Can You Use Human Shampoo on Cats

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Cats?

Cats love that clean life, they’ll grom their skin regularly removing any dirt, dead skin, or loose fur. But, if you’re to clean off piles of mud from the pet, can you use human shampoo on cats?

Simple answer, NO, don’t use human shampoo on cats – human shampoo’s pH imbalance makes it aggressive and will make the pet’s skin dry out. 

Also, human shampoo may cause painful irritation and flakiness on the cat. So, talk to the cat’s veterinarian about mild shampoos that will be great for your cat. 

  • Also, kittens have more delicate skin than adult cats, and thus to clean them off dirt, use shampoos formulated for kittens – avoid dog Shampoo too. 
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Details: Can You Use Human Shampoo on Cats?

Shampoos are designed to be species-specific and thus you must not use human or dog shampoo to bathe your cats. Minimize the number of bathes – like once every 6 weeks for short-haired breeds.

But for the longer-haired cat breeds such as the Himalayans and Persians, you can bathe them more often since they tend to get dirty easily. 

So, if the cat gets itself messed up such as when they knock down that food container, bathe them appropriately to avoid dirtying your laundry or seats. 

For a household that has many cats, it’s common that they’ll take up the work of cleaning each other. An older cat will take up cat grooming – thus need that cat-specific shampoo. 

If the cat-specific shampoo isn’t available, use some gentle dish soap, as opposed to using human shampoo – also check the ingredients in the dish soap – avoid original Dawn. 

Further, don’t use dog shampoo to clean your cat as it has harsh chemicals or ingredients that may harm the health of your cat or be toxic to your puppies. 

Don’t Use Human Shampoo on Cats! But Why? 

Veterinarians recommend not using human shampoos to clean your dog or cat – mainly because pets have different skin chemical compositions. 

  • The human skin, for instance, is more acidic compared to the pet’s skin and thus they aren’t usable interchangeably. 
  • Equally, humans will sweat from various spots of their skin while pets will only sweat through the paws and thus the moisture distribution will vary. 

Therefore, human shampoos will quickly dry out or burn the cat’s or dog’s fur and skin – which may lead to long long-term health and skin problems. 

Other health problems that may arise from using human shampoo include reduced immunity for the cats – which may make them susceptible to bacterial infections through the skin or open sores.

  • Therefore, I would recommend allowing the cats to undertake self-cleaning as opposed to cleaning them yourself – especially with harsh chemicals.

Further, ensure that the cleaning products your use on your cat has a pH that’s very close to that pH in the cat’s saliva and its ingredients are natural to avoid cat poisoning.

  • Also, remember that not all the cleaning products labeled as all-natural will be safe for your cats – despite being sage for humans and dogs.
  • Cats are known to be allergic to many all-natural ingredients and thus take care when considered such products that are not specially labeled as being cat-safe. 

Check the ASPCA  website to know the allergic reaction that the product or ingredient it may cause on your cat or dog – this makes sure the product won’t be toxic. 

Human Shampoos Aren’t Approved for Cats

On testing, human shampoos haven’t be approved scientifically for use in cleaning cats – this is mainly because, as I’ve noted above, cats have skin composition that’s different. 

  • However, no extensive tests have been undertaken on the reactions or side effects of human or dog shampoo products on their health. 

Thus, if you’ve used that human shampoo to clean your cats and haven’t seen any significant side effects, then it might be that you’ve used just minimal amounts for a limited time. 

  • But vets recommend you avoid using human shampoo for bathing your cat even for that one time or few times since cats may ingest and digest the toxic shampoo ingredients. 

Related: Flea Bombs

What to Do About Toxic Effects on Cats related to using Human Shampoo? 

If you’ve washed your cat with human shampoo, they may already be showing some side effects from the toxic ingredients. So, what should you do? 

First, remember that most shampoos aren’t effectively and scientifically tested on cats, and thus the effects or symptoms after use could vary between brands. 

  • However, some of the signs of toxicity of the human shampoo on the cat may include discomfort, scratching loss of hair, irritation, and redness. 
  • Further, if you notice the cat has diarrhea, vomiting, or lethargy, you’ll require to contact the vet for emergency treatment of the cat. 

So, if you suspect shampoo toxicity on your cat, you must talk to an expert vet. Also, take the cat to the vet for further examination of its skin outbreaks or infections. 

Related: Fogger for Bed Bugs


On the question, can you use human shampoo on cats? Don’t use human shampoos to clean your cats as they’ll dry out their skin and cause irritation.

  • Cats have sensitive skin compared to humans and dogs and thus you should only use cat-specific shampoo on dogs or very mild dish soap with vet-approved all-natural ingredients. 
  • Vets also recommend using deodorizing and cleansing shampoo made from ingredients that are all-natural. 

Should you use dish soap on your cat? Yes, but if used routinely, dishwashing soaps will remove the natural oils on the pet’s skin – which will dry out or result in breakouts – unlike the flea treatment for cats

So, finally, YES – both human or dog shampoo will be toxic on your cats and thus not safe.

The cat’s skin has a different pH balance to that of humans and dogs – thus human shampoo will dry out the cat’s skin. This may cause painful irritation, flakiness, skin drying, and aggressive behavior.