Can You Use Human Shampoo On Cats: Top 9 Best Alternatives

Can you use human shampoo on cats? Most cat owners have asked that question at some points. Not everyone has a dedicated soap for their pets. Unfortunately, human shampoo is not a good alternative.

There are many safer and better options than an adult shampoo. Keep reading to discover the answer!

Can You Use Human Shampoo On Cats?

The answer is no. 

Why? There are a lot of reasons behind it, but the simple explanation is that human shampoo consists of formulas and ingredients with a different pH relative to cats. And this can lead to undesirable consequences.

However, can you use baby shampoo on cats? It’s one of the ideal alternatives, which we’ll show you in the next part.

Human shampoo isn't for cats
Human shampoo isn’t for cats.

Why Can’t Wash Your Cat With Human Shampoo? 

Difference Between Human and Cat Skin

The first factor to consider is pH level. There is a big difference in pH between human skin and cat skin. Humans will have a pH on their skin that hovers around 5.5. Meanwhile, the pH of cat one is relatively higher, falling between 7 and 7.14.

Moreover, there are many sweat glands for excretion on the human body, but not on cats. Therefore, in terms of structure and properties,  human skin and cat skin have big differences.

Shampoos Hub
Shampoos Hub

Difference In Shampoo Formula 

As mentioned above, there is a difference in humidity and acidity in human and feline skin. Pet shampoo manufacturers need to prepare their products with the right formula to bring the best effect.

For example, if you use Head and Shoulder shampoo, you will find that it will be more acidic. This type of shampoo will also take longer to dry when used than a specialized cat’s one.

Now let’s dig deeper into the components inside. You can easily find sulfates, colors, and parabens in human shampoo products. These substances are especially harmful to the skin of cats, especially the harmful ingredients that create scents that can irritate.

Cat's pH level is lower than human's one
Cat’s pH level is lower than human’s one.

What Happens If You Use Human Shampoo on Your Cat? 

Cause of Long-Term Issues

Can human shampoo kill cats? The answer is no! Nevertheless, they will lead to serious consequences that no one expects.

Many people believe that minor irritation can be short-lived, and the pet will quickly recover from the disease. However, they were wrong. Sometimes you have to pay a much more expensive price for your actions.

The human shampoo contains ingredients that remove a large amount of sweat and sebum from human skin. They will absorb moisture on the cat’s skin and lose natural oils.

This layer of natural oils acts as a layer to protect your pet from dirt and bacteria. In the long run, their immune systems can be affected and cause diseases like infections.


Skin irritation or dryness is an early sign of infection and toxicity. Chemical ingredients that cause skin wear and damage, some that you can find in popular products:

  • Artificial fragrance
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Color
  • Paraben

Once a cat’s skin is poisoned, recovery is more difficult than with mild symptoms such as irritation or itching. Toxicity can lead to prolonged hair loss, affect the immune system, and cause more serious digestive and respiratory systems diseases.

What Should I Do If I Accidently Use Human Shampoo On My Cats? 

Check For Signs Of Irritation & Illness

If you have accidentally used human shampoo on your dog, it is your responsibility to monitor their skin condition regularly. Check for any signs of excessive dryness leading to flaking, redness, swelling, or irritation.

If your feline friend shows no signs of severe skin issues, just a bit dry, continue to observe as they heal.

Moisturize Their Skin

Human shampoo removes essential oils from the cat’s skin that lead to dry and sensitive skin. Moisturizing is a necessary step to help them heal faster.

You can learn and use specialized moisturizers for cats. Or the traditional way is to use coconut oil. Natural coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties and effectively soothes skin irritations. They also help to make the cat’s hair shiny and smooth.

Take Them To The Vet

However, moisturizing is only effective when the cat’s dry skin doesn’t show any other signs. Improper one will make the inflammation worse.

Take them to the vet right away if you detect any serious symptoms so that the doctors can handle them promptly.

Alternatives to Cat Shampoo? 

What can I use instead of cat shampoo? As for alternatives to cat shampoo, the general note is that they should have a pH between 7 and 7.14.

Also, the ones you choose shouldn’t be too acidic or contain cleaning chemicals, artificial flavors, artificial colors.

Gentle Dish Soap

Depending on each product, the ingredients are different. You should check them carefully to make sure there are no harmful ones to your cat.


  • Strip oil on the cats effectively
  • For cats that are covered with residue or sticky
  • Effective with just a small amount


  • Not all dish soap brands are usable for cats.

Our recommendation: Dawn Dish Soap Platinum Dishwashing

Castile soap

Washing cats with water carefully after applying castile soap is necessary to ensure no residue can lead to other irritation.


  • Safe and effective to stand-in cat
  • Gentle and naturally hydrating
  • Ideal for cats with dry skin


  • Cats need to be rinsed clearly to remove all residue.

Our recommendation: Dr. Bronner’s – Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

Hand Washing soap

Organic and all-natural ingredients products with benign components are great choices instead of too many artificial ones.


