The 5 Best Dry Shampoos For Cats (So You Can Skip The Bath)

*So* much easier to use than regular cat shampoo.

Cats and water are like, well, oil and water — more often than not, they just don’t mix well. Luckily, bathing your cat on a regular basis isn’t something that’s actually necessary. But sometimes, it’s unavoidable.

However, that doesn’t mean that water needs to be added to the equation. Dry shampoo for cats exists, and that means you can save both yourself from shredded forearms and your cat from traumatization.

Dr. Sara Ochoa, a small- and exotic-animal veterinarian practicing in East Texas, told The Dodo that she much prefers using dry cat shampoo in comparison to standard wet-and-lather varieties. “Most cats seem to tolerate this much better than giving them a bath,” Dr. Ochoa told The Dodo.

It should be noted that dry shampoo is not a substitute for actual shampoo if your cat gets into something super smelly, sticky or toxic. Nor should dry shampoos be used to treat serious skin conditions or pest infestations. Rather, waterless cat shampoos are best used to freshen up your cat’s coat or mask a potentially unpleasant odor that isn’t caused by a health problem.

Your vet can help you decide if adding a dry shampoo to your cat’s grooming sessions is beneficial. And if you get the go-ahead, then check out these pet-parent-approved waterless cat shampoos.

Benefits of dry shampoo for cats

Other than the obvious fresh scent and soft coat, there are some really great benefits dry shampoo can bring to the table that will make your cat a happier camper.

  • Your cat will be way less stressed out during bath time. The biggest pro to using dry cat shampoo is that your cat will remain calm during bath time. You don’t have to shock her by introducing water into the routine, nor does she have to get wet at all. “Many cats need to be started with baths at an early age to learn to tolerate them,” Dr. Ochoa said about standard bathtime routines, which means mature cats who have never been bathed before will experience a lot more stress if introduced to baths later in life. “This is one reason that I love dry shampoo,” she said. “It’s great for cats of all ages and experience levels.”
  • Bath time is a lot less messy. Because you don’t need to use water when bathing your cat with waterless cat shampoo, there’s no splashing, no shampoo suds flying and no need for multiple towels. In fact, the only thing you’ll need on hand to use dry cat shampoo is a brush and perhaps a hand towel to wipe any excess product from your hands.
  • Dry shampoo won’t strip your cat’s skin of natural oils. When you bathe your cat using shampoo and water, you’re often rinsing away vital oils that keep your cat’s skin moisturized when you rinse off that soapy lather. But when you use a dry shampoo instead, you’re actually adding moisturizing factors back into her skin, helping her prevent any further itching, flaking or discomfort the aftermath of a standard bath with water may cause.

How to find the best dry shampoo for your cat

Before you purchase a dry shampoo for your cat, it’s important to take stock of any skin issues she may be dealing with. Again, if you notice rashy spots, excessive dandruff or pests, then you should take your cat to the vet before trying to tackle it with a remedy at home — these symptoms may be signs of a larger issue.

And cats who are suffering with a persistent odor problem may need more help than anything a standard dry shampoo can offer. Because there’s no lathering and rinsing, you’re not actually cleansing your cat’s skin and fur with a cleaning agent, which may be something your cat ultimately needs. Again, checking in with your vet is the first step you should take if you suspect your cat’s skin isn’t as healthy as it should be.

But if your cat’s healthy inside and out and your vet has given you the OK to use dry shampoo every now and again for general skin and coat maintenance and to freshen up, then there are several formulas out there that tackle a variety of things, like hairballs, allergy symptoms and dry skin.

Best waterless cat shampoos

Based on what pet parents have to say about them, these are the best dry shampoos for cats.

Best overall dry shampoo for cats: Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath

Formulated with soothing ingredients including aloe, oatmeal, vitamin E and neem oil, the Vet’s Best waterless cat bath foam shampoo moisturizes dry skin and nourishes your cat’s coat. It’s safe to use on cats 12 weeks and older and won’t remove topical flea and tick treatments. And because it dispenses as a thick foam, you won’t have a mess on your hands while using it.

Best value dry shampoo for cats: Burt’s Bees Cat Waterless Shampoo Spray

For under $4, you can pick up Burt’s Bees waterless cat shampoo spray made with apple and honey. This cruelty-free formula is made with 99.7 percent all-natural ingredients and is super easy to use. Simply mist your cat from neck to tail (being sure to avoid her eyes and ears), and then brush through her coat. Not only will this dry cat shampoo cleanse her skin and coat, but it will also leave behind a beautiful shine.

Best dry shampoo for kittens: John Paul Pet Oatmeal Waterless Foam Pet Shampoo

Great for kittens and cats with sensitive skin, the John Paul Pet oatmeal waterless shampoo contains moisturizing and calming aloe and oatmeal and conditioning sweet almond oil that nourishes your cat’s skin and coat. This formula will lift dirt from the skin and fur for easy, painless and stress-free removal with a brush.

Best allergen-reducing dry shampoo for cats: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplement LiveClear Rinse Free Allergen Reducing Shampoo for Cats

The LiveClear pH-balanced cat shampoo from Purina Pro Plan is specifically formulated to reduce allergens in both cat hair and dander with every use. It’s a hypoallergenic 99.8 percent natural foam that doesn’t require rinsing, and, when working in tandem with the Purina Pro Plan LiveClear dry food, allergy-causing proteins are stopped in their tracks.

Best hairball-reducing dry shampoo for cats: FURminator Ultra Premium Deshedding Rinse-Free Foaming Shampoo

For cats who suffer from chronic hairballs, try the FURminator waterless cat shampoo that promises to deshed and reduce hairballs. It’s enriched with omega fatty acids and hydrolyzed plant proteins that help control shed. Simply massage it into your cat’s coat and brush through — no rinsing needed.

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