Can You Use Dog Shampoo on Cats

Can You Use Dog Shampoo on Cats?

This article will answer the question, “can you use dog shampoo on cats?”

Unlike dogs, cats don’t need to be bathed as often; they keep their fur healthy and clean using their tongue.

So, caring for a cat can be easy, but there are some instances where your feline friend needs a more intensive shampoo, maybe to remove bad smells or contamination.

So, if you’re worried if you can use dog shampoo for your cats; this article is for you!

  • The answer: Simply, NO. Most dog shampoos have harsh chemicals, ingredients (like tar and permethrin), and high pH that can be toxic to cats. 
  • Thus, only you use feline-friendly shampoo for grooming your kitty. Also, If you use dog products on your cat, consult with your vet first before trying it.

Dog shampoo and other flea-control products (even those with natural ingredients) put cats at a greater health risk than it does to its canine cousins.

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Why Must You Avoid Using Dog Shampoo On Cats?

Many people wonder why they should bathe their cats as self-grooming is a natural feline instinct. There are two things you might want to consider:

  • You may need to wash off something your cat got into and get it out of his fur so that he won’t ingest it when grooming.
  • The second reason, which is probably more common, is that your cat may have fleas or other parasites.

So, what should you use instead?

  • If you’re on the fence about whether or not your pet needs assistance with its grooming routine, at least consider using natural products that are skin-great for cats.

1. Harmful Chemicals like Permethrin and Tar

Using dog shampoo on cats is not a good idea because some shampoos contain chemicals that are harmful to cats.

Some of these chemicals include permethrin, selenium sulfite, tea tree oils, and coal tar, etc.

You should not use dog shampoo on cats, just like you would never use baby shampoo on a cat to avoid the long-lasting effects.

  • Some shampoos that are safe for cats include Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo, Herbal Conditioning Hair Rinse, Honeydew Melon Pet Shampoo, and more.
  • If you have a kitten or older cat with long hair then it is best to use some type of conditioner after shampooing especially if your home is dry.

Some people also leave the conditioner in their cat’s fur after washing it to prevent tangles and matting, but this is not necessary unless your cat has long hair that gets tangled easily.

For an alternative option for you and your pet, you can use some type of olive oil as a moisturizer.

2. pH Differences (Cats pH 6)

One can answer the question of whether one should use dog shampoo on cats by considering how pH levels are different for each animal.

The pH balance of an animal’s coat is unique to its species. Dogs have a different pH level than cats, for example, and this denotes the coat’s acidity.

Can you use dog shampoo on cats? No, this is not a recommended practice. Dogs have a higher pH level than cats and even humans!

  • Dogs pH 7.5
  • cats pH 6
  • humans pH 5.5

When making shampoos it is important to take into consideration the pH levels of its various components and how the final product will affect the pet.

When it comes to animal grooming products, each type is made with different pH that is appropriate for the species.

If you use a shampoo labeled as dog shampoo on your cat, it might wash off his fur and cause health issues – like damaging their skin.

Related: 20 Mule Team Borax Pest Control

3. Cause damage to Sensitive skin

Dogs and cats have different skin needs, and it is not recommended that you use dog-specific products on your cat because it can damage their skin and fur, which will impact how they groom themselves.

Using dog shampoo on cats may attract parasites that are normally found on dogs and so cleaning or pest control will be much more difficult.

Are you considering herbal dog shampoos for bathing the cat? Please don’t! They have natural oils such as tea-tree oil that are toxic to cats but may be safe for humans and dogs.

  • Important, cats and kittens lack the enzymes required to break down these natural oils and so they can become toxic if they remain on your cat for long.

This is the case even with diluted oils as they’ll accumulate to harmful levels that will end up blocking the cat’s skin pores and it’s harming its fur texture.

  • Sadly, the kitten’s coat will also absorb these natural oils leading to skin damage.

4. Harmful Insecticides

Some dog shampoos have pesticides or insecticides to deal with flea or tick problems. Sometimes these chemicals can hurt cats.

For example, ingredients meant to control fleas or flies on dogs may be harmful to your cat.

Permethrin is an insecticide that is often used in dog shampoo. It’s harmful to cats, especially if the cat comes into contact with it for a prolonged period of time.

So, what’s the alternative?

  • Well, use pyrethrin shampoos on your cat (but in lower quantities) as it’ll be safer compared to the dog shampoos.

There are specific dog shampoos manufactured for the needs of dogs, and it can be tempting to use these products on cats.

However, dog shampoo contains harsh chemicals that may damage a cat’s skin or cause “dandruff.” If your cat has an open wound, avoid using these dog shampoos altogether.

Alternative Natural Products to Wash your Cat?

Organic shampoos are usually the best choice for your pet. They use a variety of natural ingredients that will clean and condition their fur at the same time without leaving any harmful residue behind.

Organic shampoos also typically have less concentrated suds, which means you don’t need to worry about them damaging sensitive skin on your cat’s face or neckline.

You can find organic shampoo in most major retailers like Whole Foods Market, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Target so it shouldn’t be hard to locate one near you!

  • Harsh chemicals may strip away essential oils from their coat
  • Pets with allergies could react poorly if they come into contact with these products during bathtime
  • Added fragrances should

I recommend some of these natural substitutes to wash your cat safely and effectively;

  • Lemon Spray
  • Aloe vera juice
  • Cedar chips
  • Peppermint extract
  • Apple Cider Vinegar

So, to give you cat that clean wash, heal its wounds, and hydrates their skin use a cat shampoo and ensure its age-appropriate.

  • It’ll be a plus if the cat shampoo or soap also has cat-friendly pest control ability such as exterminating fleas, flies, and ticks.

Related: IGR for Fleas


In summary on the question; can you use dog shampoo on cats? No, the cat-specific products will provide the best results for them during bath time.

You should only wash kittens with shampoos made especially for cats as well because they are more delicate and need gentler cleaning agents.

If you want your pet to feel clean after its bathtime session, I recommend some of these natural substitutes to wash your cat;

  • Lemon spray (use this instead of bleach),
  • Aloe vera juice (great for dry or irritated skin)
  • Cedar chips (for waterproofing),
  • Peppermint extract(keeps fleas away).
  • Apple Cider Vinegar

I would love to hear what products other pet owners have found that they like best for their kitty!

What natural alternatives did you try? Let me know in the comments below or at @PestPolicy) on Twitter !”