Can I Use Baby Shampoo On My Cat


BetterWithCats.net may earn a small commission when you use one of the links on this page to purchase.
Can I Use Baby Shampoo On My Cat

I think we all know that there’s nothing a cat hates more than water, apart from some rare exceptions, documented by the cat-video community.

Still, sometimes we have to bathe our cats and because this isn’t always a planned process you might just try to use whatever you have around the house to get your cat clean. One of the most common household substitutes is baby shampoo.

But can you use baby shampoo on your cat? Unless it’s an absolute emergency, it’s always best practice to use cat-specific shampoo on cats. Other shampoos, including baby shampoo, may irritate and dry out a cat’s skin along with exposing cats to some unhealthy compounds that they can ingest when they groom. 

Let’s dive deeper and discover why baby shampoo may not be suitable for your cat, what products are, and why you might need them!

Should You Bathe A Cat?

Before we answer whether it’s a good idea to wash your cat with baby shampoo it’s important to mention if bathing them is a good idea in general. I think if our cats could give us their own opinion, most of them would yell a loud “NO.”

The reason behind this distaste for water is probably hidden behind their ability to always look dashing, thanks to their self-grooming tool, the tongue. A cat’s entire tongue is covered in tiny spines, called papillae, which may feel rough on our furless skin, but it’s the perfect tool for keeping our cats looking amazing.

Still, there are times when a cat needs to be bathed. While these are few and far between, if a cat has been exposed to something that would toxic for them to consume then bathing is in order. There are also cases where a cat’s powerful tongue just won’t be able to do the trick, most often with sticky or especially oily substances.

Can You Wash A Cat With Baby Shampoo?

The simple answer is no, and the reason is equally simple, cats have different skin than humans and thus their needs are different. You see a cat’s balanced pH levels are more neutral and depending on the region they’re living, range from 6.39 to 6.64. Humans on the other hand have a much lower skin pH balance, which is more acidic and on average is below 5.

While a baby shampoo can be gentle and not as harsh as a regular human shampoo it’s still not made for cats. Bathing your cat with baby shampoo will most likely disrupt the pH balance and the acid mantle, which is a thin layer on the skin that discourages contamination by viruses and bacteria and maintains hydration.

If for any medical or unique to your cat reasons you need to wash their fur regularly, make sure you ask your vet what’s the best choice for your kitty!

Can I Use Baby Shampoo On My Kitten?

Most adult cats are pros at cleaning themselves, but kittens might need some assistance to stay clean. By keeping their coat clean cats also keep themselves healthy, but since kittens can be less thorough their cat-owners are responsible instead.

According to AHS shelters “dirt, bacteria, and leftover food residue can cause skin infections in young kittens called pyoderma.” Since kittens can be quite messy with food and their litter box, a warm bath can be necessary, but baby shampoo should be the last choice for a grooming product.

Kittens are equally if not more, sensitive than grown cats and that’s why it’s important that the shampoo you’ll use is approved by your vet. Only if you’re out of options and it’s an emergency, hypoallergenic and fragrance-free baby shampoo can do the trick, but you can’t use it on a regular basis.

Which Shampoos Are Suitable For Cats?

Well, first of all, it should be a cat shampoo, and if you’re positive that your cat has no medical issues, skin infection, or a flea infestation, a regular hypoallergenic cat shampoo will work just fine.  I highly recommend Pro Pet Works oatmeal shampoo which you can see on Amazon. Their formula is pH balanced for cats, it’s free of soap and other chemicals that will dry out your cat’s skin

If you take your cat to the vet you’ll find that there are plenty of options and consultation can help you decide which is most suitable for your fluffball. If your kitty has dry skin a feline-friendly conditioning shampoo might work wonders and bring their coat back to its luscious fluffiness.

A tick and flea control shampoos designed for cats can be a lifesaver for you and your outdoor-loving feline companion. For longhaired kitties that tend to shed more, you can find shampoos for shedding and hairballs!

Finally, if you can’t get your cat anywhere near water without them tearing you to pieces a waterless shampoo might be a great option for you! They usually come in foam, spray, and powder form, which can help your cat stay clean and shiny no matter what mess they get themselves into.

Before using a product remember to check the label and make sure that it’s safe to use on your cat specifically.

Is It Ok To Never Bathe My Cat?

In most cases, it’s completely okay to never bathe your cat. That’s because our feline friends are great at keeping their fur clean all on their own. However, there may come a time when your kitty will need some extra assistance.

So, basically never say never, even if it has to do with your kitty’s hygiene!

Reasons Why Your Cat Might Need To Be Bathed

I know I used science to tell you that cats don’t need a bath, but now it’s time to talk about the instances when your kitty might actually need one!

1. Flea Infestation

Given the chance, fleas will hop on your kitty’s fur and it won’t take them long to create a family of their own in this comfortable environment. While living on your cat is a great prospect for any flea and its colony, it certainly isn’t for your cat. Not only do they cause itching, but they can also carry different diseases.

According to veterinarians, “Indeed, these tiny, wingless creatures often carry infectious agents themselves, such as tapeworm eggs and a variety of pernicious bacteria—including the organism that causes feline infectious anemia—which can be passed among cats that are in close physical contact.”

2. Something Got Stuck To Their Coat

Cats can be quite the explorers and this adventurous quality can lead to dirty coats covered in cobwebs or worse. Of course, they can be quite capable of cleaning themselves, but a certain substance can be toxic for them.

Cats that venture outside of their home by accident or because they’re also allowed to be outdoors can end up in unpleasant situations, like getting covered with gasoline or motor oil stains. In cases like these, it’s important to give your cat a bath and carefully clean their fur. Cat shampoo can help take apart a sticky substance and it will make sure the coat is completely clean, healthy, and stink-free.

