The 9 Best Cat Shampoos, According To Vets

From one cat parent to the next, good luck.

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Cats are naturally self-cleaning creatures, so they don’t need to be bathed nearly as often as dogs do, but periodic washing sessions are certainly warranted. The best cat shampoos are made with gentle, soothing ingredients like coconut and oatmeal to cleanse and moisturize their skin and coat. Some are even fortified with specific ingredients to target skin conditions like itchiness, dandruff, and excessive shedding.

The Experts

Chyrle Bonk, DVM, is a remote veterinary consultant for Excited Cats, a blog that offers professional-backed feline care tips.

Sarah Wooten, DVM, is a Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVF) for pet insurance company Pumpkin.

How Often Should I Wash My Cat?

If you’re someone who lives with pet allergies, bathing your cat once a week can help reduce allergy-causing dander, but even if you’re not allergic, there are some instances when your kitty could use a shampoo session. Long-haired breeds as well as elderly and obese cats who struggle with cleaning themselves may benefit from regular baths, as can any kitty who gets into some sour-smelling garbage.

However, when it comes to washing your cat, less can actually be more. “Frequent bathing can also cause itchiness and dry skin,” according to Dr. Bonk. Instead, brush regularly in between baths to distribute your cat’s natural oils. If your cat really can’t stand the water — and you’d prefer not to end up with arms full of scratches — a waterless shampoo effectively cleanses fur, no rinsing required.

What If My Cat Has Sensitive Skin?

If your cat is dealing with a condition like dry, flaky skin, Dr. Bonk recommends ingredients like oatmeal, aloe, and vitamin E, which can “really help to moisturize and reduce itch. They are also natural so they shouldn’t bother the skin.” Wooten says the best cat shampoos for dandruff will be made with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, ethyl lactate, selenium sulfide, sulfur, and salicylic acid. Dr. Wooten warns, “Never use a product that has tar included in the ingredient list, as it is toxic to cats,” — i.e., put down that bottle of human dandruff shampoo.

Also, when picking a shampoo, keep in mind that some cats are particularly sensitive to fragrance, in which case, you’ll want to find an unscented formula, while others may actually enjoy scent (the smell of lavender may even soothe a stressed kitty). When in doubt about your cat’s bathing needs, be sure to talk to your vet.

Shop The Best Cat Shampoos

In a hurry? These are the best cat shampoos on Amazon:

  1. The Overall Best: Pro Pet Works Organic Oatmeal Shampoo
  2. The Best For Cats With Sensitive Skin: Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hypoallergenic Shampoo
  3. The Best-Smelling Cat Shampoo: John Paul Pet Lavender Mint Shampoo
  4. The Best Shampoo For Kittens: Burt’s Bees Tearless Kitten Shampoo
  5. The Best Medicated Cat Shampoo For Dandruff: Pet MD Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Shampoo
  6. The Best Waterless Cat Shampoo: Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath
  7. The Best Cat Shampoo For Thick Fur: Vetericyn FoamCare Pet Shampoo
  8. The Best Cat Shampoo For Hot Spots: PetHonesty Chlorhexidine Shampoo
  9. The Best Odor & Dander-Control Cat Shampoo: Arm & Hammer 2-in-1 Deodorizing & Dander Reducing Shampoo

Below, you’ll find the best cat shampoos available on Amazon, and while you’re shopping, consider picking up a massaging cat brush to remove excess hair or a new cat toy to keep them entertained and happy.

1. The Overall Best


  • Made with organic ingredients, including oatmeal and aloe vera
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Helps reduce shedding


  • Not for use on kittens less than 8 weeks old
  • Some reviewers don’t like the cherry smell

One of Dr. Bonk’s recommendations, this cat shampoo is an all-around great pick, and a total game-changer if your cat is prone to excessive shedding. Made with soothing aloe vera gel, oatmeal, vitamin E, and almond oil, the hypoallergenic, paraben-free formula deeply moisturizes your cat’s skin, replenishes oils, and leaves fur with a healthy shine. And since it’s highly effective at removing excess hair, you’ll immediately notice a difference in how much they shed — and how many hairballs they cough up.

According to a reviewer: “I decided to try this shampoo/conditioner on my long-haired rescue after trying so many other hypoallergenic shampoos on the market. Every other shampoo I have tried has given him severely dry skin with a lot of flaking for a week to two weeks after his bath. [...] This is the only shampoo that has not made him have dry skin and flake!”