  • Remove oil and sticky feeling
  • Easy to rinse with water


  • Some chemical ingredients can cause irritation
  • Not all products are organic and natural

Our recommendation: Avalon Organics Glycerin Hand Soap


You should massage carefully with a proper amount. Don’t use too much cornstarch for each washing time.


  • Easy to find and use
  • Cost-saving alternatives
  • Use as a dry shampoo


  • Can’t remove sticky or oily residue

Recommend: Any types of cornstarch for cooking

Cornstarch is a good alternative
Cornstarch is a good alternative

Baby Wipes & Pet Wipes

Remember to choose non-scent items that are safe for cats and make them feel better.


  • For small spots cleaning
  • Remove stains that stuck in the coat
  • Water wipe is a great choice


  • Fragrances in wipes can harm a cat’s skin.

Our recommendation: Pampers Sensitive Water-Based Baby Diaper Wipes

Baby Shampoo

The residue of baby shampoo will create a sticky feeling on the cat’s hair and make it easier to get dirty; that’s why you should wash them thoroughly.


  • Safe ingredients and soft formula
  • More neutral pH
  • Moisturize and reduce dry skin


  • Hard to find at home if you don’t have baby

Our recommendation: Earth Mama Calming Lavender Body Wash & Shampoo

Baking Soda

It would be best not to use this method to wash the pet many times as the cat’s skin can be lighter after washing.


  • Good at deodorizing odors
  • Strip dirt away
  • Easy to find at home


  • Avoid using in their faces
  • The skin of your pet can be a bit lighter

Recommend: Any cooking baking soda on the market

Oatmeal Wet Shampoo (Mixed with water and baking soda)

Mixture ingredients: 1 cup of oatmeal, 1/2 cup of baking soda, 4 cups of water.


  • Available at home
  • Sooth the irritated skin
  • Gives cats a comfortable feeling when applying


  • Need to be mixed with baking soda

Recommend: All types of edible oatmeal

Oatmeal Dry Shampoo (Mixed with baking soda, cornstarch, and cornflower)

Recipe for dry shampoo mix: equal oatmeal with cornflower, one teaspoon baking soda, two teaspoon cornstarch.


  • Suitable for emergency bathing
  • Treat cats that hate water


  • Not for removing stubborn dirt

Recommend: Oatmeal from your kitchen

Oatmeal can be used as a dry or wet shampoo.
Oatmeal can be used as a dry or wet shampoo.

Tips on Washing Your Cat 

Trims Their Toenails

Claws are a cat’s self-defense weapon. And when annoyed or feeling attacked, they can scratch anyone, even if you are their owner.

Scratches from cats are very dangerous since they can cause swelling and infection even without bleeding. Please trim their nails for a safer and easier washing time.

Brush Hair Before Washing

Most cat breeds shed all year round, and this coat can get stuck on their body. When you wash your cat, this hair loss interferes with the massage and can clog the water pipes.

Brushing before bathing minimizes tangling and removes loose hair to make your pet more comfortable. It’s advisable to put cotton balls in the cat’s ears to prevent water from getting into them.

Brushing hair before washing is necessary
Brushing hair before washing is necessary.

Suitable Washing Time

As usual, cats don’t really like water, especially when being washed. Their struggle in the bath will be a challenge that makes you tired.

It’s ideal to schedule a bath time for your cat; for example, they have been playing hard after a long day. Your pet will have less energy to struggle and be more obedient when bathing.

Massage Your Cat

Before bathing, you should put a rubber mat or towel in the tub so that the cat can cling and stand. Then when applying soap, gently stroke and massage their body.

Cats always love to be petted. Light scratching of the head, abdomen, etc., can make them more comfortable and relaxed during the bath. Pay attention to your force to avoid massaging too hard, making them more uncomfortable.


Can I Use Human Conditioners On Cats?

As we know, we shouldn’t use human shampoo on cats, and the same goes for human conditioners. All human bathing products have formulas and toxic ingredients to cats, leading to toxicity, irritation, and other long-term consequences.

Can I Use Dog Shampoo For Cats?

Depending on dog breeds, their skin pH varies from 5.5 to 7.5. You may think that is quite similar to the cat’s one, but the shampoo’s formula is different.

They can contain some additives, insecticides that are safe for dogs but cats. It’s similar to using regular shampoo on the cat, which leads to negative and unexpected effects. 

Can I Wash My Cat With Just Water?

It’s acceptable to wash your cat with only water. However, water does not possess much cleansing ability. To solve heavily soiled coats or greasy furs, you may need some kind of detergent.

Final Thought 

Now we’ve revealed the answer to your question about “can you use human shampoo on cats” and its reasons. Hope you find it’s informative to you to avoid making mistakes. 

Along with that are the top nine cat shampoo alternatives that you can consider. These will ensure absolute safety for your pet and protect their health.

Edna Feber

I’m Edna. I'm here to guide you about hair products and maintenance tips. You'll fine here product reviews regarding hair tools, hair color, hair care and more along with tips to keep your hair healthy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts