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Best Cat Shampoo

Best Cat Shampoo.

Most people, cat owners and non-cat owners alike, would never think of bathing a cat. This is partly because we tend to think of cats as being self-sufficient creatures, more or less. They keep themselves entertained, they hunt (whether we want them to or not), and they groom themselves. Among people who have thought of bathing cats, it’s a controversial topic. Some people dislike it, because the fact that cats normally groom themselves makes it seem “unnatural” to them. Others simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of bathing a cat, since most cats hate getting wet or being put in water.

However, the simple fact of the matter is that bathing a cat can be necessary, and this means that every cat owner should at least be prepared to bath their cat at a moment’s notice. Whether you have a type of cat that needs to be bathed often, like long-haired or hairless cats who have intense grooming needs, or just encounter a situation that warrants a bath, like your cat getting fleas or running into a skunk, the first thing you’ll need is a cat shampoo. Because it can be a difficult process, as well as one that has significant impacts on your cat’s health, it’s important to choose the right cat shampoo. If you’ve never thought about bathing your cat until today, don’t worry! You can use our list of the best cat shampoos to pick up a good shampoo for your feline friend right away.

What is Cat Shampoo?

Cat shampoo is generally used in the same way as human shampoo, but the actual product is very different. This is part of why it’s so critical that you get your cat their shampoo instead of just using yours whenever the need arises.

Cat waiting for shampoo in bath.

First of all, the pH levels in cat products are different from those in human products, because we have different pH tolerances than cats do. Using a shampoo on your cat that has the wrong pH for them could cause skin problems by drying them out: they may get flaky, inflamed, or even painful skin. This is because the pH of human skin is around 5.5, but the pH of cat skin is, on average, 7.5. While these numbers sound close together, the pH scale is logarithmic, so a pH difference of 1 indicates a tenfold difference in acidity; this means that something with a pH of 5.5 is one hundred times more acidic than something with a pH of 7.5, so human shampoos can safely be one hundred times more acidic than cat shampoos.

Cat shampoos are gentler, they are tested for cats, and they contain safe ingredients for cat skin. Even among different cat shampoo variations, these things remain the same.

Different Types

Cats, like humans, have different grooming needs depending on their hair and skin. There are different types of cat shampoo made for different your pets’ needs.

  • Hypoallergenic shampoo - Even though cat shampoo is formulated to be gentler than human shampoo, some of them are still too harsh for cats with allergies. Cats who are allergic to shampoo ingredients can get rashes, itchiness, and other skin issues from standard cat shampoo, so hypoallergenic cat shampoo is designed to get them clean without causing any negative reactions.
  • 2-in-1 shampoo - Long haired cat breeds can need a lot of grooming to maintain their look, so 2-in-1 shampoo conditioner can help you save time in bathing them. The shampoo part cleans the dirt and oil out of their hair, while the conditioner keeps the hair smooth and shiny.
  • Dry shampoo - Also called no-rinse shampoo or waterless shampoo, this can be used without actually bathing your cat. It’s a great option for people who simply can’t manage to get their cat in the bathtub or don’t want to cause them the stress of being put in water. You simply massage the leave-in product into your cat’s hair and let it do all of the rest of the work itself. It cleans and detangles the hair without the hassle of a full bath.
  • Veterinary shampoo - Cats with a history of skin infections or current skin infections may need a specially formulated shampoo; regular shampoo can be too harsh, but gentle or hypoallergenic shampoo may not do enough to treat their problems. Veterinary or clinical shampoo is often the answer for these animals.

How to Choose a Cat Shampoo

Cat taking first bath with best shampoo.

When choosing a cat shampoo for your feline friend, you should make your decision based on:

  • The cat’s skin and hair needs - Cats with normal skin, sensitive skin, and infected skin all have different needs that are taken care of by different types of shampoo. The first thing to think about when choosing a shampoo for your cat is what would be the healthiest and safest option for their skin.
  • Your ability to bathe them - Even if most cats don’t like water, some are less difficult about it than others. If your cat is truly impossible to get in the bathtub, then a dry shampoo may be the only option for you. On the other hand, if your cat actually doesn’t mind or even likes baths, then a longer shampooing and conditioning process may give more significant and visible results, especially with longer-haired breeds.
  • Scent and texture preferences - Unfortunately, your cat can’t tell you what kind of shampoo scents they prefer, but as the person using the shampoo on them, your preferences matter, too! You can pick the scent and texture of shampoo based on what you’d like to work with.

Things to Consider When Buying a Shampoo

Even if you won’t be using it all the time, there are a few important things to consider when buying a shampoo for your cat:

  • Cat’s breed - Cats with different types of hair and skin have different needs, and they’re also likely to encounter different grooming problems. Long-haired cats, short-haired cats, and hairless cats are likely to need different kinds of shampoo and have different levels of risk for infections and parasites. Even if you don’t know when or why you’ll need shampoo for them, you can make a good guess based on their breed and get a shampoo that fits the situations you’ll probably encounter with them.
  • Grooming frequency - How often you’ll need to use the shampoo may influence what kind you want to buy. If you’ll be washing your cat a lot, for example, then a dry shampoo or a 2-in-1 shampoo conditioner could save you time relative to separate shampoo and conditioner products.


Cat shampoo is a necessity that no household with cats should forget about, but it often slips through the cracks, especially since it’s only an occasional need for some cats. Even though cats can often get by with just grooming themselves, most cats will encounter some situations where they need to be groomed, and other cats need help with grooming regularly. Use your cat’s breed, their skin type and health, and your personal preferences about grooming them to find a shampoo that would work for both of you. You can take a look at our list of the best cat shampoos to find some high-quality options for every type of shampoo and every type of cat. You’ll both get used to it quickly, and you’ll be glad for the option to wash your cat when you encounter a situation in which it’s necessary.

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