KITTENS

DIY Cat Shampoo: Cleaner Cats Using Homemade Products

A black cat in a green towel after taking a bath
Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

Cats spend hours and hours every day grooming themselves to stay clean. Unfortunately, sometimes they get an oily or sticky substance in their coat, and they need their human’s assistance to get it off. There are many cat shampoo products available on the market. However, not only are they expensive, but they also can cause harm to your cat’s fur. To avoid using chemicals that can cause damage to a cat’s natural oil production in the skin, use a DIY cat shampoo.

There are so many aspects to look into when you are thinking about your cat’s cleanliness. The product you use to bathe them should be strong enough to clean your cat’s body well, but at the same time, it should not be so strong that it drains all the oil from your cat’s fur—prompting dry, flaky skin and frizzy hair.

Homemade or DIY cat shampoos are the perfect solution because they are made using natural ingredients and are chemical free so as to provide your cat with the exact pH level needed to support hair that’s clean and soft to the touch. Best of all, DIY cat shampoo is inexpensive.

A black cat with shampoon on her

Your cat’s well-being is important—not only for you but for us as well. Keeping in view all of the aforementioned factors, we’ve come up with some easy-to-follow recipes and formulas on how to make shampoos for cats at home. We have done all the research for you and have listed up many methods. Your cat will be super neat, squeaky clean, and will smell as sweet as roses straight out of the bath.

Types of Cat Shampoo

Depending on the type of hair your cat has, you can either use dry shampoo or a wet shampoo. For short-haired cats, dry shampoo is preferred. On the other hand, it is good to bathe your long-haired cat with a wet shampoo, since it can easily go deep to reach the cat’s skin and clean it thoroughly.

Howlistic Life Wildwash and a cat

Which type of shampoo suits your cat better depends on your cat’s behavior as well. Cats hate water. As a result, bathing them sometimes becomes a major problem. Some cats are easier to control during a bath while others go all savage on their loving owner. If it is impossible to give your cat a bath with water without getting torn to ribbons, try using the dry shampoo. Your cat should be less opposed to it.

DIY Dry Shampoo for Cats

With dry shampoo, you will not be using any water, so it is important to make a shampoo using ingredients that are able to thoroughly clean your cat’s fur on their own. A star ingredient that can drain the smell, the dust, and the dirt out of your cat’s hair naturally without the use of water is oatmeal.

Ingredients

To make DIY dry cat shampoo from oatmeal, you need following ingredients:

  • Oatmeal

  • Baking sheet

  • Baking soda

  • Cornstarch

Preparing the Shampoo

Here’s a step by step guide on how to make a DIY dry shampoo for cats that would be the perfect solution for short-haired cats that go on a rampage every time they realize it’s bath time:

  • Pour the required quantity of oatmeal on a baking sheet.

  • Bake until it is warm. Usually about 5 minutes.

  • Add a little amount of warm water in the oatmeal mixture to make a paste. It helps to relieve dry and itchy skin.

  • Sprinkle a little bit of baking soda in the oatmeal. This will act as the smell-repellent.

  • Add cornstarch to the oatmeal mix to give your cat’s coat that much-desired shine.

Applying the Shampoo

Really simple to make, isn’t it? Now all you have to do is apply the dry shampoo to your cat for a hassle-free bath.

  • Using a towel, massage the dry shampoo into the cat’s fur and skin.

  • Employ another second person to help you hold the cat.

  • Once you have applied the mixture to your cat’s body, leave it there for at least five minutes.

  • Don’t let the cat loose while the shampoo is applied. The paste will keep falling on the floor and create a mess. Having a pet cage here will come in handy for you.

  • Keep the cat in the cage until the shampoo has set.

  • After five minutes, brush your cat’s fur to remove the remaining oatmeal.

  • Once the cat’s coat is free of the dry shampoo, you can let them loose in the house.

  • If there is any oatmeal left in the cat’s fur, it will not cause any harm. Your cat will groom himself later on.

DIY Wet Shampoo for Cats

Water is indeed the best compound to clean anything—be it your own body or your cat’s fur. It is difficult to keep your cat calm once he sees water, but if you can keep the situation under control, your cat will be cleaner and fresher than ever. He will also have a smoother and silkier coat by the end of the day.

Ingredients

If your feline isn’t all that opposed to a wet bath and you are often able to walk out of such baths injury-free, here are the ingredients you need to make a DIY wet cat shampoo:

  • Natural dish soap

  • Vinegar or apple cider

You need to be careful about the dish soap you use here. Pick a dish soap that does not contains surfactants like sodium laureth sulfate. This is the compound commonly found in soap, dyes, and phthalates (i.e., fragrance chemicals).

Two natural bottles and dish soaps on a table

It makes the soap foamy, which is not exactly a bad thing for humans, but it can cause hormonal issues in cats. Also beware of triclosan, which is an antibacterial agent but also toxic for cats.

