The best waterless cat shampoo
It's no secret that cats hate water, but how do you keep your feline friend clean without forcing them to take a bath? Waterless cat shampoo is the ideal solution. Simply spray it on or rub it in, let it dry (if necessary), and brush it out -- no soaking or rinsing necessary.
Our buying guide gives you all the vital information about waterless cat shampoo. Our top choice is Vet's Best Waterless Cat Bath, a foam-based dry shampoo that's effective and easy to use.
Considerations when choosing waterless cat shampoos
Waterless shampoo type
Waterless cat shampoo is usually a foam, a liquid spray, or a dry powder. Consider which works best for you and your cat.
Spray type products must be spritzed all over your cat, so if they're really averse to water, this might not be the best option. It is, however, quick and easy to get decent coverage with a shampoo spray.
Foams are usually liquid in the bottle but turn into foam upon being pumped out. They're slightly harder to apply than sprays, since you need to rub the foam in rather than just spritzing it. Foam feels less wet on your cat's coat and skin than sprays do.
Powder shampoos are the best option if your cat freaks out at even a slightly wet sensation on their skin. They're generally quite easy to sprinkle all over your cat and are especially beneficial for greasy coats. These powders tend to be white and may linger in the coat even after brushing out, which is extremely obvious on cats with dark fur.
You can assume that the ingredients in a cat shampoo are safe for cats, but it's always best to check the ingredients closely before buying so you know what you're getting. Many waterless cat shampoos contain all-natural or mostly natural ingredients. We recommend avoiding products with long lists of synthetic ingredients, as they're more likely to be harsh on your cat's skin.
We can assume you're a cat owner and animal lover, so you may want to avoid products that have been tested on animals or contain animal-derived ingredients. You could go even further and choose a dry cat shampoo that uses only fair trade ingredients.
Waterless cat shampoos often contain essential oils for fragrance. They're better than synthetic fragrances but there still shouldn't be huge amounts of them in any dry cat shampoo since your feline friend is unlikely to appreciate having a strongly scented coat.
Ingredients such as aloe vera, coconut oil, and other oils have moisturizing properties and are beneficial for your cat's coat and skin.
Depending on the size of the bottle and the quality of the product, you can expect to pay between $5 and $15 per bottle of waterless cat shampoo.
Q. Can a waterless cat shampoo remove mud and stains?
A. Waterless shampoo isn't designed for true cleaning, it's more for freshening your cat, moisturizing the coat and skin, and getting rid of unpleasant odors. Cats are generally adept at cleaning themselves when they get dirty, but if your cat comes home covered in mud or other nasty substances, you need to bathe them the old-fashioned way.
Q. Are waterless cat shampoos safe for dogs or small animals?
A. Some waterless cat shampoos are also safe for use on dogs and/or small pets, such as rabbits or chinchillas. However, always double-check before use as some products might contain ingredients that are safe for cats but unsafe for other animals.
Waterless cat shampoos we recommend
Best of the best: Vet's Best Waterless Cat Bath
Our take: You'll be pleased with how soft your cat's fur feels after an application of this waterless shampoo.
What we like: Aloe vera, neem oil, and vitamin E oil are all highly moisturizing for a soft coat and hydrated skin. Doesn't affect topical flea treatments. All-natural ingredients.
What we dislike: Fairly small bottle for the price.
Best bang for your buck: Burt's Bees Waterless Shampoo for Cats
Our take: We love that this product is properly pH-balanced for cats' skin, plus it's reasonably priced.
What we like: Made with 99.8% natural ingredients. Added honey makes fur soft and shiny. Sulfate-free. Simply spray on, massage in, and towel dry.
What we dislike: Can be harmful if it gets in your cat's eyes (or yours), so exercise caution.
Our take: Despite the brand name Bodhi Dog, this waterless shampoo is suitable for cats as well as dogs.
What we like: Made from eco-friendly, plant-based ingredients. Not tested on animals. Pleasant lavender scent. Sulfate- and paraben-free.
What we dislike: On the pricier side.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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