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Can I Use Baby Shampoo on My Cat (Will it hurt)?

If you are considering bathing your cat you may have looked at the best cat shampoo available (Click here for my best choice on Amazon #Ad). But, maybe you have even been considering other solutions, such as baby shampoo. But, can that be used?

Can you use baby shampoo on a cat? Yes, you can use baby shampoo on a cat. However, it is not ideal and not recommended. This is because cats do not need a bath unless they have got uncontrollably dirty. Also, there is a shampoo designed for them which is much safer.

What you will need to shampoo your Cat or Kitten

Description Image My Rating
01. Burt’s Bees Cat Shampoo (Best Option)
Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad
5 stars
02. Espree Shampoo (Best for Kittens)
Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad
03. John Paul Pet Shampoo
Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad
4 stars

Now that you know that it is ok, but not recommended (Click here for my article comparing two top cat shampoo brands Vet’s Best vs Tropiclean Cat Shampoo), let me explain why this is not a good idea. Also, other similar options to avoid, how to bath your cat correctly if needed, and more. Keep reading…

Why shouldn’t cats use Baby shampoo?

The reason I say this is not ideal is for two main reasons. I mentioned earlier, briefly, cats generally do not need to be bathed. The only exception to this is if they get exceptionally dirty. When I say “exceptionally” I mean, so much so they are unable to lick and groom the dirt off, are you with me?

For example, if she fell into a big bucket of mud or even worse, tar. In this situation, she could not physically clean this off. And you wouldn’t want her to attempt to lick this off, right?

Apart from these rare exceptions, cats typically groom and bathe himself ( Click here to see my article: Is it Bad to Give Your Cat a Bath?). Even if they do need to be bathed. Baby shampoo is not the ideal remedy.

This is because there are specific cat shampoos that are available on the market that are designed for their skin sensitivity and pH level.

However, as I said earlier it is possible to use baby shampoo. But you have to make sure that you use the correct one which is going to be mild enough for their skin so it does not cause irritation.

What is the difference between baby & normal shampoo?

Shampoo bottles.

Shampoo bottles.

The biggest difference between baby shampoo and adult shampoo is the fact that they are advertised to not cause eye or skin irritation. The big sale is its “kind for kids”. The angle used in these advertisements is it’s allegedly “tear-free”.

This is the reason why people believe that baby shampoo is a better choice than an adult shampoo with regards to using it for cats.

How is this achieved?

They claim to achieve this by not using any Artificial Colours or other chemicals in the product. However in reality, if you look into the ingredients of some of these products you will see it is not a lot different from the adult version.

In some cases, you will find the same chemical agents and sulfates found in the adult version but with a  reduced quantity. Therefore, making it a solution should not be used for cats. And, questionable even for babies.

Will baby shampoo hurt your cat?

It depends on which one you use. If you go for an unscented shampoo then it reduces the chance of irritation and the alkaline level is closer to a cat’s. Therefore, there is less chance of it irritating your cat’s skin.

There are also some soaps, such as the castile soap, which has been known to be used with cats. This particular soap is known to have additional moisturizing qualities that will stop your cat drying out.

However, the best solution is to use actual cat shampoo, which has been specifically designed for their needs.

What is the difference between cat and dog shampoo?

A cat and dog in a bath with shampoo.

A cat and dog in a bath with shampoo.

You may be wondering could you not just go ahead and use a dog shampoo instead then? The reality is you cannot do this because most dog shampoos can be toxic and very dangerous for your cat.

The reason for this is, dog shampoo is formulated specifically for dogs. However, dogs have very different sensitivities to cats. Therefore the chemicals used in a dog product can cause severe irritation or even be toxic for a cat. Therefore, it is not advised to consider doing this.

Is Johnson’s Baby Shampoo good for cats?

If you have been searching the web for solutions or confirmation that you can use different types of shampoos for your cat.

You may have come across people discussing if it is a good idea to use Johnson’s Baby Shampoo for your cat. For that reason, in this section, I’m going to discuss if this is a good idea or not.

Firstly Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is called baby shampoo for a reason. This is because it is designed for babies and not cats. Are you with me?

Therefore it is not a good idea to use this on your cat. The reason why people gravitate to Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is because it is quite a mild shampoo.

If you do have to use baby shampoo, then most people look out for one that is unscented, not concentrated, and does not have any additional chemicals in it.

The Johnson’s Baby Shampoo ticks a lot of these boxes. Which makes people believe it is a good solution to use for their cat.

How about short term usage?

On a short-term basis, to be honest, you may get away with using it. But regardless, it is not a long-term solution and I would not advise using it for your cat.

If bathing your cat is something that you need to do regularly it is better to buy a specific cat shampoo rather than trying to cut corners.

Is baby shampoo safe for kittens?

Now that you know about cats and baby shampoo, you may be curious about kittens, does the same rule apply to them?

You can use baby shampoo on kittens, or even mild dish soap. But, similar to cats its not advised. This is because there are better options available, such as using a shampoo designed specifically for kittens. They are formulated directly for kittens.

So, now you know that kittens should not use baby shampoo, and they should use dedicated kitten shampoo (Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad).

At what age can you bathe a kitten?

Now that you know that kittens can be washed. You may be wondering what age is the best tie to start doing this, right?

