cat Shampoos in 2024

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Cats a notorious for hating water, so the thought of giving your cat a bath might sound less than appealing. While the process of containing your cat in the sink or tub for a traditional bath is certainly challenging, it isn’t the only option. If you’re looking for a cat shampoo substitute that enables you to skip the bath entirely, waterless cat shampoo might be the perfect solution.

In this article, we’ll explore the subject of waterless cat shampoo to learn what it is and how to use it. You’ll also see our top picks for the best waterless shampoo and receive answers to common questions.

What is Waterless Shampoo for Cats?

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When you hear the word “waterless” you probably picture a dry product – something like dry shampoo. Dry shampoo is a popular product for humans, usually used to absorb excess oil between showers.

Waterless cat shampoo is different. It isn’t entirely waterless because the product itself is a liquid, but you don’t need to rinse it out after using it. Rather than soaking your cat’s coat with water before applying the shampoo and rinsing it out after, you just work it into his coat and brush it out.

Because waterless shampoo simplifies the bathing process, there are a number of benefits for cats. First and foremost, it reduces the anxiety of the entire experience. A regular bath requires you to keep your cat in the sink or bathtub which can be scary, not to mention all of the water. Using waterless shampoo saves your cat from that anxiety and spares you the risk of being scratched, soaked, and bitten.

How to Use Waterless Cat Shampoo

The key to keeping your cat’s coat clean and tidy is to brush him regularly. Grooming is an essential element in cat care, even if your cat does a pretty good job grooming himself.

Brushing your cat regularly helps remove loose and dead hair from the undercoat which reduces shedding and may help control hairballs. It also distributes the natural oils produced in your cat’s skin which keep the skin and coat moisturized. In addition to regular brushing, using waterless shampoo can help keep your cat’s coat looking fresh and clean.

Here are the basic steps to follow when using waterless cat shampoo:

  1. Place your cat on a stable surface like a table or countertop and place a towel under his feet.
  2. Spray the waterless shampoo in an even layer over his coat.
  3. Work the shampoo into your cat’s coat using your hands or a washcloth.
  4. If recommended by the instructions, let the product dry for a few minutes.
  5. Brush out your cat’s coat, working from head to tail, brushing in the direction of hair growth.
When it comes to cat shampoo alternatives, waterless shampoo is a great option. It may not be the perfect substitute in every case but it’s definitely something you should consider keeping on hand. Read on to see our top picks for the best waterless shampoos for cats.

The Best Waterless Cat Shampoo

Every cat is different, so the best shampoo for one cat might not be the best for another. The right shampoo will depend on the length and thickness of your cat’s coat. For some cats, a foaming waterless shampoo is the best option while spray-on shampoo works better for others. Take the time to peruse your options before making your selection.

Here are our top picks for the best waterless cat shampoo:

Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath

If you’re looking for a waterless cat shampoo that does more than just cover odors, consider Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath. This foaming formula cleanses and moisturizes the skin using natural ingredients. It features aloe vera, neem oil, vitamin E, and oatmeal in a unique leave-in formula that soothes dry, itchy skin while leaving behind a calming fragrance. This waterless shampoo doesn’t affect topical flea control products and it’s safe for cats and kittens 12 weeks and older.

Pros: Cleans and moisturizes, natural ingredients, calming fragrance, leave-in formula

Cons: Not recommended for cats under 12 weeks, some users dislike the smell

Burt’s Bees Waterless Shampoo for Cats

Many cats have sensitive skin, so you need to be extra careful about avoiding certain cat shampoo ingredients. This Burt’s Bees Waterless Shampoo for Cats is 99.8% natural and doesn’t contain any sulfates, colorants, or other harsh chemicals. Made with apple and honey to nourish the skin and give the coat natural shine, this waterless shampoo is gentle but effective. You’ll also be glad to know that it’s specifically pH-balanced for cats.

Pros: Over 99% natural, pH-balanced for cats, made with apple and honey

Cons: Spray top on the bottle may leak, may leave residue on the coat

TropiClean Waterless Hypoallergenic Shampoo

Some cats have a habit of getting into messes and they need a little help getting clean. If you’re looking for a product that helps deodorize your cat’s coat between baths, this Tropiclean waterless cat shampoo may be a good option. It features a natural, hypoallergenic formula made with coconut and aloe to gently cleanse and deodorize your cat’s coat. It’s mild enough for sensitive skin and is made in the USA from 70% organic ingredients. Simply spray and brush through your cat’s coat.

Pros: Natural and hypoallergenic formula, pleasant coconut scent, mild enough for sensitive skin

Cons: Scent may not last very long

Ark Naturals Don’t Worry Don’t Rinse Me Shampoo

Even without the hassle of a full bath, waterless shampoo can sometimes be tricky to use when it comes in a spray bottle. This Ark Naturals Don’t Worry Don’t Rinse Me Shampoo solves the problem with a thicker, foaming formula and a pump bottle design. This waterless cat shampoo features a natural botanical formula made with balsam, cedarwood, rosemary, and orange oils to leave your cat smelling fresh and clean. It cleans and moisturizes your cat’s coat and you don’t even need to brush or dry him.