Recommended age: 8 weeks and older | Scent: Cherry, according to reviewers | Key ingredients: Aloe vera, oatmeal, almond oil, and vitamins A, D, E, and B12

2. The Best For Cats With Sensitive Skin


  • Gentle coconut-based formula with vitamin E for sensitive skin
  • No added fragrances
  • Good for allergic reactions
  • pH balanced
  • Tear-free


  • Not recommended for cats less than 12 weeks old
  • Some reviewers note that it may cause dryness

Dr. Bonk recommends this hypoallergenic shampoo for cats who have sensitive skin. The mild formula is made with natural coconut-based cleansers and fortified with vitamin E to revitalize fur, and allantoin and lactic acid to moisturize and strengthen the skin’s lipid barrier. The soothing shampoo is also useful for when your cat has an allergic reaction — whether it be a flea bite or a specific type of food — as this shampoo can alleviate itchiness and redness. Made without fragrances, dyes, sulfates, or soaps, this shampoo is gentle enough for regular use. If your cat’s skin reacts negatively towards traditional pet shampoo, it’s worth giving this one a try.

According to a reviewer: “One of my kitties is very sensitive and gets irritated if anything has a scent. This shampoo is very mild and only makes them smell clean with no added scents. It is also very gentle on my cats' coats and skin. They were very soft after their baths! Lathered very well and they still smell clean even a week later.”

Recommended age: 12 weeks and older | Scent: Fragrance-free | Key ingredients: Allantoin, lactic acid, vitamin E

3. The Best-Smelling Cat Shampoo


  • Soothing lavender-mint scent
  • Infused with soothing chamomile and aloe vera
  • Vegan formula


  • Added fragrance may cause sensitivity
  • Some cats may not like the scent

From the co-founder of Paul Mitchell comes a cat shampoo that smells so good, you’ll wish it was available for humans, too. The invigorating lavender-spearmint fragrance lingers on your kitty’s fur for days after a bath — a plus for cat owners — but reviewers have also stated that the aromatherapeutic scent calmed their cat down during their bath. John Paul Pet’s formula is made with natural soothing and moisturizing ingredients like tea tree oil, chamomile, aloe vera gel, and eucalyptus. It’s free of parabens, but since it’s not hypoallergenic, it’s best for cats who aren’t sensitive to fragrances.

According to a reviewer: “This product smells fantastic! You know how most pet shampoo stops smelling good the moment its rinsed off? Not this one. My cat is silky smooth and smells great. The soap was quite thick so it was able to be managed easily and not running all over the place. Even though it was thick it was exceptionally easy to rinse out.”

Recommended age: Not listed | Scent: Lavender mint | Key ingredients: Tea tree and eucalyptus oils, chamomile, aloe vera

4. The Best Shampoo For Kittens


  • Gentle formula for kittens and sensitive cats
  • Tear-free
  • Fragrance-free


  • Doesn’t lather as well as some reviewers would like

Washing a kitten — or a litter of kittens — can be done as soon as they reach four weeks of age, and this tearless Burt’s Bees cat shampoo is designed with young cats in mind. Buttermilk is the key ingredient, which nourishes skin and leaves fur feeling soft and conditioned. The shampoo is made with 99.7% natural ingredients and has no fragrances, sulfates, colorants, or harsh chemicals that could irritate a kitten’s skin (for this reason, it’s also a good option for adult cats with particularly sensitive skin).

According to a reviewer: “This shampoo has been fantastic at very effectively breaking down the gross on even our tiny foster kittens whose health is at risk should they remain unbathed. Extremely gentle yet very effective, this soap rinses clean very easily without striping their sensitive skin of essential oils.”

Recommended age: Not listed | Scent: Fragrance-free | Key ingredients: Buttermilk

5. The Best Medicated Cat Shampoo For Dandruff


  • Exfoliates dead skin cells and minimizes oiliness


  • Added fragrance may cause sensitivity
  • Pricey

If you’ve gotten the OK from your veterinarian to treat your cat’s dandruff at home, this medicated shampoo can work wonders. Formulated with benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, and salicylic acid, the shampoo targets dandruff by softening and loosening dead skin, while degreasing fur at the same time. It’s best for cats who not only have flaky skin, but oily skin as well, but since it’s medicated, you’ll want to double-check with your vet to make sure the active ingredients are suitable for your specific cat’s fur.

According to a reviewer: “My cat had some of the worst dander I ever seen and it’s something she has dealt with for a long time. It was so bad that she would be coated in white flakes everywhere. I would bathe her and it would still be on her fur. [...] After one bath and one application with this shampoo, not a single speck of white dander anywhere and her fur is so incredibly smooth and soft.”

Recommended age: Not listed | Scent: Citrus | Key ingredients: Benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, salicylic acid

6. The Best Waterless Cat Shampoo


  • No-rinse formula
  • Contains only six ingredients, including vitamin E and oatmeal


  • Won’t cleanse fur of dirt and dander
  • Only for cats 12 weeks and older

Dr. Bonk suggests this waterless shampoo for reluctant kitties who won’t go anywhere near a sink or bathtub. This foaming, no-rinse formula is made with hydrating aloe vera gel to support healthy skin and fur, neem oil for moisture retention, antioxidant-rich vitamin E, and oatmeal to soothe irritation. Just massage a few pumps of the lightly scented shampoo into your cat’s fur and allow it to air dry before combing through with a brush or wiping away excess dirt and hair with a cloth. It’s free of parabens and sulfates, and safe to use on cats 12 weeks and older.

