10 Best Waterless Cat Shampoos 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated on: October 14, 2020

gray cat newly bathe

Did you know that it can be harmful to bathe your cat too often? It may sound like a carefully crafted feline lie, but most healthy cats just don’t need baths more than once a month. Excessive bathing can strip their natural oils, make fur brittle, and dry out their skin.

And for cats that have recently had surgery, baths and water cleaning are usually out of the question. Waterless cat shampoo can be an effective way to spot clean problem areas or simply to keep your feline friend sweet and fresh in between more rigorous grooming.

Now that you have your cat’s heartfelt approval, how do you go about wading through all the different shampoos out there? By letting the cat experts help you out, of course!

With the help of some volunteer feline testers, we’ve rounded up 10 of the most available waterless cat shampoos. We’re confident that with our valuable knowledge, thorough reviews, and helpful tips that you will be able to find the perfect shampoo for your cat and your wallet!

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Burt's Bees Waterless Shampoo Burt's Bees Waterless Shampoo
  • 8% all-natural ingredients
  • Light fragrance from natural sources
  • Mild, pH balanced for cats and kittens
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Ark Naturals Waterless Cat Shampoo Ark Naturals Waterless Cat Shampoo
  • Easy to handle foam
  • More shampoo for less money
  • Three essential oils for fragrance and hydration
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Bodhi Waterless Lavender Dry Shampoo Bodhi Waterless Lavender Dry Shampoo
  • All-natural formula
  • Simple, only 3 ingredients
  • Natural fragrance, lightly scented
  • Pet Head Cat Dry Clean Waterless Shampoo Pet Head Cat Dry Clean Waterless Shampoo
  • Natural moisturizers and oils
  • pH balanced for cats
  • Lots of shampoo at a low cost
  • Mooncat Waterless Cat Shampoo Mooncat Waterless Cat Shampoo
  • Natural cleansers and oils
  • Designed for sensitive skin and kittens
  • Tearless formula
  • The 10 Best Waterless Cat Shampoos – Reviews 2020

    1. Burt’s Bees Waterless Shampoo – Best Overall

    Burt's Bees Waterless Shampoo

    Burt’s Bees is a well-trusted brand for human skincare, and their pet products are more of the same. The company adheres to high-quality standards, strives to use only natural ingredients when possible, and is fair in their pricing.

    Our kitty testers were unfazed by the smell too, which is exceptionally light and slightly sweet. No harsh, synthetic fragrances here – just honey and apple extract!

    This waterless cat shampoo would make a great first choice for nearly any cat or kitten. It is almost all-natural, and the short ingredient list makes it a great choice to introduce your cat to the concept of waterless shampoo.

    Pros
    • 8% all-natural ingredients
    • Mild, pH balanced for cats and kittens
    • Light fragrance from natural sources
    • Low-end price, high-quality ingredients
    Cons
    • Must keep out of eyes

    2. Ark Naturals Waterless Cat Shampoo – Best Value

    Ark Naturals Waterless Cat Shampoo

    Ark Naturals is a US-made company that puts thought into their pet products. Natural ingredients like cedar and balsam oil will keep your cat’s skin hydrated and fresh smelling. And the synthetic ingredients are few and help keep costs reasonable.

    Though naturally fragranced, the scent of this waterless shampoo is quite strong. A few cats were not enthused by the smell, but none disliked it enough to put up a fuss.

    Ark Naturals is a great choice for those with multiple cats and is the best waterless cat shampoo for the money. But if your cat has a super sensitive nose, it may be wise to try another brand first.

    Pros
    • Easy to handle foam
    • Three essential oils for fragrance and hydration
    • More shampoo for less money
    • Made in the USA
    Cons
    • General cat and dog formula
    • Must avoid contact with eyes and mouth

    3. Bodhi Waterless Lavender Dry Shampoo – Premium Choice

    Bodhi Waterless Lavender Dry Shampoo

    Though waterless shampoo is not a good stand-in for a bath, the Bodhi shampoo is the closest you’ll get without dunking your poor feline.

    This super-simple formula is made with a coconut surfactant: a natural, biodegradable, non-toxic substance that acts as a detergent to help get your cat extra clean. There are only two other ingredients too, and those are water and lavender extract.

    We love the all-natural formula and the added cleansing power. However, the price leaves something to be desired. Luckily, for one or two cats you shouldn’t have to replace your bottle often.

    Pros
    • All-natural formula
    • Simple, only 3 ingredients
    • Natural fragrance, lightly scented
    • Contains a non-toxic cleanser
    Cons
    • More expensive, less volume

    4. Pet Head Cat Dry Clean Waterless Shampoo

    Pet Head Cat Dry Clean Waterless Shampoo

    Looking for a reasonably priced waterless shampoo that will last you a while? Pet Head is an excellent, middle of the road option. Good quality ingredients at a low price.

    Though the ingredient list is quite long, the majority of them are natural. Aloe vera, vitamin E, and coconut ingredients are there to help your cat’s natural fur oils shed dirt and hydrate skin.