Pros: Waterless foaming formula, easy pump bottle dispenser, natural botanical formula

Cons: Not intended for kittens under 12 weeks, some users found the scent too strong


Nootie Waterless Shampoo Wipes

Though waterless shampoo is definitely easier than giving your cat a traditional bath, spray bottles and foam can be a struggle to use. These waterless shampoo wipes are a great option if you just want to quickly refresh your cat’s coat or do some spot-cleaning. These wipes are free from parabens and alcohol, made with a pleasant Japanese cherry blossom scent. Simply use the wipes as needed on your cat’s coat for gentle cleaning action and a light deodorizing fragrance.

Pros: Easy to use, pleasant Japanese cherry blossom scent, paraben- and alcohol-free

Cons: Wipes may be too small, some users found the fragrance too strong

Pet Head Fizzy Kitty Mousse Cleaner

Give your cat a quick clean with this Pet Head Fizzy Kitty Mousse Cleaner. This foaming formula is easy to use right out of the bottle and the pump bottle design is perfect for hands-free convenience. With a delicious strawberry lemonade scent, this no-rinse shampoo is eco-friendly and pH-balanced for your cat’s sensitive skin. It is safely made in the USA without sulfates and parabens, plus it is safe for cats if licked or swallowed, so you have nothing to worry about.

Pros: pH-balanced for cat skin, strawberry lemonade scent, eco-friendly and made in the USA

Cons: Contains some added fragrance, some users dislike the scent

FURminator deShedding Rinse Free Foaming Cat Shampoo

Shedding is a concern for most cat owners. The more your cat sheds, the more time you’ll spending removing hair from your clothes and furniture. More than that, however, the more your cat will struggle with hairballs. This FURminator deShedding Rinse Free Foaming Cat Shampoo is designed to help reduce shedding and it comes in a convenient waterless formula. This no-rinse cat shampoo is also enriched with omega fatty acids and hydrolyzed plant proteins to support skin and coat health.

Pros: Convenient foaming formula, helps reduce shedding, enriched with omega fatty acids

Cons: Some users find the smell too strong, may leave residue on the coat

Bodhi Dog Waterless Lemongrass Shampoo

If you’re looking for a product to quickly refresh your cat’s coat between baths, this Bodhi Dog waterless shampoo is a great option. It is completely natural and hypoallergenic, made with 100% nontoxic ingredients. This shampoo has a pleasant lemongrass scent and is made with natural botanicals. Simply spray it on and let it soak for 1 minute before rubbing it in, air drying, and brushing your cat’s coat.

Pros: Safe for sensitive skin, hypoallergenic and nontoxic, fresh lemongrass scent

Cons: Some users disliked the smell

Pet Head Dry Clean Waterless Shampoo Spray

This Pet Head Dry Clean Waterless Shampoo Spray offers a quick and easy way to clean your cat’s coat. Simply spray it on to freshen up between baths to give him a pleasant blueberry scent. This waterless cat shampoo features an eco-friendly formula that is pH-balanced for your cat’s skin and safe if licked or swallowed. Plus, it’s made in the USA without parabens, sulfates, or DEA.

Pros: Pleasant blueberry scent, simple way to freshen the coat, pH-balanced for cat skin

Cons: Some users found the smell too strong

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How often can you use waterless cat shampoo? For the most part, cats groom themselves so your cat shouldn’t need to be bathed very often. Older and arthritic cats that have trouble grooming themselves may need more assistance, but the average cat only needs the occasional bath. Waterless shampoo is a great cat shampoo substitute for when you don’t want to go through the hassle of a full bath. You’ll need to read the label to determine how often you can use the product, but most can be used on a weekly basis if needed.
  2. Do you need to rinse waterless shampoo for cats? No, the entire point of waterless shampoo is that you don’t need to rinse it. You’ll need to follow the instructions on the label, but generally all you need to do is spray it on, work it through your cat’s coat, then let it dry and brush it out.
  3. Do you need to be wary of waterless cat shampoo ingredients? Yes, you should always be mindful of the ingredients in anything you use on your cat. You can’t trust that cat shampoo ingredients will always be safer for pets than the ingredients in human products – it’s still your job to check the label. Something else to keep in mind about waterless shampoo is that because you don’t rinse it out, it may have contact with your cat’s skin for longer than regular shampoo. This requires an extra degree of caution when it comes to checking the ingredients.
  4. How long does waterless shampoo take? If you’ve ever tried bathing your cat the regular way, you know it can be a long and painful process. The beauty of waterless shampoo is that you don’t have to struggle with your cat in the bathtub and that can save a lot of time. You simply apply the shampoo, rub it through your cat’s fur, and brush it out. Some shampoos recommend giving the product time to dry before brushing it out, but the whole process shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.
  5. Can I make my own dry shampoo for cats? When it comes to dry shampoo for cats, DIY options do exist, but they may not be the best idea. Dry shampoo can be made from a combination of oatmeal, corn meal, and baking soda to absorb excess oil from the skin while reducing odor. Simply using cornstarch is an option as well, but either of these methods is likely to be messy. If your cat suffers from oily skin, you should talk to your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause instead of just trying to deal with it using dry shampoo.

Giving your cat a bath is no cat owner’s idea of fun, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you’re looking for cat shampoo alternatives to make the process a little less painful you may want to consider waterless shampoo. Rather than going through the hassle of getting your cat into the tub (and keeping him there) you can simply spray on the shampoo and brush it out.

If you’re not sure whether waterless shampoo is the right option for your cat, all you can do is give it a try. Check out our recommendations above and try waterless shampoo for your cat’s next bath.


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