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While bathing your cat might not be on the top of your list of fun activities to do with your cat, sometimes it’s a necessary evil. Our poor kitties can sometimes suffer from skin conditions that mean they need a medicated bath, while others might decide to roll in something sticky or oily that needs removing.
If you know you do have to bath your cat, then one way to make the job much easier is by choosing the best shampoo for the job. Selecting a shampoo specifically designed for cats is an absolute must, as is choosing one designed for your cat’s individual needs.
There’s a huge choice of cat shampoos to select from, so if you find your eyes glazing over as you look at all the options, we’re here to help. We’ve rounded up 10 of the best shampoos on the market today, all designed to help your cat look and feel their best. Our reviews include details of each shampoo, as well as pros and cons to help you choose the best one for your cat.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Veterinary Formula Clinical Care||
|Best Value||Frisco Oatmeal Shampoo||
|Premium Choice||Douxo Chlorhexidine||
|TropiClean 2 in 1||
The 10 Best Cat Shampoos — Reviews 2020
1. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Pet Shampoo — Best Overall
This medicated Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Pet Shampoo has antiseptic and antifungal ingredients to help solve skin irritations, including pyoderma and dermatitis. Available in two sizes, this shampoo contains soothing aloe vera and coconut oil-based cleansers to gently moisturize your cat’s skin.
The manufacturers recommend using this twice a week while treating your cat’s skin condition. Once that’s under control, you can still use this once a week to prevent any flare-ups. The active ingredients within this shampoo are designed to treat fungal, bacterial, and microbial infections. As a great all-rounder, we highly recommend keeping a bottle of this effective yet gentle shampoo on hand!
2. Frisco Oatmeal Shampoo — Best Value
If you’re looking for the best cat shampoo for the money, then Frisco Oatmeal Shampoo is definitely our recommendation. This hydrating and soothing shampoo uses oatmeal and coconut to gently nourish and cleanse your cat’s skin. It’s not medicated, but the addition of oats, as well as organic aloe vera, is designed to soothe and relieve dry and itchy skin.
While we absolutely love this shampoo, it missed out on the top spot because it’s not medicated. Still, there are no dyes or parabens used in this shampoo, so you can be confident that it’s a wonderful and effective shampoo that can be used weekly on your cat.
3. Douxo Chlorhexidine Cat Shampoo — Premium Choice
Whether your cat has a severe or mild skin condition caused by fungi or bacteria, then the Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Cat Shampoo can help control and eliminate this issue. The combination of chlorhexidine and climbazole helps manage your cat’s skin condition, while the lipacid acts to moisturize their skin and reduce inflammation.
For best results, you’ll need to use this shampoo with the Douxo Emulsion Spray or mousse, so while we do think this is an excellent choice, it just misses out on our top two positions for that reason. Because this is a medicated shampoo, you’ll also need to leave this on your cat for at least 10 minutes.
4. Zymox Enzymatic Cat Shampoo
If your cat is suffering from skin problems that have been caused by fungi, yeast, or bacterial infections, then the Zymox Enzymatic Cat Shampoo should help you get them back to the best of health. The enzymes within this shampoo are designed to powerfully remove the source of infections while leaving any healthy skin nourished.
The LP3 Enzyme System makes use of three strong yet natural enzymes to remove the source of irritation. Unlike many medicated shampoos, Zymox doesn’t contain any antibiotics, so you don’t need to worry about having to use this shampoo multiple times. The gentle formula also includes vitamin D3 to condition your cat’s skin and help them feel comfortable.
5. TropiClean Luxury 2 in 1 Papaya & Coconut Pet Shampoo
The TropiClean Luxury 2 in 1 Papaya & Coconut Pet Shampoo is a great choice for long-haired cats, as the coconut and mango ingredients are designed to help tangles brush out easily. The kiwi fruit and papaya within this shampoo also act to nourish and condition your cat’s skin. The bonus of these tropical ingredients is that your cat will smell delicious!
The soap-free formula won’t affect your monthly tick or flea spot-on treatments, meaning you can use this shampoo at any time without worrying that it will reduce the efficacy of those products.
6. HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo
The HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo is a great choice if you’re looking for a moisturizing shampoo designed to reduce itching and redness. The hypoallergenic ingredients include emollients and proteins, as well as essential fatty acids to help nourish your cat’s skin.
This shampoo can be used as often as you like, and won’t dry out your cat’s skin even after repeated applications. Due to the ingredients used, you’ll need to take care to protect this bottle from freezing (don’t store it in your garage over winter!) and make sure you use it well within the expiration date.
7. Furminator Hairball Prevention Cat Shampoo
If your cat has problems with hairballs and you’re looking for a solution, the Furminator Hairball Prevention Cat Shampoo is worth a try. This shampoo is designed specially to help reduce the heavy shedding that can result in hairballs.