If it is hard for you to remember this stuff while looking for a natural dish soap to use, you can also make your own dish soap at home. Following are the ingredients you need to make your own dish soap:

  • One ¾ cups of water

  • ¼ cup of grated Castile bar soap

  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap

  • Two tsp super washing soda

  • One tsp vegetable glycerin

Preparing the Dish Soap

This dish soap is not only useful for the making of a DIY wet cat shampoo, but you can also use it to wash the dishes at home for a cleaner, healthier, and more affordable option. Here’s how you make it:

  • Mix water and grated bar soap. Put it on a stove and bring it to boil until the bar soap is completely mixed in.

  • Mix liquid castile soap, washing soda, and vegetable glycerin in a separate container.

  • When the bar soap and water have completely blended together, add the mixture to the remaining ingredients and mix them well.

  • Do not add any essential oils to the mixture. They can be harmful to your cat.

Preparing the Shampoo

After you have purchased a natural dish wash soap or prepared one at home using the recipe above, you can now start making the shampoo for your cat.

Ustensils used to make DIY cat shampoons

Here’s how you do it:

  • Mix a cup of apple cider vinegar with a cup of dish soap.

  • Add 1/3 of a cup of glycerin into the mixture.

  • Add a quart of filtered water to the mixture.

With this, the shampoo for your cat is ready. You can store it in a bottle for further use.

Applying the Shampoo

You know your cat best, and you should have already developed a method for how to bathe him effectively if you have done it a few times before.

A man applying shampoon on a cats coat

But just in case this is your first time, here are some tips on how to do it safely without putting your life on the line:

  • Have another person by your side to hold the cat.

  • Use your hands or a soft cloth to massage the shampoo slowly into the cat’s hair and all over their body.

  • Lather the shampoo in circular motions and completely cover the cat’s body with the shampoo.

  • Make sure to keep the shampoo out of the cat’s eyes. It won’t be painful, but it will be uncomfortable.

  • At this point, your cat may already be upset. Don’t let him escape. Hold him firmly and start rinsing off the shampoo slowly.

  • Rinse the shampoo well. If you leave any on the cat’s skin, it can cause skin irritation.

It is recommended that you bathe cats in the kitchen sink rather than a bathtub since it is easier to hold the cat in. Pour water over your cat using a small cup instead of directing the showerhead at them since the latter will startle and scare your cat.

Drying the Cat

You shouldn’t let the cat loose to dry on their own right after a bath since they could catch a cold. Instead, pat your cat dry using a towel.

Cute black soggy cat after a bath

If you have a hairdryer with medium to low heat setting, you can also use it. But make sure it is not very hot, or it will burn your cat’s skin.

Extra Tips on Giving Your Cat a Wet Bath

Cats keep themselves clean. You don’t need to bathe them often since it can dry their skin and can cause skin allergies. Either way, there are some important points that you need to keep in mind while giving your cat a wet bath.

  • Bath time is very stressful for most cats. While you are bathing them, use comforting words to soothe them.

  • Avoid holding the cat in places where they can easily bite or scratch you. Hold the cat firmly by their scruff. By doing so, you will be in control, and the cat will not be able to bite or scratch you easily. But make sure not to hold on so tightly that you end up hurting them.

  • Be careful of the water temperature. Since a cat’s body temperature is higher than a human’s, they should never be bathed in cold water, even if it is summer. Use lukewarm water in summers and warm to hot water in winters. Before you use the water, pour a little bit on your arm or leg. If it is bearable for you, it will be okay for your cat too.

  • Reward your cat with their favorite meal after the bath. They deserve it.

  • In case you have been bitten or scratched during the bath, apply antiseptic ASAP.

Wrap Up

Adding my own experience here, I have a three-year-old male cat. I don’t have anyone to help me out with his baths, so I do it all alone. I put a pre-prepared bottle of DIY wet cat shampoo on the bathroom floor; then I make him sit on top of the toilet seat with its lid closed. Like most cats, he is also scared of the water and baths, so he starts meowing as soon as I close the bathroom door.

To keep him calm, I start rubbing his back and talk gently to him. When he stops meowing, I fill a small cup with water and make him drink a little from it. This is to show him that the water is perfectly safe and that there is nothing to be scared of. Once he has calmed down a bit, I wet his front paws first.

Orange cat taking a bath

After wetting his paws, I move on to the rest of his body. When he is all wet, I quickly apply the shampoo. He does not like it when I apply shampoo to his stomach and tail—that’s when he usually tries to bite me, but he couldn’t because I hold him by the scruff of his neck the whole time. I keep telling him that he is a good boy and that we are almost done with the bath.

After washing off all the shampoo from his body, I pat dry him using a towel. At this point, he will usually start hissing. I’m pretty sure that if I let him have his way, he will tear me up. One trick I always use to anticipate that is by keeping his front paws wrapped tightly in the folds of the towel. The towel will act as a buffer. I use one hand to keep both of his front paws in place and the other to towel him dry.

These cats feel that their trust has been violated after given them a bath.

I let him loose after that, and he starts grooming himself. He deserves a reward for being so brave, so I always get him something special for his lunch.

Do you usually bathe your cat with dry or wet shampoo? How does the experience usually go for you? If you have a special DIY cat shampoo you usually make for your cat, please let us learn from you by sharing the recipe in the comments section below.

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.

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