    However, the unnatural scent on this waterless shampoo can be quite off-putting. It smells too sweet, more like a candy than a shampoo. Some of our cat testers wouldn’t go near it, and other reviewers mention similar issues with this brand.

    Pros
    • Natural moisturizers and oils
    • pH balanced for cats
    • Lots of shampoo at a low cost
    Cons
    • Strong synthetic fragrance
    • Lengthy ingredient list, a few synthetic

    5. Mooncat Waterless Cat Shampoo

    Mooncat Waterless Cat Shampoo

    The coolest part about Mooncat is that it’s 97.6% natural and completely hypoallergenic. You won’t have to worry about synthetic ingredients or poor-quality oils irritating your cat’s skin. It is even tear-free, so no need to worry if your cat is a little thrashy and gets some on their face.

    We did notice, however, that there is a slight, sticky residue left after using it as directed. This added a few steps to the grooming process, as it necessitated a washcloth wipe down too. And some of our kitty testers were majorly unhappy with the extra fussing.

    Besides the need to clean shampoo from the cat, we also aren’t fans of the big price tag and small bottle. For one cat or cats with especially sensitive skin, this is a great product. But for a multi-cat home, it is not very cost-effective.

    Pros
    • Natural cleansers and oils
    • Designed for sensitive skin and kittens
    • Tearless formula
    • Mild scent
    Cons
    • Slight residue, requires added steps
    • High price for a small amount

    6. Furminator 202005 My Furst Waterless Shampoo

    Furminator 202005 My Furst Waterless Shampoo

    The Furminator waterless shampoo for kittens is designed for sensitive skin. It has little fragrance, minimal preservatives, and most of the ingredients are completely safe and natural.

    We love the number of oils and vitamins for supporting healthy fur and hydrating skin. Included in this formula are aloe vera, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and chamomile.

    There is even a mild, non-toxic cleanser in this brand which will do a bit more for urine and dirt than many other waterless shampoos.

    The bottle is quite small for the price and is a better purchase for kittens and single cat homes.

    Pros
    • Mild cleansers
    • Overwhelmingly natural ingredients
    • Sensitive enough for kittens
    • Healthy oils for skin and fur
    Cons
    • Must avoid eye contact
    • Pricey for the small volume

    7. TropiClean Waterless Deep Cleaning Cat Shampoo

    TropiClean Waterless Deep Cleaning Cat Shampoo

    TropiClean’s deep clean formula is overwhelmingly made from natural, non-toxic ingredients and has a pleasantly light aroma.

    The foam is easy to pump with a single hand, and highly convenient. We wish the bottle were a bit larger for the price, but for a single cat or kitten, you won’t go through it very fast.

    We did not appreciate that this shampoo left an unfortunate amount of sticky residue behind when used in the amounts directed. If you don’t want to deal with giving a real bath after this waterless bath, we recommend using a significantly smaller amount to start.

    Pros
    • Easy to use foam
    • pH balanced for cats
    • 99% natural ingredients
    Cons
    • A little expensive for the volume
    • Must avoid eyes and ears
    • Sticky residue

    8. Bio-Groom Waterless Cats Shampoo

    Bio-Groom Waterless Cats Shampoo

    Reasonably priced and free of alcohol and parabens, Bio-Groom may be worth trying for larger cat families. It boasts a tears free formula, which will be a huge plus for cat parents with squirmy children.

    However, the overwhelming smell of this product means that some cats won’t even be convinced to allow its use. The strong, cleaning solution smell was even off-putting to us.

    Perhaps our least favorite part is that this formula contains unnecessary artificial dyes and synthetic fragrance. With ingredients like that it calls into question the veracity of the “tearless” claim.

    Pros
    • Tearless formula
    • No alcohol or parabens
    Cons
    • Contains artificial colors
    • Strongly scented, synthetic fragrance
    • Formulated for dogs and cats, not specific

    9. Wahl 820015A Pet Friendly Waterless Shampoo

    Wahl 820015A Pet Friendly Waterless Shampoo

    Wahl’s waterless shampoo smells great and boasts a vast array of natural, hydrating ingredients. Aloe vera, oatmeal, and coconut oil are all great for a cat’s skin and fur.

    However, the good ingredients cannot cover up the bad. The very first one on the list is sodium laureth sulfate, a synthetic cleanser that can be drying and irritating. It even has completely unnecessary added caramel color.

    We do not recommend this product for kittens and cats with sensitive skin. It may be one of the more pleasant-smelling waterless shampoos, but the ingredients are much lower quality than the high price implies.

    Pros
    • Foam, easy one-handed use
    • Pleasant, natural scent
    Cons
    • Main ingredient is a synthetic cleanser
    • Unnecessary synthetic color
    • Expensive

    10. Fort Dodge Waterless Cats Shampoo

    Fort Dodge Waterless Cats Shampoo

    We were confused to be unable to locate an ingredient list for this product, either on the bottle or on the company’s website. That’s quite suspicious for any shampoo, and particularly for pet care.

    Though the lack of transparency from Fort Dodge is a concern, many reviewers sing the praises of this brand for cleaning urine from elderly or handicapped animals. As a spot cleaner, it can work wonders for the dog or cat that can’t get a full bath.

