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Alternative shampoo for cats: 8 safe options

Alternative shampoo for cats

When our cats get themselves in some messy situations, we have to get them cleaned up fast before they can spread dirt around the house.

In such cases, you might not know what to bathe your cat with. If you’re looking to increase your options, you might want to look for alternative shampoo for cats.

Below are safe alternative shampoo for cats to help you in those odd times when your feline friend needs a quick rinse in the tub.

In fact you might already have some of these alternatives at home.

1. Baby shampoo

It’s suitable for use on your cat’s delicate skin because it has a much softer formula than shampoo for adults.

Use a bit of baby shampoo to wash your cat during bath time, just how you would use a regular cat shampoo.

The only downside is that you may not have baby shampoo in your house if you don’t have a baby or a toddler.

2. Dawn dish soap

Rescue centers use Dawn dish soap to remove oil from wildlife affected by pollution. Hence, it’s also going to do a great job of cleaning your cat’s coat if they end up covered in sticky or oily gunk.

How to use

Mix 1/4 cup of Dawn with 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of water to create a blend that can be lathered over your cat’s coat before rinsing.

It is not clear if other brands of dish soap are safe to use for cats, so we don’t recommend that you use them.

3. Castile soap

With olive oil as its key ingredient, Castile soap is a safe and effective alternative.

It is a good choice for cats with dry skin since it’s gentle and hydrating.

However, make sure that the soap is 100% pure without added ingredients or harmful chemicals.

To make sure your cat’s skin doesn’t get irritated by soap residue, remember to rinse your cat well after applying the soap.  

4. Baking soda

If you need a waterless cat shampoo to simply freshen up your cat’s fur, baking soda is a great alternative. It will strip away dirt and remove foul odors without the need to use water. 

You just need to sprinkle baking soda over your cat’s coat without dropping any on the face. Using your fingers, rub the baking soda into your cat’s fur and skin and finally brush it out. 

It might make your dark cat look a little lighter, but they’ll be clean and smell good.

5. Baby wipes

baby wipes are a safe alternative for cleaning your cat

Most of us have either baby wipes or makeup removal wipes at home.

Wipes are perfect for spot cleaning your cat, wiping off stains, or removing anything stuck to the coat. 

However, avoid using scented makeup removal wipes; the fragrance can cause skin irritation. 

6. Homemade Oatmeal Shampoo

Using a simple homemade oatmeal shampoo can help to clean your cat and soothe itchy dry skin at the same time.

Steps to follow

  • Mix 1 cup of ground oatmeal, 1 cup of baking soda, and 4 cups of water to make the shampoo.
  • Apply this mixture on your cat’s fur, then use your fingers to massage it through their fur and skin.
  • After 5 minutes, rinse with warm water.

If you’re not a regular baker, you might need to purchase baking soda.

7. Cornstarch

If you use cornstarch frequently in cooking, then you have the perfect dry shampoo. 

Steps to follow

  • You can sprinkle this over your cat’s coat before using your fingers to apply it to your cat’s fur and skin.
  • After applying, simply brush it out for a cleaner and better-smelling cat. 

Cornstarch isn’t good at removing sticky or oily messes.

8. DIY wet cat shampoo

alternative shampoo for cats

Knowing how to make a wet cat shampoo at home will come in handy if you prefer a more traditional bathing experience for your feline.

Steps to follow 

  • Combine 1 cup of natural dish soap, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1/3 vegetable glycerin.
  • Make it easier to use by mixing the ingredients thoroughly and adding clean water.
  • Get your cat wet and lather them up.
  • To prevent your cat from getting itchy, rinse thoroughly.

Some people might add essential oils to their cat shampoo, but this should be avoided for your cat’s safety and wellbeing.

Is it necessary for cats to have baths?

Many people disagree with this question. Since cats groom themselves, some people think that they do not need baths. Others believe that baths are essential even though cats self-groom.

A bath can help your cat’s coat and skin. This is not to say that your cat will like it; they tend to be anxious when near water, but we will come to that later. 

There are also situations where you will have no option but to give your cat a bath. 

  1. Suppose they end up doing something they shouldn’t and are covered in dirt or some other material that leaves their coat greasy and dirty; you will have no choice but to give them a bath. 
  2. Similarly, it’s time for your cat to get a bath if they have something stuck to their paws. Dreadlocks, mats, or other fur problems will also require that you give your cat a bath.
  3. The best prevention against matted fur is a clean coat. Excess hair and hair loss can also be prevented by bathing.
  4. Cats that are overweight or older will also require baths to keep their fur in good condition.
  5. Older cats tend to have greasier fur, which is a part of the aging process. They will need help from you to keep their coat clean. Self-grooming is also hard for overweight cats who cannot reach all areas of their body, and this is also where you, as a pet parent, will be required to step in.
  6. Several medical issues may require you to bathe your feline friend with a specific type of shampoo based on your vet’s advice. 

How to choose the right shampoo for your cat

There are several factors to consider.

