What shampoos are safe to use on cats?

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The best option in selection a shampoo is to use one recommended by your veterinarian that is specially formulated for cats. Shampoos made for people often contain scents and some can be toxic if used on cats. The fragrances can not only irritate the cat’s skin, they’ll also irritate the cat!

Felines inhabit a world largely defined by scent. Smelling is one of their most powerful senses, so powerful that cats can use a structure in the roof of the mouth called Jacobson’s Organ to “taste” smells. When a cat licks himself after a vigorous petting, he is not really cleaning the fur, but rather replacing his own preferred scent for your human one.

Cats are typically not all that crazy about being bathed in water anyway, but they will particularly object to the procedure if a scented shampoo is used. If bathing is being accomplished as part of routine care, normally to reduce an allergic reaction in a human, shampoo isn’t really necessary. Slightly warm clean water will work just fine.

If, however, the cat is soiled, due to exposure to the elements or as a result of having been ill with gastrointestinal distress, an appropriate pet shampoo is the best option.

Do not use any shampoo that purports to “kill” fleas. Many of these products contain chemicals that are potentially deadly. Any bath will kill living fleas, but the simple act of bathing the animal will not cure the flea infestation, which comes from eggs deposited in bedding and on furniture.

Also, when using shampoo on a cat, never apply the lather to the cat’s head. Never risk irritating and potentially damaging the animal’s sensitive eyes and ears. Use a warm washcloth to gently clean the cat’s head, moving in the direction of the fur and whiskers.

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