The 25 Best Cat Shampoos of 2020
While cats normally take good care of their own grooming, there are times when you’ll want to give your cat a bath. Maybe they’ve got something sticky in their fur, they’re suffering from itching or dandruff, or their fur is looking dirty.
You might think you could simply bathe your cat with your own shampoo, but that’s definitely not a good option. Your cat’s skin is different from yours and needs different products. Cat shampoos are carefully formulated so they won’t harm your cat or make their skin itchy. You can also find a great range of specialist shampoos designed to help with issues like fleas, dandruff, and even hairballs. We reviewed dozens of cat shampoos to identify the best of the best, taking into account their ease of use, their ingredients, and how well they were received by reviewers.
For a great all-round option that’s suitable for pets with allergies and sensitive skin, we chose Pro Pet Works All Natural Organic Oatmeal Pet Shampoo + Conditioner as our top choice. It’s recommended by vets and free from both soap and detergent, so it’s suitable for cats with sensitive skin. It’s designed to be used on both dogs and cats, so if you have multiple pets, it’s a very handy choice.
The 5 Top-Rated Cat Shampoos
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Best Cat Shampoo Overall: Pro Pet Works All Natural Organic Oatmeal Pet Shampoo + Conditioner
If you’re looking for a great cat shampoo that’s sure to suit your cat, the Pro Pet Works All Natural Organic Oatmeal Pet Shampoo + Conditioner is an excellent choice. It’s made in the USA and recommended by vets, so you know you’re going for a quality product that won’t harm your cat. Its green credentials are top-notch, too: all Pro Pet’s products are 100% biodegradable and made from recycled materials. The shampoo itself is non-toxic and non-alcoholic, with no animal by-products.
Plenty of pet-owners are using this great shampoo on their dogs, but it’s also fully suitable for cats. In fact, you can even use it on ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, and even horses – so if you have a whole menagerie to take care of, it’s a great product to try out! Many Amazon reviewers praised it highly, with cat-owners saying that it worked amazingly well for their pets’ dry skin and dandruff.
Pro Pet Works All Natural Organic Oatmeal Pet Shampoo + Conditioner Key Features:
- Made in the USA by a company with strong eco-friendly credentials
- Hypo-allergenic and suitable for cats with allergies to food, grass, and flea bites
- No alcohol, sulfates, added colors, harsh chemicals, or added fragrance – it’s made from all-natural ingredients
- Suitable for cats with dry, sensitive, or itchy skin
- 100% money back guarantee from the manufacturer: if it doesn’t work well for your cat, you can get a full refund
Best Natural Cat Shampoo: Earthbath Natural Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo
If you’re looking for an all-natural option, the Earthbath Natural Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo is a great option to go for. Again, it’s suitable for both cats and dogs, and it’s soap-free and pH-balanced to suit sensitive skin. It’s also 100% biodegradable, with a paraben and phosphate-free formula. If your cat has dry skin, it’s an especially good option as it’s designed to re-moisturize and heal dry skin.
Reviewers said it left their cats’ coats silky and shiny, and that it was great for dandruff and itchy skin. Many praised the nice scent and said it worked well even on long-haired breeds. There’s also a matching conditioner that you may want to use as well, to make your cat’s fur extra soft and silky.
Earthbath Natural Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo Key Features
- Made in the USA from all-natural ingredients – no nasty chemicals here
- Has a pleasant vanilla and almond scent that reviewers liked, and will help neutralize odors
- Designed to re-moisturize and heal dry skin, and also effective against dandruff and itchy skin
- According to reviewers, it’s great for cats (and other pets) with sensitive skin and allergies
- Earthbath has a number of pet shampoos and conditioners, so you can try others from the range if you want a different scent or want to use a conditioner too
Best Budget Cat Shampoo: John Paul Pet Oatmeal Shampoo
This lovely shampoo is made with all-natural ingredients and is great for cats with sensitive skin or skin conditions.
