Can You Use Dog Shampoo For Cats?

What Kind Of Shampoo Can I Use On My CatPhoto by Alex Chambers on Unsplash

Cats, frankly, are not dogs. From a totally veterinarian view, cat care is absolutely, unequivocally and unquestionably different from dog care. Certain materials and care will have varying effects on these two species. This is a very good foundation of a standpoint when the question of can you use dog shampoo for cats arises.

Is it OK to bathe a cat?

Before we tackle the use of dog shampoo on cats, some readers might be wondering why you have to bathe cats when they are fully capable of grooming themselves.

While it is true that cats can clean themselves off using nothing but their tongues, your cat may put herself at a position that what she may lick off herself may be dangerous for her health.

If such a situation presents itself, it would be better if your cat is already used to being rinsed with water. As a cat owner, you should make sure your cat gets used to water rinsing from an early age.

If she gets into a scenario where she has to be cleaned from toxic materials sticking on her coat, she will be better off being rinsed than she licking herself on the chance that she ingests the material.

Another reason for bathing your cat with water is to reduce the sneezing, itchy eyes and wheezing commonly resulting from allergy to cats. In this scenario, rinsing is enough. No soap nor shampoo is required.

To get the best result out of rinsing the cat for allergy reasons, it should be done weekly.

With that said, it will not be easy to get an adult cat to put up with weekly rinsing. For kittens, however, they could be trained to not claw their way out of being rinsed, with enough treats and encouragement.

Now let us go back to the question: Can you use dog shampoo for cats?


Flea control products that are specifically meant for dogs will have a different effect on cats. If you use a product meant to combat fleas in dogs, you might be putting your cat at risk. That is usually true even for shampoos utterly made of natural ingredients.

In general, it is always better to first consult a vet when you are about to use dog products for your cat.

Cat Coat

A cat’s coat is a very important accessory. It serves as a beacon of their general well-being. If a cat’s coat is healthy looking – sleek, fine, soft and lustrous – it generally means that they are in good health.

Their coat is also a means of communication, to other cats, to prey and even to their humans.

It is therefore extremely necessary to maintain your cat’s coat. Though cats naturally shed their fur at different times of the year, the owner should still brush them regularly.

Brushing helps get rid of dead hair, and helps keep mites, fleas, ticks and other parasites.

When grooming the cat, you should also look for other signs of health issues. Look for patches of baldness, for wounds, for infections or even for infestations.

If you notice anything that may be causing your cat pain, take her to the vet immediately.

Bathing the Cat

In some circumstances, bathing a cat may be called for. Of course, as a cat owner, you should only do this for the benefit of your beloved pet.

If ever you do decide to bathe your cat, you should have all the materials needed to get the job done right.

The Shampoo: Can you use dog shampoo for cats?

There are many cat shampoos formulated specifically for certain uses and purposes. Some are even designed for specific breeds.

Every shampoo should be certified by professionals as to their effectiveness. This means that the product should be suitable for your cat’s fur, skin and for her certain condition.

Achieving such a verification for dog products is almost impossible.

So can you use dog shampoo for cats? No! As adequately explained above, feline coat, fur and skin are extremely sensitive.

The dog shampoo might not have extreme or visible ramifications on a short term basis, but there will be quite a significant consequence.

Cats and Dogs are Different

Though cats and dogs both need their coats maintained, they need different forms of maintenance because their coats are not the same.

They are different in structure, in thickness and most importantly, pH levels. A cat’s pH level is higher acidity than that of a dog’s.

If you use dog shampoo on a cat, there may not be an immediate effect. However, over regular use, it will change a cat’s skin and damage it.

Dog shampoo can make a cat’s coat harder for them to groom and clean. Dog shampoo also can dry out the skin and increase the risk of infestations of mites, ticks, fleas, or other parasites.

Can You Use Dog Shampoo For Cats
Can You Use Dog Shampoo For Cats

Another major cause for concern is that dog shampoo usually contains permethrin, an insecticide meant to kill off parasites on a dog.

Permethrin is dangerous to cats, to say the least. If a cat happens to inhale this substance, she may suffer respiratory paralysis, muscle contraction and even death.

If swallowed, or if enough concentration comes into contact with a cat’s skin, permethrin causes ataxia (muscle incoordination), tremors, diarrhea, respiratory stress, and vomiting among others.

What if You Do Not Have Any Other Shampoo?

Bathing does not have to be done with shampoo. As long as your cat is regularly groomed with a brush, is healthy and not stressed, rinsing is the only sort of bathing she may need.

Using shampoo only comes when quite a bad case of infestation, or other causes of concern, occurs. You may also want to try homemade cat shampoo. As long as your cat is healthy, there is no need to bother with using any shampoo..

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