Can I Bathe My Cat With Baby Shampoo?

A baby’s skin is sensitive, which is why most manufacturers of baby shampoo use the softest, gentlest ingredients to protect babies from adverse reactions.

Likewise, a cat’s skin is sensitive, too, which is why you may have wondered if it is OK to use baby shampoo to bathe cats. This is a legitimate question–one we will answer for you today.

But first, a more pressing question…

Do I have to bathe my cat? Is it really necessary?

The answer is that cats groom themselves naturally, so bathing them is typically not necessary. However, there are occasions when you may need to bathe your cat, like if they soiled themselves in the litter box, if they develop fleas, or let’s say your toddler uses the cat as a painting canvas! Then it’s time for a bath.

Even though it is usually not necessary to bathe your cat, it is a good idea to know the process if the occasion comes where your furry friend needs a bath.

And that brings me back baby shampoo…baby shampoo is perfect for babies, but does that mean it’s perfect for cats, too?

What are the ingredients in baby shampoo?

First, let’s take a look at the ingredients in baby shampoo. Some of the popular brands are Johnson’s Baby, Aveeno Baby, and Baby Dove.

There are 18 ingredients listed for Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, including cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium chloride, sodium trideceth sulfate, glycerin,  and citric acid. The first ingredient in the shampoo is water. There are no sulfates or dyes in Johnson’s baby shampoo.

Other baby shampoos showed similar ingredients. These ingredients are all pediatrician and dermatologist-tested to be safe for a baby’s skin.

If baby shampoo is safe for babies, is it good for cats?

The answer is yes. Because the ingredients in baby shampoo are gentle, they are typically safe for cats, as well.

Is baby shampoo safe for cats?

Even though baby shampoo usually works fine for cats, the answer is there’s a better choice. You see, baby shampoo is designed for babies, not for cats. It is fine to use on occasion, but cat shampoos are a better choice since they are made just for cats. Most cat shampoos include all- natural ingredients that wash and moisturize a cat’s skin and fur. Most cat shampoos will not wash off topical flea applications, so that is another plus.

Tips for choosing a quality Cat Shampoo

When it comes to choosing the best shampoo for your cat, look at the ingredients. You want to avoid ingredients with synthetic and artificial ingredients like:

  • Alcohol
  • Parabens
  • Phenol
  • Permenthrin
  • Pyrethins
  • Pyergroids

Instead, look for cat shampoos with no artificial additives, but include ingredients like aloe and lanolin.  Also, look for fragrance-free shampoos, as they can irritate your cat’s skin. If your cat has any skin conditions, such as dryness, look for shampoos that treat these.

A great option is Four Paws Magic Coat Cat Tearless Shampoo. It is perfect for all coat types and includes a gentle formula with protein and lanolin.

Another solid choice is Earthbath All Natural Cat Shampoo. It is a 2-in-1 conditioning cat formula, especially for sensitive skin. If you have a long-haired cat, this would be a good option since it is also designed to treat tangled fur.

How do I bathe my cat anyway?

Cats are notorious for their hatred for water, so bathing one can be a task. Some cat owners try to bathe their cat as quickly as possible to get the process over with, but often in their haste, they don’t wash out the shampoo thoroughly, causing itching on the cat’s skin.

Before bathing your cat, gather the following supplies:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Shampoo (either baby shampoo or cat shampoo)
  • A large pitcher or gentle spray nozzle for rinsing
  • A large towel
  • Cotton balls to clean the ears
  • A small cloth to clean the face

The easiest place to wash your cat (assuming he fits!) is the bathroom or kitchen sink. If you have an extra-large kitty, you may need to bathe him in the bathtub.

  1. First, put on your rubber gloves. Even “nice” cats can scratch, especially during baths!
  2. Fill the sink with lukewarm water.
  3. Then, wet the cat from the shoulders to the tail and apply shampoo
  4. Lather and rinse thoroughly
  5. Use a damp washcloth to wipe down your cat’s face and head
  6. Use a cotton ball to clean inside your cat’s ears
  7. After rinsing, lift your cat into a towel and fold her up
  8. Rub as much water as possible off with the towel

When bathing your cat, be gentle and thorough. Don’t rush her bath, but also don’t spend unnecessary time lathering her up. Most cats are not going to enjoy bath time, so try to be as quick as you can, without sacrificing efficiency.

You don’t understand my cat. There’s no way I can bathe her; what do I do?

Yes, I do understand because my cat Libby would never, in a million years, let me bathe her. She’s so skittish around people that every time she goes to the vet, she needs to be sedated.

If you have a cat like mine, and you can’t bear the thought of giving her a bath, you can contact a groomer who works with cats. Yes, you will be paying a few bucks (usually between $20-$50), but if your cat really needs a bath, it will be well worth it.

Sometimes groomers come to your house, which can be convenient if you have an anti-social, anxious cat.

In addition, there are other less evasive options, such as dry shampoo for cats and grooming cat wipes. While these may not give your cat the most thorough cleaning, they are still worth checking out.

Conclusion

Is it necessary to bathe your cat? Not regularly, but on occasion, yes.

Is baby shampoo safe for cats? Yes! But cat shampoo is a better choice since it’s designed especially for your feline’s skin and hair needs.

David Fields is a long-time animal lover and has been blessed to share his life with many companions. A short list includes ragdoll cats, siberian husky and greyhound dogs, an African Grey parrot, many fish of all sorts, and a pandemonium of parakeet. He writes most of the articles on iPetCompanion and is regularly featured on other popular websites on the Internet.

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