3. Medical Reasons

Another common reason a cat may need a bath is if they’re incapable of cleaning themselves. This can oftentimes be observed in elderly cats. Just like humans, as cats get older they can exhibit disorders associated with aging that can affect their behavior. This means that your cat might groom themselves less frequently which can result in, “hair matting, skin odor, and inflammation.”

Because obese cats and cats with arthritis can experience problems with their mobility, they might have trouble with keeping their coat clean as well. Cats that that are easily stressed can also soil themselves or a healthy kitty could simply step into their own mess by accident.

No matter the circumstances, a good and careful bath can help you turn a smelly cat into a shiny fluffball!

4. Your Cat’s Breed

Finally, a kitty’s need for a bath could have something to do with their breed or to be more specific the type of coat they have. For example, for cats that don’t have any fur, like the Sphynx, “periodic baths are indeed needed in order to remove body oils.”

You can see that this little adorable Sphynx is definitely enjoying a good and necessary bath!

Long-haired cats on the other hand could also find it hard to clean their own fur, especially at their back. Maine Coon cats are known for their long coat and they also love the outdoors, so it makes sense that they need good grooming, and a bath now and again could help them keep their coats smooth and silky!

Can I Use Dog Shampoo To Wash My Cat?

While they’re both domestic animals and share their lives with us, it doesn’t mean they can be treated the same way and the same goes for the shampoo. Dr, Marty Becker DVM states that “if you use a dog shampoo that contains ingredients for combating fleas, you may put your cat at risk.

Sometimes you may not know if your cat has a skin condition and bathing them with an unsuitable shampoo can trigger it, or even cause an allergic reaction. That’s why the best way to know which products will work for a kitten or a grown cat is to ask your vet. They’ll give your kitty’s fur a thorough investigation, advise you on the right grooming products, and a safe feline-friendly shampoo!

And now that I think about it, what would your cat think if you were trying to wash them with dog shampoo?

Why Is My Cat Licking Their Fur After Bathing With Shampoo?

I know how it may seem, you put your heart and soul into making your cat’s bath time the best experience they can have and once you’re done, they start licking themselves clean again. You might start to question your methods and to be fair, perhaps you should.

Of course, chances are your kitty is simply trying to dry their coat after the bath, but if you didn’t rinse off the shampoo properly, they might be trying to get read of this strange substance, especially if they can detect its smell.

Leigh Pitsko, the assistant curator of great cats at the National Zoo explains this behavior by saying that “if they have something really stinky on them, they’re going to have to get it off.” This is an instinctive behavior that helps them conceal themselves from the prey that they’re approaching.

It’s important to remember that digesting soap can be dangerous and cause digestive irritations. The leftover shampoo could also dry the skin and cause discomfort and excessive licking.

Bathing overall can be a traumatic experience for cats, because as we all know most of them hate being wet. Licking their fur right after might be a way to soothe and comfort themselves. If your cat is too stressed by the occasional baths, this could become a habit and turn into an excessive behavior causing skin irritation and even bold spots, called psychogenic alopecia.

That’s why only give your kitty a bath when it’s necessary, and make sure their bathing environment is as stress-free as possible. Don’t forget to rinse their coat well and make sure that it’s dried off properly!

Bathing Rumors You Better Avoid

I’m sure most of us want what’s best for our fluffy lordlings, but when looking online you can find that there are different opinions that are oftentimes contradictory. In the case of bathing products for cats, some may have been wondering if there are harmless alternatives to cat shampoos.

Johnson’s Baby Shampoo

The market is full of baby shampoos, but Johnson’s baby with their “no more tears” slogan might be one of the most famous ones. While they may work for humans, adults and babies alike they’re still not designed for cats. This makes it an unwise option no matter how gentle Johnson’s baby shampoo claims to be.

Castile Soap

Another popular belief is that castile soap can be used on pets because it’s more moisturizing. According to Dr. Bronner’s soaps, the essential oils that you find in soaps could pose a threat to a cat’s health.

While their castile soap contains around 1 or 2 percent, the baby-unscented pure-castle soaps are better, but are they really better than a cat shampoo? Well, you should let your vet make the decision.

Dish Soap

A similar question that has been circulating was whether dish soap is suitable for cats and kittens. Even a mild version of dish soap or a diluted one isn’t properly formulated for our feline friends. Since our cats are not made of the same material as our dishware, I think the best option is the one your vet recommends!

Baby Wipes

Some of you might be afraid of wetting your cat, and that’s completely understandable since most cats can’t stand water, probably as much as they hate getting their nails cut. So, what do you do when you see your cat strolling along covered in something sticky and possibly stinky?

You might think baby wipes can do the trick, but once again they’re not a safe solution, because even if they’re not scented they have harmful and unpleasant ingredients for your cat. Instead of looking for possible alternatives, the best solution for your cat and their health care products are the ones pecifically designed for their needs.

So, if you’re afraid to wash your cat with water ask your vet to recommend you a suitable dry cat shampoo!

Closing Thoughts

Cats might not be too keen on taking a warm bubble bath like their human companions, but sometimes it’s a necessary step in securing their long-term health and happiness.

Thankfully the advances humanity has made, also include the invention of feline-friendly shampoos and some of them don’t even require water! So, instead of letting that baby shampoo take up space on the bathroom shelf, add a proper cat shampoo!

Now tell as have you ever had to ask; can I use baby shampoo on my cat? Also. does your cat loves water or hates it and what’s their favorite shampoo product?

Marina Titova

Marina was cat-struck 8 years ago. It was early autumn when Dante, her grey cat, found her and adopted her. They’ve been inseparable ever since. Dante has been a great cat-teacher and BetterWithCats.net seemed like the perfect place to share his cat-knowledge.

Recent Posts