How to Choose Best Cat Shampoo – Buyer’s Guide

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Washing a cat has got to be one of the most painful experiences in the life of every cat owner. Even though felines are known to be among the cleanest animals, they are still prone to getting some dirt under their nails – quite literally. And that dirt needs some washing off every once in a while. That’s where things typically get ugly. As you approach your pet with that coy look on your face, she is quick to sniff out your true intentions. And even quicker to start running, scratching, wiggling, or downright biting those insolent hands that dared suggest a good ol’ scrub.

But life goes on, and one must learn how to swallow the bad with the good. A more or less successful bath (without too much of your blood spilled) will be rewarded with a nice treat or three. The frowning and hissing, offended beast will soon turn back into that lovely, cuddly creature you both know so well. And your mutual love will go on too. At least until the next bath time.

In the meantime, you are still stuck with the eternal questions: how to choose the best cat shampoo? What is a good cat shampoo anyway? Luckily, your furry bundle of joy doesn’t have much of a say in it. For him, shampoos are evil by default, just like the water is. (And why are those humans so obsessed with water anyway? Life can be so irksome when you’re a diva!) So, let’s find out the basics about choosing an adequate shampoo, and then I’ll give you some of my recommendations. Just make sure your cat doesn’t sit on your laptop while you’re reading this. She might get really, really angry.

Does My Cat Need a Shampoo (and Why Yes)?

Here’s my reasoning from about 20 years ago, well before I became a well-informed and conscientious cat parent that I am now. Even though cats have been living in civilization long enough, they are still pretty independent and capable of making it on their own. An average wild cat has a perfectly good life without ever taking a bath. So, why torture your domestic cat with that dreaded water and soap?

The answer is simpler than it sounds. Cats don’t need washing by default. They groom themselves and each other all the time. Those little barbs that make their tongue so rough are there so they can pick up all the dirt and extras lurking about. But there are situations when a bath is either helpful or required. For example, if they got into something sticky, they won’t be able to just rub it off. Or, if your cat is suffering from health issues like obesity or arthritis, she might have trouble reaching all of her limbs and body parts (yes, I mean the rear parts too). Not to mention skin infections or diseases that require special hygiene. Or hairless breeds. Or breeds with too much hair.

The case is clear: your cat does need a bath every now and then. But be careful not to overdo it, since too frequent bathing can damage his fur or skin, removing the natural protection. So, two or three times per year should suffice, not counting the emergencies (such as Fluffy covered in some gunk that he picked up who knows where).

What to Look for in Cat Shampoos?

For starters, let’s get one thing clear. Never ever use your own or your kid’s shampoo on your cat. As mild as it may be, it still isn’t meant to be used by pets. Some of the ingredients that are harmless for us humans might be very dangerous for our cats. Remember: a cat’s skin and fur don’t just act as insulators. They also tend to absorb many substances, which can cause even more damage.

So, when searching for the best shampoo for your cat, make sure it contains no artificial substances such as parabens, perfumes, alcohol, phenol. Even some natural stuff like tea tree can be toxic to cats. If you aren’t sure and wouldn’t want to make the call on your own, it’s probably best to consult the vet. Especially if your feline has health issues that you don’t want to mess with.

Now, let’s go over my two cents.

Top 7 Best Cat Shampoos in 2019 – Different Types of Cat Shampoo Reviews

Earthbath All Natural Pet Shampoo

Earthbath All Natural Pet Cat ShampooOver 2,700 customers have awarded this shampoo 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon, as of this writing. That should mean something. It’s a soap-free and pH-balanced shampoo that will clean your cat’s coat without washing off flea applications. Gentle cleanser and conditioner, it detangles hair, which the owners of long-hair breeds will especially appreciate.

Plus, you can use it on your cat and dog (if you have any). It’s also safe to use on pets with allergies. There are many varieties too, including itch relief and hypo-allergenic.

Oster Oatmeal Naturals 4-in-1 Cat Shampoo

Oster Oatmeal NaturalsThis shampoo is a 100% free of dye, parabens, and alcohol. So, why is this a 4-in-1 shampoo? Because of its four functions: soothes, cleans, conditions and detangles your cat’s fur. The soothing part doesn’t come from aloe, so there’s no reason to worry. It’s made possible thanks to the oatmeal extract. Your cat will smell like vanilla – but fret not, this fragrance is harmless.

Customers report that it doesn’t cause dander. The only concern is if you or the cat (or both) aren’t very fond of the fragrance.

Oster Oatmeal Naturals Dander Control Cat Shampoo

Oster Oatmeal Naturals Dander Control Cat ShampooIf I could make a shortlist of three things that make me go berserk, dander would surely make it to that list. When a cat has extremely dry skin, it will likely lead to dander sooner rather than later. This cat dandruff shampoo should help solve the problem. The 100% natural oatmeal extract helps soothe and moisten the skin. And it’s also ideal for households with cat allergies, since most of those spring from dander.

The sweet pea fragrance isn’t very strong, so your cat shouldn’t have many objections.

Vet’s Best No-Rinse Clean Waterless Cat Shampoo

Vets Best No Rinse Clean Waterless Cat ShampooI think it’s safe to say that most cats really hate water, but it’s also true that most of them will endure it if they have no choice. But there are felines who would rather bite your hand off than get a little water on their coat. If yours is one of those, this no-rinse shampoo should do the trick. Sure, they won’t enjoy the spray either, but it’s a less painful solution.

All you need to do is pump and massage the shampoo into the fur and let it sit there for a few minutes. Then, gently brush the fur or wipe it with a cloth, and the bathing is done. It’s absolutely harmless, so you can do it as frequently or rarely as needed.

Top Performance Fresh Pet Shampoo

Top Performance Fresh Pet Cat ShampooThe name doesn’t lie here – this shampoo really has top performance. It detangles even the longest hair and helps fix any mats that might have showed up. Choose the 17-ounce bottle, or even a gallon or more if you have many pets and bathe them frequently.

It’s safe to use for kittens and puppies as young as six weeks, as well as adult pets. The scent is very light and pleasant, without strong notes that your pet would hate.

Four Paws Magic Coat Cat Tearless Shampoo

Four Paws Magic Coat Cat Tearless ShampooWhichever coat or skin type your furry bundle of joy has, this shampoo should serve it well. Plus, it’s so gentle that it won’t irritate the cat’s eyes and ears. The fragrance isn’t too heavy on the nose, and the shampoo doesn’t cause dander, dry skin, hair loss, or any other issues.

It will rinse nicely, without leaving residue that your cat might want to lick off her fur. And the coat could hardly get softer. Last but not least, it’s very reasonably priced – which doesn’t stand for many pet products these days.

Burt’s Bees for Cats Hypoallergenic Shampoo with Shea Butter and Honey

Burts Bees for Cats Hypoallergenic ShampooIf you are on the lookout for a shampoo without any artificial smell, look no further. This one contains no colorants, essential oils, or fragrance. It moisturizes and softens dry skin and conditions skin and fur to prevent tangling. You don’t have to worry about parabens or any other synthetic ingredients, since the shampoo is nearly 98% natural.

It will also help with the allergies of you or other household members. If your cat really hates water, Burt’s Bees has another option – this Dander Reducing Spray and Wipes Bundle.

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