Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > Can You Use Baby Shampoo on Cats? Vet Reviewed Concerns & Tips

Can You Use Baby Shampoo on Cats? Vet Reviewed Concerns & Tips

cat bath

Vet approved

Dr. Tabitha Henson Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Tabitha Henson

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Cats are well-known for their hatred of water. With some rare exceptions of cats who love it, bathing probably isn’t your cat’s favorite experience. Regardless, there are times when it’s necessary to get your cat clean, and since many cats don’t get bathed regularly, you might not have cat shampoo on hand. Baby shampoo is one of the most common substitutes for pet shampoo due to its gentle ingredients. But can you use baby shampoo on cats? The short answer is yes, it’s safe but not ideal.

Let’s take a closer look at why baby shampoo isn’t the best choice for your cat and what you should look for instead.

divider-cat

Is Baby Shampoo Safe for Cats?

While baby shampoo is safe for cats and usually works for a quick clean, there are better options. Baby shampoo is designed for human babies, not cats. So, while it won’t hurt to use baby shampoo occasionally, cat shampoos do a better job of taking care of your cat’s hair and skin.

Cat shampoos contain ingredients designed for the delicate pH balance of a cat’s skin rather than a human’s. Most cat shampoos are also formulated so they don’t wash off topical flea-and-tick applications, which is a definite plus.

woman selecting shampoo or conditioner in a pet store
Image Credit By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Tips for Choosing a Cat Shampoo

The best way to choose a quality shampoo for your cat is to look at the ingredients. In most cases, you want to avoid artificial ingredients, like:

  • Alcohol
  • Parabens
  • Phenol
  • Permethrin
  • Pyrethrins
  • Pyergroids

Look for cat shampoos with ingredients like aloe and lanolin that are soothing to your pet’s skin. Strong perfumes can be irritating, so it’s best to choose one that’s also fragrance-free. If your cat suffers from dry skin, there are several shampoo options to treat that.

Giving your pet a bath can be a difficult task, but the first step is to choose a great shampoo. We love Hepper's Shampoo Products, both of which are natural, pet-safe options specially formulated to clean your pet's skin and coat without causing irritation. Both formulas are also free of things like dyes, soaps, sulfates, and phthalates. Your pet will enjoy the soothing aloe vera and oatmeal, and you'll love the clean, fresh scents!

Hepper oatmeal shampoo Hepper dry shampoo
Hepper Colloidal Oatmeal Pet Shampoo Hepper Waterless No Rinse Pet Shampoo
Natural Ingredients
Natural Ingredients:
Natural Ingredients:
Made in USA
Made in USA:
Made in USA:
Safe for cats & dogs
Safe for cats & dogs:
Safe for cats & dogs:
Soothes dry skin
Soothes dry skin:
Soothes dry skin:
Waterless, no rinsing required
Waterless, no rinsing required:
Waterless, no rinsing required:

At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

Is It Necessary to Bathe My Cat?

Cats groom themselves naturally, so it’s not always necessary to bathe them. However, there are occasions where you might need to, like if your cat soiled themselves in the litter box if they get fleas or if your toddler decided to paint them.

Even if you haven’t yet had an incident where you need to bathe your cat, it’s a good idea to know what to do if the situation arises.

Cute cat in the bathtub
Image Credit By: sophiecat, Shutterstock

How Do I Bathe My Cat?

Bathing a cat can be a daunting task because most of them have an extreme aversion to water. Getting the process over with as soon as possible seems like the best plan, but it’s important to make sure you rinse out all the shampoo to avoid causing itchy skin.

To bathe your cat, you’ll need the following:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Shampoo
  • A pitcher or spray nozzle
  • A large towel
  • Cotton balls for ear cleaning
  • A small cloth for wiping the face

The easiest place to wash your cat is in the bathroom or the kitchen sink. Have all your supplies at hand before you round up your kitty!

  • We strongly recommend wearing rubber gloves to bathe your cat. Even the nicest cats can scratch when scared or scrambling to get out of the water!
  • Fill the sink with warm (not hot) water.
  • Wet your cat from shoulders to tail, and apply shampoo.
  • Lather and rinse.
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe your cat’s face and head, carefully avoiding their eyes.
  • Clean the inside of your cat’s ears with a cotton ball and cat ear cleaner.
  • Lift your cat out and fold them up in the towel.
  • Rub off as much water as possible.

Don’t rush your cat’s bath as much as you may want to. Be efficient but thorough and gentle. Most cats won’t enjoy bath time, but getting them clean while they’re there is important.

bathing a persian cat
Image Credit By: 135pixels, Shutterstock

What to Do When It Is Impossible to Bathe Your Cat

Some cats make it nearly impossible to bathe them. Whether they are anxious or just antisocial, some cats behave badly when you try to put them in the bath. If your cat becomes violent and scratches or bites excessively when placed in water, don’t feel like you have to endure it to get your cat clean. There are a few other options.

First, find a groomer who works with cats. You will have to pay for the job, but if your cat really needs a bath and you can’t do it yourself, the price tag will be worth it. Some groomers can even come to your house to provide their services, making it much easier if you have an anxious cat.

If a groomer isn’t available, you can try a less-invasive option, like dry shampoo for cats or grooming cat wipes. While they won’t do as thorough a job as a bath, they can still get your cat clean.divider-cat

Final Thoughts

It is safe to use baby shampoo on your cat, but it isn’t the best choice for their overall health. While it won’t cause any harm with occasional use, cat shampoo is a better choice. It’s specifically formulated to promote feline skin and coat health, and there are special formulas available to help address any health issues, like dry skin. While it’s not necessary to bathe your cat regularly, there are times when you need to. Knowing how to bathe your cat safely will make it a more pleasant experience for you and your cat.

See also:


Featured Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets