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5 DIY Cat Shampoos — Homemade Solutions You Can Make Today

cat bath

Cats are inherently clean animals that like to groom themselves and don’t often need baths. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to bathe your cat. Whether your cat has become unable to groom themselves or they’ve gotten into something nasty that has to be washed off, you may find yourself facing the dreaded cat bath.

Of course, you’ll need shampoo to wash your cat. Whether you prefer to make your own due to budgetary constraints or simply don’t have time to run out and find cat shampoo, you can make a safe and effective, all-natural shampoo with ingredients that you already have on hand. Here are five homemade solutions for cat shampoo.

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Top 5 DIY Cat Shampoo Recipes

1. Basic Cat Shampoo

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5 from 1 vote

Basic Cat Shampoo

If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-make shampoo that cleans the dirt off your cat, this is as basic as it gets. Your cat will come out clean, and there are no irritating ingredients.

Equipment

  • Bowl
  • Clean bottle

Materials

  • 4 cups warm water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup Dawn dish soap

Instructions

  • Carefully mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Then pour into a clean bottle or container. Avoid shaking the mixture too vigorously, as the Dawn dish soap will foam.
  • Wet your cat with lukewarm water, pour shampoo on them, and rub it in, making sure the soap reaches your cat’s skin.
  • Rinse your cat thoroughly.
  • Pat dry.

2. Moisturizing Cat Shampoo

Bubble bath a small gray stray cat
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

For cats with sensitive or dry skin, this moisturizing cat shampoo recipe will provide them with a bit of relief. It includes vegetable glycerin for extra moisture. If you are in a pinch and don’t have this ingredient on hand, you can substitute Dawn dish soap. The glycerin, however, adds extra moisturization that helps with dry skin.

What You'll Need:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups warm water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable glycerin
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Equipment:

  • Bottle or clean container
Steps:
  • Mix the ingredients in a clean bottle or container.
  • Follow the same bath procedure for your cat as described for the basic cat shampoo recipe.
  • If you used vegetable glycerin, take extra time rinsing, as it can sometimes stick to your cat’s skin.

 


3. Cat Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

Girl washes cat in the bath
Image Credit: Olleg, Shutterstock

Try this recipe for a gentle shampoo that doesn’t irritate sensitive skin. Oatmeal and baking soda are found in many commercial cat shampoos to help soothe dry skin and keep your cat’s fur soft.

What You'll Need:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon Dawn dish soap

Equipment:

  • Clean container
  • Bowl
Steps:
  • Grind the oatmeal in a bowl until it is a powder.
  • Mix the oatmeal powder with the rest of the ingredients into a container or bottle with a lid, and shake well.
  • Once your cat is wet, apply the shampoo, rubbing it into their skin. Then rinse off.

4. Homemade Dry Shampoo

cat in the bathtub
Image Credit: Irina Borodovskaya, Shutterstock

Human dry shampoo is typically made from a combination of cornstarch and alcohol designed to absorb oils from hair. For cats, heated oatmeal works well to refresh their fur without having a drying effect on their skin.

What You'll Need:

Ingredients:

  • Oatmeal

Equipment:

  • Oven
  • Oven-safe bowl or container
Steps:
  • Grind the oatmeal into a powder.
  • Heat the oatmeal powder on low heat (250° Fahrenheit) for approximately 5 minutes.
  • Be sure to brush your cat’s fur thoroughly before applying the oatmeal, making sure there are no tangles or knots.
  • Rub the heated oatmeal into your cat’s fur, and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes. (We highly recommend applying the oatmeal outside or in an area that can easily be swept.)
  • Brush your cat.

 


5. Dry Shampoo for Odor Control

cat wrapped in a towel after taking a bath
Image Credit: KDdesignphoto, Shutterstock

Most cats avoid becoming smelly, but if they need help with odor control, this homemade dry shampoo is designed for just that. Instead of oatmeal, it uses baking soda.

What You'll Need:

Ingredients:

  • Baking Soda

Equipment:

  • Oven
  • Oven-safe bowl or container
Steps:
  • Pour baking soda into an oven-safe bowl, and heat for 5 minutes in the oven at 250°
  • Like with the dry oatmeal shampoo, make sure your cat’s fur is free of tangles, and apply the baking soda outdoors or over an easy-to-sweep floor.
  • Apply to your cat and let sit for 5 minutes. Then brush it out.

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Considerations for Homemade Cat Shampoo

It’s important to know that you shouldn’t use shampoo meant for humans on a cat. Shampoos are designed to support the skin’s pH level, and people and cats have very different skin. Human shampoo will result in your cat having extremely dry skin.

Also, don’t add essential oils to cat shampoo in an effort to improve the smell. These can be toxic to your cat if they ingest the oils through self-grooming or if they are absorbed into the skin.

Alternatives to Cat Shampoo

dishwashing detergent dispenser on a woman's hand
Image Credit: ViDI Studio, Shutterstock

If you’re in a rush or don’t have the ingredients on hand to make cat shampoo, you still have options. Here are a few safe alternatives that you can use to bathe your cat. While it’s not a good idea to use them regularly, they will work when you’re in a pinch.

  • Dawn dish soap: This dish soap is famous for its use in cleaning wildlife rescued from oil spills. It’s an effective detergent that is safe for animals.
  • Baby shampoo: While it will dry out your cat’s skin with extended use, baby shampoo is gentle enough for your cat’s delicate skin.
  • Castile soap: Made with olive oil, this soap is moisturizing and gentle. Just make sure it is 100% pure castile soap and doesn’t have any added ingredients.
  • Baby wipes: Makeup or baby wipes can be used for a quick spot clean on your cat, especially if you need to get out a sticky spot. Be sure the wipes are fragrance free and don’t contain any chemicals that might irritate your cat’s skin.

Please note that these alternatives are best saved for emergency uses only and should not be used on a regular basis to bathe your cat.

See Also:

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Final Thoughts

It is probably ideal to keep cat shampoo on hand, so you aren’t scrambling in an emergency. Mixing up one of these DIY solutions ahead of time will help you be prepared. Since cats don’t need to be bathed often, it should last a while. But if you do find yourself with a messy cat and no shampoo, there are safe alternatives.


Featured Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

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