The John Paul Pet Oatmeal Shampoo is a great budget-friendly choice, at just $5.89 for a 16 oz bottle. (If you’re going to be doing a lot of shampooing, there’s also the gallon jug option.) It’s made with oatmeal, aloe, and chamomile to clean your cat’s skin without irritating it. You don’t need to use much at a time, as it’s highly concentrated – meaning that budget bottle will last even longer.
This cat shampoo is made in the USA from natural products. In fact, it uses the same all-natural botanical extracts as the company’s Paul Mitchell brand for humans! The John Paul Pet company donates some of the proceeds from each sale to animal and wildlife organizations, too. Reviewers praised it for being great for cats with skin conditions, and said that it had a lovely scent (from the almond oil included in it) that wasn’t too strong at all.
John Paul Pet Oatmeal Shampoo Key Features:
- Made in the USA by a company that donates to animal and wildlife organizations
- Company has been cruelty-free ever since it was founded in 1980
- Based on the same all-natural botanical extracts as the Paul Mitchell brand for humans, but especially PH balanced for pets
- Designed to gently cleanse and moisturize your cat’s fur, and is particularly good for dry, flaky, and/or sensitive skin
- Concentrated formula, so you only need a small amount each time – meaning that 16 oz bottle could last a good while
Best Dry Shampoo for Cats: Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath
If your cat hates water, this foam shampoo could be just what you need, as there’s no need to rinse it off.
What if your cat hates being bathed? That’s where this shampoo comes in! Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath is a quick and easy spray shampoo option that you can use with cats from 12 weeks and older. You don’t need to rinse the shampoo out of their fur, so it’s perfect for cats who hate getting wet. You won’t need to worry about leaving any harmful chemicals on your cat, either: this formula is designed and recommended by vets with gentle natural ingredients.
Your cat may well lick the shampoo off, too, so the fact that it’s made from natural and safe ingredients is especially important. Reviewers liked the scent of this cat shampoo and said that it left their cat smelling good. It’s easy to apply and dries fairly quickly (in about 30 minutes). You should find that it helps a lot with dandruff, if your cat is prone to that. It’s also good for dealing with matted fur.
Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath Key Features
- Foam shampoo that you pump out and massage into your cat’s fur, with no need to rinse afterward
- Great for de-tangling your cat’s fur if it gets matted
- Light, clean scent that both you and your cat will like
- Made in the USA with high-quality ingredients and endorsed by vets
- Includes natural, beneficial ingredients like aloe vera, neem oil, Vitamin E, and oatmeal
Best Antifungal Shampoo for Cats: Curaseb Antifungal & Antibacterial Chlorhexidine Shampoo
Curaseb Antifungal & Antibacterial Chlorhexidine Shampoo is designed to treat conditions such as ringworm. It eliminates bacteria, yeast, and fungus and needs to be left on your cat for 10 minutes before rinsing off. It’s manufactured in the USA, so you can be confident that it meets stringent quality and safety standards. The manufacturer also offers a full refund, if you find the product isn’t effective for your cat.
Several reviewers said it was really effective against conditions like ringworm and eczema, and that it smelt really good too. Some compared the scent to sweet cherries or strawberries. Most importantly, though, it’s safe to use on your cat and is recommended by vets. It’s also a little cheaper than some other similar products.
Curaseb Antifungal & Antibacterial Chlorhexidine Shampoo Key Features:
- Medicated shampoo that includes the active ingredients chlorohexidine gluconate (anti-bacterial) and ketoconazole (anti-fungal)
- Suitable for cats aged 6 months and older: if you have a younger kitten, check with your vet before using this
- Made in the USA to high standards, in quality controlled laboratories
- Smells great – it doesn’t have the “medicated” smell that you might expect, and it will remove nasty smells from your pet
- Manufacturer offers a full refund guaranteed (even if you use the whole bottle!)
Who Should Buy Cat Shampoo
You might think that your cat doesn’t need washing. After all, cats groom themselves – and it’s rare to find a cat that actually likes getting wet! At some point, though, your cat is likely to get their fur particularly dirty or sticky, and that’s when having a bottle of cat shampoo on hand is really helpful.