According to a reviewer: “This is good stuff. I have to sneakily bathe my kitten. She hates getting wet so I fill my hands up with this stuff and just go at her like I'm just petting her and playing until I've pretty much gotten her all over. By the time she realizes I've put something on her, it's over. She's not soaked either. I brush her a little then when she's dry in 10 minutes, she smells wonderful.”

Recommended age: 12 weeks and older | Scent: Clean powder scent, according to reviewers | Key ingredients: Aloe vera, neem oil, vitamin E, oatmeal

7. The Best Cat Shampoo For Thick Fur


  • Foam formula makes it easier to clean dense, thick fur
  • Instant lather
  • Hypoallergenic and pH-balanced
  • Convenient spray bottle


  • Some reviewers find the scent a bit strong

Made for pets with extra thick fur or dense undercoats, this foam cat shampoo creates an instant lather that’s easy to get down in between hairs for a deep cleanse. The hypoallergenic and pH-balanced formula contains aloe and conditions as it cleans — leaving your cat’s fur shiny and soft — and it rinses away easily. The squirt bottle makes it easy to get the soap right where you need it, and reviewers write that it leaves their feline smelling great for days.

According to a reviewer: “One of my cats has a thick coat of fur and with normal pet shampoos it can be really hard to get down into the coat, so honestly I wasn't sure if this one really was going to be any better. However, I have to admit that it really did work quite well. The shampoo itself smells really good and works great at cleaning my cats coat really well and gets deep down cleaning out all of the dirt and grime that can get into their coats no matter what you do. The best thing though is having this in a foaming spray because it allows me to really get it where I want it and it's easier to apply without wasting a lot of the shampoo. My cats coat is left clean and looking beautiful.”

Recommended age: Not listed | Scent: Fresh and clean, according to reviewers | Key ingredients: Aloe vera

8. The Best Cat Shampoo For Hot Spots


  • Medicated to treat hot spots and itching
  • Reduces odors
  • Concentrated formula


  • Added fragrance may cause sensitivity

If your cat suffers from hot spots or excessive itching, it might benefit from this shampoo that’s formulated with chlorhexidine and ketoconazole to remove bacteria and fungi and treat infections. The shampoo helps gently deodorize with a light cucumber melon scent and it’s infused with aloe for soothing properties. As with any medicated shampoo, it’s best to check with your veterinarian prior to use.

According to a reviewer: “My cat is very allergic to fleas; if she gets bitten then she'll develop raw oozing sores. [...] I've noticed that this shampoo greatly helps soothe her skin and promote healing in the affected areas. After the second bath, her oozing sore was a crusty scab, and after the 4th bath there was nothing but healthy skin in the area.”

Recommended age: Not listed | Scent: Cucumber melon | Key ingredients: Chlorhexidine, ketoconazole, and aloe vera

9. The Best Odor & Dander-Control Cat Shampoo


  • Contains baking soda to help control odors
  • Lavender and chamomile soothe skin and reduce dander
  • Budget-friendly pick


  • Some reviewers notice a residue after cleaning, but note that it goes away after a day or two
  • Some cats might not like the fragrance

This dander and odor-control shampoo is a great pick if your cat tends to get stinky, or if someone in your home suffers from allergies to pet dander. It contains baking soda to absorb odors, as well as soothing and moisturizing ingredients like lavender and chamomile to help reduce dander. Some reviewers note that it even helps with more severe dandruff as well, with one fan writing, “We bought this for our black cat who had a bad case of dandruff at the end of winter. The shampoo worked great and left her coat so soft and glossy.” The shampoo has a light lavender scent that reviewers note lasts a few days after washing, and it’s an economical choice at just $7 for the 20-ounce bottle.

A reviewer wrote: “We bought this because our daughter is mildly allergic to our kitten. To reduce dander from the kitten we give a bath with this every month and weekly use the dry shampoo. It has been 3 months and not a single allergic reaction. Highly recommended.”

Recommended age: 8 weeks and older | Scent: Lavender chamomile | Key ingredients: Baking soda, lavender, chamomile

How We Picked

To find the best cat shampoos, we took advice from experts and combined it with independent research and user reviews from those who have used these shampoos in the past. We combed through products designed for specific considerations, such as sensitive skin, excess shedding, and dander, in order to recommend shampoos to suit you op0oip[00opop00pp

r cat’s needs.


Dr. Chyrle Bonk, DVM, veterinarian and remote veterinarian consultant for Excited Cats

Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVF, veterinarian for Pumpkin pet insurance

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