Can I use human shampoo on my cat? (7 safer alternatives to cat shampoo)


Cats like to keep themselves clean and are often grooming themselves. But you may still need to give them their occasional bath. And if you have run out of cat shampoo, you may wonder can I use human shampoo on my cat?

Can I use human shampoo on my cat?

No, you should not use human shampoo on cats as they are not suitable for cat’s skin and hair. Human skin has a different pH compared to cats. Human skin is more acidic in nature. Human shampoo can cause dryness and itching of your cat’s skin. Sometimes, it can lead to rashes and consistent itching which can lead to other health issues.

What happens if I use human shampoo on my cat?

Because human shampoos are too acidic and too harsh compared to cat shampoo, they can leave your cat with very dry and flaky skin. Frequent usage of human shampoo on cats can lead to permanent skin damage and can also be the cause of fur loss due to severe itching.

The ingredients in human shampoo can also damage your cat’s eyes if they get in contact with it. This can sometimes also cause temporary blindness.

Can human shampoo kill cats?

No, human shampoo may not kill your cat but in some cases, it may cause your cat to vomit, become nauseous, and slightly sick.

Human shampoo is not tested on cats, so there is no guarantee of its safety on cats. Your cat may behave differently to exposure to human shampoo.

Side effects of human shampoo on cats

The most common side effects of human shampoo on cats are dry and itchy skin. Apart from this, you may also notice the following.

  • Redness on skin
  • Loss of hair
  • Scratching or discomfort on skin

If human shampoo is ingested by your cat, it may show some or all of the following symptoms,

  • Vomiting and diarhea
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Coughing, sneezing or diffulculty in breathing

Why use cat shampoo?

You should use cat shampoo because it is made specifically for cats and has been tested for safety in cats.

They are made keeping in mind the pH balance of cat skins and are gentle and less harsh.

They do not have any harsh chemicals that may dry out your cat’s skin or cause excessive itching.

Cat shampoo will not cause any unwanted side effects on your cat and are safe to use.

Can I wash my cat with just water?

Yes, you can wash your cat with just water but it will provide no added benefits. Water cannot wash off excess oil, greasy fur, or the badly soiled coat of your cat.

Water can only remove dirt and soil but cannot clean oily fur. You need to use a shampoo or a soap to effectively clean oil and grease.

Apart from effective cleaning, a shampoo will also leave your cat’s fur smelling fresh and feeling soft.

How can I clean my cat’s fur without water?

If your cat doesn’t like taking a bath or gives you a hard time, you can try cleaning its fur without water. There are two ways you can do this.

  1. Use a wet towel to wipe your cat’s fur. Dampen a clean towel and gently rub your cat’s fur with it. If needed, you can also use shampoo or liquid soap while doing this and wipe off the lather with the towel.
  2. Use wet wipes or baby wipes to clean the cat’s fur. These wipes have a special lotion that not only cleans your cat’s fur but also leaves it smelling fresh.

Safer and effective alternatives to cat shampoo

If you do not have cat shampoo available at hand, here is a list of safer and effective alternatives to cat shampoo that you can safely use.

Baby shampoo

Unlike human shampoos, baby shampoos are safer and gentler on cats. This is because they are designed specifically for babies who have delicate skins.

Baby shampoos do not have harsh chemicals that can excessively dry your cat’s skin. They also come in as a no tears formula which is ideal to use on cats as they may not harm your cat’s eyes. These shampoos are a good alternative to cat shampoos to bathe your cat with.

Dawn Dish soap

Dawn Dish soap is an ideal alternative to shampoos to wash off grime and oil. But ensure that you use them as a diluted solution by mixing 1/4 cups of Dawn dish soap with 2 cups of warm water. If needed you can also add 1/2 cup of white vinegar which can help if your cat has dandruff or fleas.

Castile soap

Castile soap is a good alternative to cat shampoo as it is made from olive oil and is a naturally hydrating formula. It is also very gentle and good for moisturizing your cat’s skin.

Baking soda

Baking soda is a good agent to clean your cat’s fur without using water. It is effective in removing odor from your cat’s fur and at the same time cleaning it and giving it a gentle shine.

Rub some baking soda over your cat’s coat with your fingers and then gently brush it off.

Baby wipes

Baby wipes can be effectively used to spot clean your cat’s fur when it has got something dirty stuck in its coat. gently wipe off your cat’s fur or face with a wet wipe.

Dry shampoo

This dry shampoo is an easy do-it-yourself natural alternative that you can make at home. Mix an equal amount of oatmeal and cornmeal and add a couple of teaspoons of baking soda and corn starch. The oatmeal and cornmeal can gently exfoliate your cat’s skin while the baking soda can effectively deodorize your cat’s fur. The corn starch can give your cat’s fur a nice shine.

Waterless shampoo

Many waterless cat shampoos are also available in the market which can act as the best alternative for cats that hate water. These waterless shampoos can be in the form of powders, spray, or mousse which can be applied to your cat’s fur and wiped off. They may not be effective at cleaning oil or grime but at best can mask odor on the cat’s fur and make it feel fresh.


Cats don’t require a bath as often as dogs. But when they do, always ensure that you use a good cat shampoo made specifically for cats to wash their fur with. Using adult shampoo on cats is not a good idea for the safety and well-being of your cat.

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