The manufacturer, Furminator, does suggest that the shampoo works best when used with a combination of other solutions to combat hairballs, including daily brushing and weekly de-shedding. So, whether it’s those additional grooming sessions or the shampoo that reduce shedding, this product does help your cat develop a healthy coat and skin, so it’s a win-win situation!
8. Pro Pet Works Organic Oatmeal Pet Shampoo
The Pro Pet Works Organic Oatmeal Pet Shampoo has a pleasant cherry almond smell and includes vitamin E, as well as aloe vera, to help keep your cat’s coat in tip-top condition. It helps restore natural oils and reduce itching and dryness, thanks to the range of natural ingredients used.
This shampoo does make a large amount of suds, so we recommend starting with just a small amount and then adding more if necessary. Otherwise, it takes a long time to get your cat’s coat completely rinsed! This shampoo is made from all-natural ingredients and comes with a 100% money-back guarantee if it doesn’t match up to your expectations.
9. Burt’s Bees Cats Hypoallergenic Shampoo
If your cat has sensitive skin or suffers from allergies, the Burt’s Bees for Cats Hypoallergenic Shampoo is a good one to try out. This shampoo is suitable for all ages of cats, even tiny kittens. The mild formula has been recommended as 100% safe by veterinarians, thanks to its gentle ingredients.
Take note that if you want a shampoo that will make your cat smell better, this one probably isn’t for you. While it does have a mild smell, it’s practically unscented once your cat is dry. We also recommend starting off using a tiny amount only, as it’s quite tricky to rinse it out fully.
10. Puracy Natural Pet Shampoo
As our final suggestion, we have the Puracy Natural Pet Shampoo. This human-grade shampoo uses a range of plant-powered ingredients, including coconut, aloe, and oatmeal, to provide efficient cleaning with a pleasing fragrance. While it’s true that this shampoo does have a nice orange smell, it doesn’t seem to last for more than a day.
If your cat has allergies, though, this is a good choice because it can help reduce redness, dryness, allergies, and itchiness. The two-in-one formula adds moisture to your cat’s skin, as well as cleanses your cat’s coat.
There are many choices when it comes to selecting the best cat shampoo, so it’s worth taking the time to figure out what sort of shampoo your cat needs and why. Let’s go through a few reasons that you might need to bathe your cat, as well as dos and don’ts of choosing the best shampoo.
Why would my cat need a bath?
There are three main reasons that your cat is likely to need a bath: They have a skin condition and need a medicated shampoo, they’re shedding their fur and having problems with hairballs, or they’ve rolled or walked through something stinky.
Important things to consider when buying a cat shampoo.
Type of shampoo. You’ll need to decide if you need a medicated shampoo, shampoo for hairball control, or shampoo for general cleaning.
Scent. Cats have a sensitive sense of smell, as do some of their owners! Certain shampoos may smell too strong and be off-putting for your cat as a result. Other cat shampoos only have a mild scent or are completely unscented.
Ingredients. If your cat has sensitive skin, look for a hypoallergenic shampoo with limited ingredients. Some shampoos will also mention if their ingredients are eco-friendly, so if that’s important to you, then make sure this is something you check for.
Tear-free formula. Some cat shampoos are formulated with tear-free ingredients, meaning that if you accidentally get some in your cat’s eyes, it won’t irritate them too much.
Medicated cat shampoos
These are designed to treat specific skin conditions, including dermatitis, pyoderma, ringworm, and bacterial skin infections. Each shampoo will contain a specific blend of active ingredients designed to work on a particular issue.
If you suspect that your cat has a skin condition, then it’s best to speak to your veterinarian before buying any shampoo. They will be able to tell you what your cat is suffering from and recommend the type of shampoo you should use.
Many medicated cat shampoos are available to buy without a prescription, but unless you know the precise health problem you’re trying to treat, you may inadvertently end up buying a shampoo that isn’t designed to help your cat’s specific needs.
With medicated shampoos, it’s extra important to follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions when it comes to how to use the shampoo. Many medicated shampoos need to be left on your cat’s coat for up to 15 minutes so the active ingredients can penetrate your cat’s skin.
You may need to make repeated applications weekly while you get your cat’s skin condition under control and then change to weekly or monthly baths as a preventative.
Medicated cat shampoos are usually more expensive than regular shampoos, but this is simply due to the extra ingredients they contain. If your cat’s skin condition is making them suffer, then the cost of a medicated shampoo is worth it to help them feel more comfortable.
Cat shampoos for shedding and hairball control
Cats with long hair can have trouble grooming themselves sufficiently, especially when it comes to shedding season. As your cat grooms themselves, they end up ingesting a substantial amount of loose fur. Once swallowed, this fur causes a hairball. These can cause your cat to vomit, as well as potentially create a dangerous blockage in your cat’s intestine.