    Pros
    • Recommended for urine spot treatment
    Cons
    • Very expensive
    • No ingredients list
    • Company accused of unsafe practices

    Buyer’s Guide

    Frequently Asked Questions About Waterless Cat Shampoo

    Can waterless cat shampoo remove stains or dirt?

    Truthfully, waterless cat shampoo isn’t designed to replace baths. What it is great for is freshening your cat’s coat and skin up, moisturizing, and helping remove odors.

    If your cat walks in the door covered in mud or other tenacious substances, you still need to bite the bullet and give them a real bath.

    Do cats even need to be bathed?

    If you’ve ever seen how frequently some cats groom themselves, you may have wondered if most cats even need things like waterless shampoos and baths.

    To the chagrin of many cats, the answer is yes. There are several conditions that require your help to rectify. Mats, excessive shedding, and dandruff are all signs that your kitty needs a little more grooming attention.

    Routine maintenance of your cat’s fur will keep them clean and their skin healthy. Brushing and waterless shampoo are a great component of regular grooming for dealing with or heading off simpler issues like dry skin and shedding.

    However, waterless shampoo won’t get rid of filth, dead skin, germs, or any nasty substances your cat may have picked up. You will still need to bathe your cat fully on occasion.

    What if my cat ingests some waterless shampoo?

    If the shampoo you have chosen contains potentially harmful like synthetic chemicals, solvents, artificial colors, or formaldehyde you should do your best to limit their ability to ingest it. Follow the directions scrupulously and remove as much as possible with a towel after applying.

    However, sometimes being careful isn’t enough. If your cat gets a mouthful of chemical-laden shampoo it would be wise to contact your vet immediately.

    If you have chosen a waterless shampoo with all-natural ingredients it is a much less dangerous situation. It may still be wise to call your vet if the amount was significant but choosing non-toxic brands will give you a lot less to worry about.

    We recommend that you familiarize yourself with all the ingredients in the shampoo you choose as a precautionary measure. Here is a list of plants toxic to cats from the ASPCA.

    Can waterless shampoo help my cat with fleas?

    Unless a waterless shampoo is specifically formulated to treat fleas, you should never assume that it will. Often baths are recommended to help with fleas because the water will drown them or wash them off your kitty, but a basic waterless shampoo won’t do either of those.

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    Safe and Effective Ingredients in Waterless Cat Shampoo

    Natural ingredients

    It’s always better to go with natural ingredients when you have the choice. With synthetic chemicals, you may have a hard time telling what will and won’t react poorly to your cat’s skin, and who wants to take that risk?

    Natural ingredients are all around easier on the skin, and if you do notice an allergic reaction, you’re far more likely to be able to pick out the culprit from an ingredient list with five things on it rather than 20!

    Essential oils

    Ditch those dubious synthetic, often alcohol-based fragrances. Your cat’s waterless shampoo can still get them smelling as clean as they look with the help of natural essential oils.

    Cats also have a certain amount of natural oil on their fur to help keep their skin hydrated, as well as guard against cold and damp weather. Essential oils will also help lock in moisture and keep skin healthy.

    Be mindful that some cats are extremely sensitive to strong smells, so let them take a whiff before applying.

    Hydrating ingredients

    Hydration is key to keeping your cat’s skin clean and healthy. Naturally hydrating ingredients that are unlikely to irritate your feline’s skin include:

    • Aloe vera
    • Coconut oil
    • Colloidal oatmeal
    • Vitamin E
    gray cat with towel
    Image: KDdesignphoto, Shutterstock

    Ingredients to Avoid in Waterless Cat Shampoo

    Synthetic chemicals and fragrances

    Our feline friends have different needs for their hair and skin, and often their skin can be more sensitive than humans.

    Shampoos with long lists of synthetic ingredients are far more likely to rub your cat the wrong way. To forestall any possible irritation, stick to mostly or all-natural.

    Don’t forget that cats lick themselves when they groom all the time. Whatever is in the waterless shampoo you use will eventually get in their mouth, so make sure the ingredients are as safe as possible.

    Formaldehyde? Drying alcohols? Both are unfortunately common ingredients in skincare products and should be avoided.

    Parabens and phthalates

    Speaking of nasty synthetic ingredients, two incredibly common ones that you should definitely avoid are phthalates and parabens.

    Phthalates are a family of chemicals for industrial use that are softeners and solvents. And parabens are now designated as a carcinogen, which means it has the possibility of causing cancer.

    Think about it this way: would you use an industrial solvent on your cat’s skin? If not, then avoid these kinds of additives.

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    Conclusion

    Burt’s Bees Waterless Shampoo is our best overall pick with the winning combination of 99.8% natural ingredients, super light scent, and reasonable price for the quality. Great for sensitive skin and kittens!

    And for feline parents that are on a budget or have multiple cats, we recommend checking out the best value choice, Ark Naturals Waterless Cat Shampoo.

    Hopefully, these reviews and handy tips can help get your cat’s grooming routine down pat and scratch-free.

    Happy bathing!


    Featured Image: KDdesignphoto, Shutterstock