Last Updated on: October 27, 2020
Many cats don’t particularly enjoy being bathed, but sometimes it’s necessary.
Most cats never need shampooing, but if your cat has a skin condition that needs treating, or has simply rolled in something that you need to clean off, you may need to give them a bath. But what if you don’t have any cat shampoo?
Is it okay to use baby shampoo on your cat, or is this something to avoid?
Before we dig deeper into the details, yes, baby shampoo can be used on cats, but only very occasionally.
Why is cat shampoo better than baby shampoo?
Baby shampoo might seem like a great idea for bathing your cat; after all, if it’s gentle enough for babies, then it must be okay for cats too, right?
Baby shampoo is gentle, but it’s designed to be gentle on babies’ skin, not cats. The pH of our skin is around 5.5, and baby shampoo is designed to match that level so it doesn’t cause irritation or dryness.
The pH of your cat’s skin, on the other hand, is more like 7.5, so it’s more alkaline. Using a shampoo like baby shampoo, with a more acidic pH than your cat’s skin, can cause dryness, itchiness, and for your cat to potentially feel less comfortable than they did before you gave them that bath!
What about other human shampoos?
We wouldn’t recommend using any other human shampoos besides baby shampoo. Shampoos designed for adults are more likely to have fragrances, colors, sulfates, and parabens that can irritate your cat’s skin.
Other alternatives to baby shampoo
If you desperately need to shampoo your cat but don’t have any cat shampoo, there might be some gentler alternatives around your house that you can use instead of baby shampoo.
You can make a soothing oatmeal shampoo for cats using:
The oatmeal helps soothe your cat’s skin, while the baking soda helps neutralize any odors. Plenty of commercial cat shampoos also use oatmeal due to its moisturizing and protective qualities.
Another DIY cat shampoo recipe includes:
You could also consider using plain Dawn dish soap instead of baby shampoo. Don’t be tempted to use another brand, as it may not work as well. Dawn dish soap is frequently used by marine rescue organizations to clean oil off wildlife, as it’s gentle on their skin yet effective at removing grease and odors.
Wrapping it up
Baby shampoo is safe to use on your cat in an emergency. Remember that it’s not formulated to suit the pH of your cat’s skin, so it may leave their skin feeling dry and itchy after they’ve had their bath.
A better alternative is using one of our recipes for a gentle homemade cat shampoo instead.
Of course, the best option is making sure you have a bottle of cat shampoo in the cupboard for those occasional times when your cat really needs a bath. You can check out our recommendations for the best cat shampoos here.
Image Credit: KDdesignphoto, Shutterstock
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.