You should wait until at least 4 weeks before you bathe a kitten. Before this, it is not recommended. Any tie after this is ideal. Your kitten will benefit from the bath. Especially if they are really dirty and struggling to groom themself because of it.

So, now you know what age you can bathe your kitten.

Do kittens need a bath?

So, now you know what age to bath them and the best shampoo, you may be wondering if they need a bath in the first place, right?

Kittens do need a bath from time to time. However, if they are good at grooming themselves, naturally, then you may not need to bathe them too regularly. Maybe as little as a couple of times a year. Unless they get heavily soiled. For example, coved in paint or mud.

So, now you know that kittens do need to be bathed and the expected frequency of these baths.

Can I bathe my kitten with dish soap?

As well as baby shampoo, you may be wondering about using dish soap, instead of recommended kitten shampoo (Click here for the price on Amazon #Ad).

You can use dish soap on a kitten, but it needs to be a mild version. But, ideally, you should use dedicated instead of this because it is formulated for kittens. If you do use dish soap make sure your wash the kitten gently because most kittens are fearful of the water.

So, now you know that you can use dish soap on kittens and why it’s not recommended.

What should I avoid when looking for cat shampoo?

The things to avoid in a cat shampoo are artificial ingredients. Also, it is better to avoid fragranced shampoos as these can irritate the skin.

When I say avoid natural ingredients I mean, for example, ingredients like alcohol, phenol or parabens. If you are wondering what sort of ingredients you should check for, then things like aloe is a good start.

When should you consider bathing your cat?

There are a few reasons that you should bathe your cat. Such as its a senior cat and having joint issues, got soiled heavily and its unable to remove it, it is a harliess cat and needs help removing the excess body oil, or it is riddled with fleas and needs treatment.

These are situations that make bathing mandatory, as a cat owner. However, some cat owners choose to bathe their cat regardless.

What types of cat shampoo can you get?

There are 3 main types of cat shampoo: Waterless, shampoo & conditioner, and standard cat shampoo. The former, waterless, is a common favorite because of its convenience.

With this shampoo, as teh name suggests, you do not need to run a bath. Meaning, you can avoid the inevitable resistance from your cat or getting scratched.

The shampoo with conditioner is exactly what it suggests, a combination of both. Meaning you can keep their fur clean as well as keep their coat shinny and nourished.

What other alternatives to baby shampoo can I use?

Some cat owners use a homemade oatmeal shampoo to avoid using an off-the-shelf product. This is basically a combination of organic oatmeal, Dawn dish soap and baking soda.

The use of oatmeal is known to work well on your cats skin and the cat smell is dealt with by the baking soda. It is a personal preference, some love the option of homage organic products. Whereas others prefer the convenience of a branded product from the store.

How can you bathe a cat and avoid getting scratched?

To avoid getting scratched while bathing your cat you will need some protective gloves or a cat grooming bag. The former, the protective gloves, will keep your hands from getting scratched. Wheras the latter, the grooming bag, will help protect your arms or other body parts.

Some cats get used to bathing and this may not be required in time. But, some put up regular resistance and need some other measures. This is helpful, especially if you have a cat that needs your help bathing, such as elderly cats.

Related question:

In this section, I am going to answer some questions related to cats and shampoo. If you feel there are some questions unanswered, feel free to drop a comment below.

Q: Can I use Dawn dishwashing liquid for my cat?

You may have heard rumors that you can use Dawn dishwashing liquid for your cat. People have discussed if this is a good idea to use for their cats, in particular for flea control. The reality is some cat owners have used Dawn liquid for their cats and swear by it.

According to this site, the one that works is the original blue version. However, I wouldn’t advise this as a solution for your cat.

If you have a flea problem with your cat there is specific cat flea shampoo solutions (Click here to see) that you can get hold of instead of using Dawn for this reason.

Also if you do still consider going ahead with this, regardless of the warnings, make sure that you don’t consider using just any random dishwashing liquid, in the absence of the dawn original blue, because you do not know what the effects will be.

Q: Is it ok to never bathe my cat?

Yes, you can get away with not bathing your cat. Think about it this way in the wild how do they survive without us bathing them?

The only exception to this rule is if they have a medical issue and they are unable to groom themselves. Or, you may have a rare issue where they fall into a substance that completely covers their coat.

In that situation, she will be unable to clean themselves so you would need to help her. For example, as I said earlier, she fell into a whole bucket of mud, paint, or tar. Obviously, this is rare. You probably will never have to deal with this.

Q: Why is my cat licking obsessively after bathing with shampoo?

If you have recently bathed your cat and you have noticed that she is obsessively licking herself, you may be standing there and scratching your head wondering what this could be. For that reason, in this section, I’m going to explain what this may be and how you can get around it.

The chances are, if you see your cat behaving in this manner, it is because she is desperately trying to dry herself off after leaving the bath.

This can happen if you have not correctly rinsed her, before allowing her to leave the bath. And, it can cause issues. Why? Because the soap suds will effectively be licked up by your cat and then digested.

These soaps odds are not designed for a cat to digest and therefore can cause digestive irritations. Also, the leftover soap which hasn’t been rinsed off can dry out the skin.

Therefore it is important to completely rinse any soap suds before you allow your cat to leave the bath. Also, make sure that she is dried off properly once she leaves the bath.

Lindsey Browlingdon