  1. Products designed for cats: To start with, you need to make sure the product is designed for cats.
  2. Ingredients: You should look at the ingredients as well. Shampoos with natural ingredients are the best for your cat. 
  3. Need for chemicals: However, there will be situations where you will need a shampoo with chemicals, for example, when your cat has fleas. In this situation, your vet should tell you about the best cat flea shampoo for your pet.
  4. Skin issues: You should consider a shampoo specially formulated with skin issues in mind if your cat suffers from any type of skin issues such as sensitive skin, irritated skin, dandruff or itchy skin.
  5. Gentle: You need a product that is going to be very gentle on your cat’s skin.

What type of cat shampoo should I use for my cat?

A variety of products can be used to clean the fur of your cat.

Different formulas are available for different skin types. 

Depending on your preferences, you may decide to use a specific type of shampoo for your pet. Below, we look at various types of shampoos for cats: 

1. Traditional wet shampoos

Traditional shampoos are regular shampoos with a gentle formula to keep your cat’s coat and skin clean. Depending on the skin type of your cat, the options include shampoos for normal to sensitive skin. 

2. Shampoo and conditioner

These blends are often a single product, which makes them more economical. Even though cats don’t need conditioners, using a blended shampoo helps keep your cat’s fur soft, lustrous and shiny. 

3. Waterless or dry shampoo

If your cat doesn’t like water, you can consider using a waterless shampoo. Most of these products come in wipes, powder, and spray format. Pet owners are advised against using products with essential oils because they can harm your cat’s coat.

What are safe ingredients in cat shampoo?

1. Natural

Look for shampoos with natural and organic ingredients.

All-natural ingredients such as oatmeal, organic aloe vera, coconut extract, and almonds oil in shampoo for cats are therapeutic and soothing for the skin and coat.

They also provide a fresh smell and keep the coat clean. It is also helpful in tackling skin irritation, promoting healing, and moisturizing sensitive and dry skin.

2. Ones to avoid

Avoid those containing alcohol, soap, detergent, sulfates, added colors, harsh chemicals, or fragrances.

What are harmful cat shampoo ingredients to avoid?

Some ingredients in shampoos are toxic to cats and can cause diseases like cancer. That’s why the alternative you use mustn’t be made with these ingredients. As far as possible, use shampoos with natural ingredients and avoid those with harsh chemicals.

Harmful ingredients include:

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)

SLS is an ingredient of many shampoos, including those for cats.

SLS can weaken the outer layer of your cat’s skin, which is supposed to protect the cat from harmful substances. Hence, using a shampoo with SLS can cause itchy skin and allergic reactions in your cat. 

2. Artificial Colors
Artificial colors can cause allergic reactions, cancer, organ damage, and birth defects in cats due to their petroleum content.

3. Artificial Fragrances
Though it’s the pleasing scent that attracts us to buy shampoo, it’s essential to know that artificial fragrance can be very dangerous to your furry friend.

Artificial fragrances can cause allergic reactions, neurotoxicity, cancer, and even harm your cat’s immune system. 

4. Parabens
Parabens are often seen in many shampoos. Some forms of cancer and tumor growth in pets may be caused by parabens. Parabens can also affect your pet’s reproductive organs. 

5. Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Cocamidopropyl Betaine is added to make the shampoo thick. Though made of coconut oil, it is processed and mixed with other chemicals that can damage your cat’s immune system, cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. 

There are many other harmful ingredients to avoid when picking pet shampoos, but we have only mentioned some common ones. You can see a complete list of toxic ingredients here . 

How does cat shampoo work on your cat’s coat and skin?

A good way for cat owners to groom their cat’s skin and coat is by using cat shampoo. All loose hairs, dead cells, dirt, and debris can be removed with the help of the shampoo. The cleansing process makes it easy for natural oils to get into your cat’s body and promote hair growth.

Is it okay to use human shampoo on my cat?

Absolutely not! Human shampoo is not suitable for your cat’s hair or skin because of the different pH levels. You should use only a specially formulated cat shampoo.

How to bathe a cat?

It can be hard to bathe a cat. However, you can make it easier by doing a few things. 

Firstly, have someone with you to help. It will make a huge difference if someone comforts the cat while you focus on bathing.

You should always keep your cat’s head out of the water and ensure that you have everything you need within reach.

Most of the time, bathing your cat’s body is enough. To clean your cat’s face, use a damp cloth because cats can get scared if water comes near their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Step by step instructions on how to give your cat a bath

  1. The sink needs to be filled with lukewarm water until it is three inches high.
  2. Wet your cat’s back from the shoulders to the tail.
  3. Apply the shampoo.
  4. Similar to how you wash your hair, begin lathering the shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
  5. Use the small cloth to clean your cat’s head gently.
  6. Use a cotton ball to clean the ears of your cat. You should not put cotton buds in the ears of your pet.
  7. Once you’ve washed your cat, place him on a large towel.
  8. Fold the towel around your cat.
  9. You should dry as much water from your cat’s fur as possible.
  10. If your cat has long hair, you may need to use a blowdryer. If the noise scares your cat, don’t use it. It’s a good idea to set the blow dryer on low for your first try.

What you need to bathe your cat?

  1. Cat shampoo
  2. Small cloth for your cat’s face
  3. Cotton balls to clean ears
  4. Large towel
  5. Gentle spray nozzle for rinsing (or a large pitcher)
  6. Rubber gloves to protect yourself if the cat starts scratching