It’s important to use cat shampoo on your cat, not regular (human) shampoo. While your shampoo might be great for making your hair clean and glossy, it could seriously irritate your cat’s skin. Special cat shampoos are specifically formulated for use on pets. Many are also suitable for dogs, and other animals, so you don’t need to buy a separate bottle for every type of pet you own.
If you’re allergic to cats, washing your cat regularly can help to reduce your allergy symptoms, too – particularly if you buy an anti-dandruff cat shampoo.
Important Features to Consider
Cat shampoos need to be both safe to use and also effective at cleaning your cat. Here’s what to consider when choosing a cat shampoo:
- The chemicals used in the formula. Most cat shampoos will of course avoid harsh or potentially harmful chemicals, but it’s always well worth double checking exactly what’s included. Usually, the fewer ingredients, the better.
- Whether or not the shampoo has a strong smell. A very mild scent could help your cat to smell fresh and clean, but anything strong is likely to be off-putting and upsetting for your cat. If you’re sensitive to smells, a heavily scented shampoo might also be unpleasant for you.
- The eco-friendly credentials of the shampoo. Some cat shampoos make a particular point of being as environmentally friendly as possible. They might come in a bottle you can recycle, for instance, and they’ll avoid using ingredients that could harm the environment.
- How effective the shampoo is. Of course, manufacturers will inevitably claim that their shampoo works! It’s worth asking other cat owners, though, or taking a look at online reviews to be sure that the shampoo actually does a good job of getting cats clean and whether it helps with issues like dry skin.
- How safe the shampoo is for your cat. Some cat shampoos are hypoallergenic, meaning they’re suitable for cats with allergies. Others are designed to work well for cats who have sensitive skin: they’ll relieve itching rather than aggravating it.
- Whether the shampoo is designed to treat any specific issues. Some cat shampoos are anti-dandruff, for instance, and others help to get rid of fleas. If your cat has a particular problem, look for a shampoo that will be effective in treating it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use baby shampoo on my cat?
It’s not ideal to use baby shampoo on your cat. However, if you really need to wash your cat and you haven’t got any cat shampoo available, baby shampoo is definitely a better option than regular (human) shampoo.
Don’t use this as a regular option, though. Your cat’s skin isn’t the same as a baby’s skin. It has a different pH level and ideally needs a properly formulated cat shampoo. If you do decide to use a baby shampoo, make sure you go for an unscented one.
What do I need to bathe my cat?
When you’re getting ready to bathe your cat, you’ll need:
- A large bucket, bath, or sink that you can use as a cat bath.
- Your chosen cat or kitten shampoo.
- A cat conditioner, if you want to use it.
- A towel to dry your cat.
- A brush for your cat’s fur.
Don’t use a hairdryer on your cat unless they’ve been used to it since they were a kitten. They’ll much prefer being dried with a towel. Keep them in a warm room and don’t let them go outside until they’ve dried off completely.
How often should you wash a cat?
Different professionals will give different guidance on how often you should wash your cat, and clearly some cats will need washing more frequently than others. It’s always best to consult your vet for advice specific to your cat’s breed and age.
However, in general, you shouldn’t be washing your cat more frequently than every 4 – 6 weeks. In fact, with most cats, you only need to bathe them if they come into contact with something particularly sticky or smelly.
Can I wash my cat with baking soda?
You can use baking soda as a dry shampoo for your cat. Simply rub it into their fur then brush it out thoroughly. It’s important to get the baking soda out as it can be harmful to cats if ingested in large quantities.
Some people think that baking soda kills fleas on cats, but there’s no clear evidence for this. So don’t use baking soda in preference to other cat flea treatments.
Other Cat Shampoos We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other cat shampoos. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best cat shampoos list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your cat. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
Natural Cat Shampoos
This 100% natural shampoo includes oatmeal and aloe vera to sooth itchy skin, plus shea butter for a full and healthy coat. It’s designed to be gentle but also effective in getting your cat clean.
- Made from all-natural ingredients that won’t damage your cat’s skin or hair: no harsh chemicals here
- Designed to tackle dermatological problems like dandruff, flakes, thinning hair, and hives
- Has a conditioning effect (though it’s not marketed as a shampoo & conditioner)
- Safe for kittens as well as for older cats
This shampoo is made from all-natural ingredients and designed to be gentle on your cat’s skin.
