Cats are meticulous groomers and most cats can go a long time without a bath. But at times when they do get dirty, you have no other option than to give them a proper bath. And although getting your cat near water can be a little bit difficult, a good bath will make their coat shinier, healthier, and more manageable.
Since cats rarely need a bath, a cat shampoo may not be something that most owners keep handy. And in situations like these, the cat owners can be tempted to use a baby shampoo instead. But can you use baby shampoo on cats? Is baby shampoo safe for cats and kittens?
Using a baby shampoo on cats can be harmful for their coat because they are not designed for cat skin. The ingredients in baby shampoos (and other human shampoos in general) can dry out the delicate fur on cats’ skin and leave it feeling brittle and rough. You can get away with using baby shampoo on cats once or twice if there’s an emergency but using it regularly for cats is a bad idea.
To get your cat clean while also protecting their coat from drying out or breaking down, you should use a high-quality cat shampoo instead.
Is Baby Shampoo Safe for Cats and Kittens?
Baby shampoo is not safe for either cats or kittens. In fact, it can be quite harsh on their skin.
Let’s find out the reasons why a baby shampoo should never be used on cats or kittens.
Difference Between Human and Cats Skin
The main reason not to use a baby shampoo for cats is that there is a difference between human skin and cat skin. Humans and cats have different skin pH levels.
According to this article published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, a cat’s skin pH level is between 6.39-6.64. This is different from the pH level of human skin, which according to this study averages below 5.0 and is acidic in nature.
This means that a shampoo with wrong pH value can be harsh on cats. In addition to this, a cat’s fur is also different from a human’s hair.
Difference Between Human and Cat Shampoo
Many first-time cat owners are unaware of the exact difference between a human and cat shampoo. So here are the main differences that makes baby shampoo unsuitable for cats and kittens.
- Ingredients: Human shampoos are harsher and have different chemical makeup.
- PH balance: As mentioned above, cats and humans have different basic pH levels. Thus, using normal shampoo can irritate and damage your cat’s skin and coat.
- Sensitive skin: Compared to us, cats have very sensitive skin that can easily become irritated. This is especially true for young kittens.
So, you must not use baby shampoo on cats or kittens, and opt for a high-quality cat shampoo instead to bathe your feline.
What Shampoo Can Be Used on Cats?
Even though baby shampoos are gentler, they are still formulated for different pH skin levels. Normal shampoos can be too harsh for a cat’s skin and can cause skin irritations, dryness, and hair loss.
So, the ideal shampoos for cats should be pH balanced for their skin, and must also contain ingredients that can help condition their fur and leave it looking healthy and shiny.
Let’s look at good shampoos for cats.
Earthbath All Natural Cat Shampoo and Conditioner
The Earthbath Cat Shampoo is made of natural ingredients and specially formulated for the sensitive cat skin.
Furthermore, it also works as a conditioner and comes in different varieties. The oatmeal and aloe soothe the dry and itchy skin and moisturizes the skin and coat.
Earthbath 2-in-1 Conditioning Cat Shampoo – Extra Gentle Shampoo & Conditioner, Made in the USA – Light Wild Cherry, 16oz
A mild cleaning formula and fresh cherry scent will leave your cat clean and smelling great after a bath!
It’s 2 in 1 use as a shampoo as well as a conditioner is one of the biggest benefits of this product. The downside is that it can’t be used on kittens younger than 6 weeks.
This shampoo is specially formulated for cats and their skin pH levels and hence is highly recommended.
Most owners state that this shampoo worked great for their long-haired cats and managed to de-tangle their coat. However, some owners state that the cherry scent can be a bit overpowering.
Espree Kitten Shampoo
The Espree Kitten Shampoo is a tear-free product and specially formulated for young kittens and nursing cats. It is made of 100% organic aloe and jojoba oil which are suitable for their sensitive skin.
This is a hypoallergenic shampoo for young kittens that never had a bath.
Besides making the coat clean, this shampoo also conditions it and won’t burn your kitten’s eyes. So, the fact that it can be used on very young kittens is great. However, the baby powder aroma can be a bit strong for the nose.
So, while you can wash a kitten with baby shampoo occasionally, find a shampoo formulated for kittens like this one instead.
Buyers stated that this shampoo cleans and soothes the skin and is safe for kittens. However, some of them didn’t like their kittens smelling like baby powder.
Here are some more cat shampoo options you can consider.
Apart from the ones listed above, there are several different cat shampoos on the market. So, you can also get one that’s not the list and is best suited for your cat’s individual needs.
When in doubt, consult with your veterinarian about the best type of shampoo to use on your cat.
So, Can You Use Baby Shampoo on Cats?
The answer is yes, but only occasionally when there is no cat shampoo available and only in a case of an emergency. Despite being gentle, baby shampoo isn’t formulated for cats and regular long-term use can cause skin problems in cats.
Your cat deserves only the best grooming and care. There are many different types of cat shampoo available on the market that are specifically formulated to clean and condition cats’ coats without causing any irritation.
So, treat her with one of the shampoos listed above. There is no need to use human products, when the ones designed for cats are safe, work better and are easily available.
Here are some other commonly asked questions about using baby shampoo on cats.
Can I Use Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo on Cats?
Human baby shampoo, such as Johnson & Johnson, is not designed for cats and can cause skin problems if used regularly.
Can I Use Dog Shampoo on Cats?
Dog shampoo is not designed for cats. The pH levels of dogs are different than that of cats. Also, if the shampoo contains flea and tick protection formula, it can be harmful to cats. So, using a dog shampoo on cats can cause problems.
Can I Use Dish Washing Liquid on My Cat?
Dish washing liquid is a harsh detergent and can be very damaging to a cat’s skin. I would not recommend that you use this on your cat. Plus, why use a dish washing soap when there are specially formulated shampoos for cats that do a better job?
Can You Use Baby Shampoo to Kill Fleas on Cats or Kittens?
Baby shampoo can reduce fleas on felines but should not be used for this application. There are specific flea treatments available that are safe for cats. Consult with your veterinarian to find the best treatment.