The 4 Best Shampoos For Cats

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When it comes to bathing your cat, the question should be, “Should I bathe my cat?” not “How often should I bathe my cat?” Most cats are exceptionally good at bathing themselves, and require little cleaning beyond what they give themselves. However, there are exceptions. Hairless cats require weekly bathing. And, if a cat gets really dirty or skunked, or is unable to bathe itself, bathing can help. It can also help with fleas. Whether bathing is a one-off or regular part of your cat’s care, the best shampoos for cats are typically soap-free so it cleans without stripping a cat’s skin of its natural protective oils.

Because many cats are naturally averse to water, the actual bath can be challenging. If you’re using a sink, bucket, or tub, place a towel at the bottom to make it soft. Use warm (but not scalding) water, and fill it up with just a few inches of water. Your cat will likely be anxious, so give it lots of love and reassurances. Using light pressure (and enlisting the help of another human) can also help. Afterwards, the cat will want to shake off the excess water. Using a clean, dry towel to get off more water at this step will help, too. But if your cat hates regular bathing too much and stills need help with grooming, there are dry options as well that may make an unpleasant activity easier.

But that’s the hard part. The easy part is finding the best shampoo below:

1. The Best Overall Shampoo For Cats

Earthbath cat shampoo is a soap-free favorite with a 4.3-star rating and more than 2,500 reviews. It has a a pH designed for pet’s skin, and ingredients like aloe and oatmeal to condition without drying. It lathers and is effective at cleaning up fur while leaving it shiny and conditioned. Plus, it also won’t remove topical flea medications.

What Reviewers Say: "Wow! I ordered the cat shampoo because my 16 year old Maine Coon is, shall we say, lacking in her grooming habits lately... I soaped her up and continued to massage for 90 seconds or so. I then washed her off and towel dried her. I brushed her as she was drying and couldn't believe how beautiful her fur looked and felt the dryer she got. She's back to the beautiful, fluffy Maine Coon she used to be! On top of that, she smells so good!"

2. The Best Dry Shampoo For Cats

A waterless cat bath is an easy solution best suited for cats who require regular bathing because they aren’t grooming because of age or size. The no-rinse foam can be applied directly to the cat, then gently brushed out. Ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin E condition fur and skin. It also won’t affect flea medication but it's not the best choice for cats who have just gotten exceptionally messy.

What Reviewers Say: “This product is great at helping me keep my long haired Persian's hair smelling and feeling clean without actually having to bathe her multiple times a month. She is a rather messy eater and gets her chest dirty and this waterless foam.”

3. The Best Cat Shampoo For Fleas

Fleas can often drown in a bath, so for minor flea infestations, regular pet shampoo may be fine. But for more serious flea problems, a medicated flea shampoo can help. Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo's active ingredients kill fleas and flea eggs, as well as other pests like lice and common kinds of ticks while ingredients like lanolin and aloe vera also keeps skin from drying out. The lather must be left in the cat’s fur for up to 5 minutes for the active ingredients to work. But, it's always a good idea to see your vet to make sure you’re treating fleas as aggressively and effectively as possible.

What Reviewers Say: “I am happy to say that the combination of the shampoo and flea drops have left my cat - for the first time in little over a year - flea free.”

4. The Best Shampoo For Cats With Dandruff

Dandruff on cats is often treated with a diet change and more frequent brushing. However, if your cat with dandruff requires bathing, you will want to choose an extra-moisturizing pet wash. Pro Pet’s oatmeal shampoo is formulated for dry, itchy pet skin, including on cats and dogs. It's pH balanced so it won’t strip oils and will help calm and moisturize. It can also help if cats have dry, itchy skin from flea bites or other irritants and can even help decrease harmful self-scratching.

What Reviewers Say: “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. He gets a bath once every 6 - 8 weeks just to help loosen up the undercoat and help with a bit of oiliness on his back just above his tail... This is the only shampoo that has not made him have dry skin and flake!”

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