- Has a pleasant, fresh smell that reviewers consistently praised
- Should leave your cat’s coat soft and fluffy, and won’t dry out their skin
- Lathers up well, so you won’t need to use a lot of it at a time
- Hypoallergenic and gentle, so it’s suitable for cats with sensitive skin or allergies
If you want an all-natural option that’s hypoallergenic, this is another great choice. It’s plant-based and doesn’t include any animal byproducts.
- The formula includes organic olive oil to hydrate and soften your cat’s skin
- It’s designed to be soft and gentle for cats who have sensitive skin or allergies
- The shampoo includes organic essential oils like lemongrass, which will help naturally repel fleas and ticks
- There’s a 30 day money back guarantee: you can get a full refund if you’re not satisfied, no questions asked
Medicated Cat Shampoos
While this shampoo is mainly marketed at dog owners, it’s also suitable for cats. It’s designed to help sooth bites and improve skin conditions, though it won’t actually kill fleas or mites.
- Includes the active ingredients Chlorhexidine Gluconate (an antibacterial) and Miconazole Nitrate (an antifungal) to treat skin conditions
- For it to be effective, you need to leave it on your cat’s skin for 10 minutes before rinsing off, and apply twice weekly until symptoms subside
- Reviewers said that this shampoo smelt good: it didn’t smell like medicine
- Can help with a range of different skin issues and may also help with allergies
This vet-recommended shampoo is antiseptic as well as being antibacterial. That means it’s a great option if your cat has a wound or an ear infection. It can also treat dermatitis, acne, and pyoderma.
- Can be used on a preventative basis to avoid skin problems occurring
- Needs to be left on your cat for 5 – 10 minutes of contact time before being rinsed off
- Safe for kittens as well as older cats (and can also be used on dogs and horses)
- Made in the USA in an NASC inspected laboratory
Dry Cat Shampoos
If you’re looking for a no-rinse shampoo, this foam cat shampoo is a great one to try. It’s made from all-natural ingredients so it shouldn’t irritate your cat’s skin.
- Doesn’t need to be rinsed out, so it’s a great option for cats who hate water
- Free from PEG-80, alcohol, and parabens
- Wahl offers a 30-day money back guarantee in case you don’t like the shampoo
- Has a lavender chamomile fragrance that most reviewers loved, but some said was a little strong
This foam shampoo cleans your cat’s fur without needing any rinsing. It’s designed to make it easy to brush oil and dirt out of your cat’s fur. The formula is highly concentrated, so you won’t need to use much at a time.
- Made in the USA with all-natural botanical extracts – the same ones used in the Paul Mitchell brand for humans
- Includes oatmeal, aloe, and chamomile to cleanse your cat without irritating their skin
- Leaves your cat’s fur feeling soft and clean
- Also available in a regular version that you lather on and wash out, which we featured as our budget pick above
This dry shampoo from Burt’s Bees is suitable for kittens as well as older cats. Like all their products, it’s free from colorants, sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, and more.
- No artificial fragrance or chemicals, so there’s no strong smell
- Easy to use – just spray your cat from the back of their ears to their tail, and brush through
- Will help make your cat’s coat fuller and softer
- If your cat doesn’t like being sprayed, you can spray the product onto your hand then rub it into their coat
While it’s not marketed as a dry shampoo, this anti-itch spray could do the job if you want something to sooth itchy skin and to help detangle your pet’s fur.
- Made from all-natural ingredients, including oatmeal and baking soda
- Will neutralize any odor and keep your cat smelling fresh
- Works as a detangling spray, too, making it easier to brush your cat’s hair
- Great eco-friendly credentials: made in the USA with locally sourced, sustainable ingredients – and the packaging is recyclable
This gentle shampoo uses a hypoallergenic formula and is specially designed for kittens and sensitive cats. It’s also suitable if your cat is pregnant or nursing.