If you have a long-haired cat such as a Maine Coon or Persian, then using a shampoo specifically designed to help reduce shedding is an excellent idea. Of course, it’s best to combine this with regular grooming sessions, which are even more important in shedding season.
Regular cat shampoos
Lastly, we have regular cat shampoos that are simply designed to clean your cat’s skin and hair rather than treat a specific skin condition or problem. These are a great choice if your cat has rolled or walked through something unpleasant or oily.
Some regular cat shampoos can help reduce dander or moisturize itchy skin, but unlike medicated shampoos, they don’t contain any active ingredients.
You might see shampoos that use colloidal oatmeal as a way to relieve itchy and dry skin. Oatmeal also helps rebalance the pH level of your cat’s skin.
Can I use my shampoo on my cat?
While this might be tempting, especially if your cat needs a bath and you don’t yet have any shampoo for them, you definitely shouldn’t use your shampoo to give them a quick bath.
While human-grade shampoos, especially those formulated for babies and kids, sound as if they’d be gentle enough for use with cats, it’s not recommended. Cats are sensitive creatures and can react to ingredients such as sulfates and dyes, which are commonly found within shampoos for people.
Can I use dog shampoo on my cat?
This is a good question, especially as some pet shampoos are formulated for use on both cats and dogs.
But if you have a shampoo that’s specifically designed for dogs, it’s best not to use it on your cat. Some ingredients in medicated dog shampoo, such as permethrin, are safe for dogs but highly toxic to cats.
How often should I shampoo my cat?
Generally speaking, your cat shouldn’t need shampooing often at all. Cats are usually extremely proficient at grooming themselves, so unless they’ve got something nasty on their skin and hair like ash or oil, they won’t need bathing more than every six weeks or so at the very most.
One exception is if you’re using a medicated shampoo to treat a specific skin condition. Each manufacturer will specify how often to use their product for maximum efficiency. For example, some shampoos will need to be used twice a week for a month and then weekly after that.
Another exception is if you’re using shampoo to reduce shedding so your cat doesn’t develop harmful hairballs.
What do I need to shampoo my cat?
So, you’ve got our cat shampoo and your cat — the next step is combining the two! Now, most cat owners are well aware that most of their feline friends are not the biggest fans of water.
But there are a few simple steps you can take to make the whole bathing process go a bit more smoothly for you both. Make sure you’ve gathered all the following before you get started:
- A large shallow bucket, sink, or bath
- Cat shampoo
- Rubber gloves
- Pitcher or shower head for rinsing
- Face cloth or cotton balls
- Soft towels
- Cat brush
- Your cat!
Once you have everything you need, you can start bathing your cat. Some medicated shampoos need to be left on for up to 15 minutes to allow the active ingredients to do their job. If that’s the case, having treats to hand to keep your cat occupied and distracted is a good idea!
I cannot shampoo my cat — what should I do?
If you’ve tried (and failed) to shampoo your cat and they’re simply too wriggly, don’t worry!
Many pet groomers will be happy to bathe your cat for you, using whichever brand of cat shampoo you prefer. If your cat needs treatments with medicated shampoos regularly, then this can be a good solution for your cat and you! It’s also less stressful than trying to bathe a squirmy cat yourself, and you can feel confident that your groomer will be able to leave the medicated shampoo on for the correct amount of time, which is the biggest challenge to try and achieve at home!
We’ve selected the Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Pet Shampoo as our best cat shampoo overall. This medicated shampoo is formulated to efficiently treat a wide range of fungal, microbial, and bacterial skin infections. While it is medicated, it also contains moisturizing ingredients to keep your cat’s coat in tip-top condition.
The best value cat shampoo is the Frisco Oatmeal Shampoo. This nourishing formula contains colloidal oatmeal and organic aloe vera to provide a nourishing and soothing shampoo that can help with dryness and itching. It’s also great for removing general stains from your cat’s coat.
There’s plenty to choose from in our list, from medicated shampoos to those for hairball control or simply a gentle shampoo to cleanse your cat’s skin after they’ve rolled in engine oil or some other substance. We’re sure you’ll find a shampoo to suit your cat’s needs within our line-up.
While bathing a cat might not be the easiest job in the world, it’s always worth it if it makes your cat feel cleaner and more comfortable. Happy cats make for happy owners!
Featured image credit: DigiPD, Pixabay
Roland has been an animal lover all his life, with cats holding a special place in his heart. He is owned by three felines: Wheely, KitzKitz, and Nugget (all rescues) who bring all the laughter and mischievousness one can expect from the feline master race. As the creator of ExcitedCats, his mission is to assist in the search for the best gear to help improve the health and wellbeing of cats everywhere.