- Perfect for kittens and for cats with sensitive skin, as it’s so gentle
- Designed to be tear-free and to avoid aggravating any allergies your cat may have
- Includes aloe vera and jojoba to gently cleanse your cat
- Minimal ingredients and no chemical nasties
This cat shampoo is made with especially mild and gentle ingredients that won’t irritate your cat’s eyes or sensitive skin. It’s suitable for kittens as well for older cats.
- Cleans well and rinses easily from your cat’s coat
- Suitable for long and short haired cats
- Great for getting off oil, and also good for softening mats so you can comb them out more easily
- Formula includes lanolin and protein to make your cat’s coat shine
This hypoallergenic shampoo is particularly well suited to cats with allergies, as it’s designed not to irritate those. It’s made from all-natural ingredients and it’s suitable for kittens as well as older cats.
- Made from natural ingredients, including shea butter to moisturize and honey to make your cat’s coat shine
- Mild, pH balanced formula that’s designed to be suitable for kittens and cats with allergies
- Free from parabens, phthalates, fragrances, sulfates, colorants, and harsh chemicals
- Won’t leave a scent on your cat, so a great option if you or your cat dislike fragrances
This non-tangle shampoo helps prevent your cat’s fur from getting matted or tangled. You can use it on kittens from the age of 6 weeks old, though of course it’s suitable for older cats too.
- Safe for kittens as young as 6 weeks old, due to the mild pH balanced formula
- Leaves your cat’s fur soft and silky, even several weeks after bathing
- Some reviewers disliked the fairly strong scent, which was likened to baby powder or perfume, but others loved it
- Great option for outdoor cats or particularly smelly cats
This shampoo includes microbeads infused with conditioners to moisturize your cat’s coat. Reviewers said it worked really well to remove dander as well as to improve hairball issues.
- Works by removing loose locks of hair so your cat doesn’t ingest them when grooming
- Will leave your cat’s coat feeling silky and looking shiny
- Includes microbeads, which you may want to avoid on environmental grounds
- Suitable for kittens of all ages as well as for older cats
This shampoo is made from nourishing shea butter and will help moisturize your cat’s skin, as well as soothing itchy skin.
- Suitable for kittens (and puppies too) as it’s gentle
- Formula is soap-free and tear-free, and only has a mild scent
- Will leave your cat’s fur really soft and silky
- Lathers up easily and is quick to wash off
Other Cat Shampoos
If you’re looking for a good all-round option, Dechra Dermallay Oatmeal Shampoo is designed to improve dry itchy skin.
- Has a pleasant smell, according to reviewers
- Recommended by vets
- Gentle, soothing, and soap-free formula
- Includes ceramaides to help moisturize and repair dry and damaged skin
This special shampoo is designed to prevent shedding, reducing the amount of hair your cat swallows when grooming.
- Doesn’t contain any parabens or chemical dyes
- Enriched with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- Can be used on all cats over 6 weeks old
- Needs to be left to work for 5 – 10 minutes before being rinsed off
If your pet suffers from dandruff, this is a great option. It’s designed to get your cat clean and moisturized, helping get rid of excess oils, dirt, dandruff, and any bad smells.
- Free from harsh chemicals like sulfates and parabens
- Based on natural plant extracts to gently but effectively clean your cat’s coat without irritating their skin
- Will leave your cat looking healthy, shiny, and supple
- Eco-friendly option from an environmentally responsible company
This hairball-control shampoo should prevent excess shedding, reducing the amount of hair your cat swallow.
- Includes antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids to moisturize your cat’s coat and leave them looking shiny and healthy
- Reviewers liked the smell, which isn’t too strong, and some even said their cats appeared to enjoy the smell too
- Will reduce the amount of hair your cat sheds, so should help if they have issues with hairballs
- Easy to rinse off after use on your cat
If you’ve got a long-haired cat, this shampoo could be the perfect pick. It’s made with organic aloe vera and it’s designed to make your cat’s coat shine.
- Cleans and conditions as well as providing a great shine for your cat’s coat
- Short list of ingredients, and no nasty chemicals
- Has a light aloe scent with no added fragrance
- Leaves your cat’s coat feeling silky and smooth