Best Dry Shampoo for Cats Review a Great Alternative to Washing your Cat

Even seasoned vets can’t agree whether cats require baths in light of their instinctual and perpetual grooming habits. So when Dr. Karen Becker approached Enzo--a rescue cat--about the prospect of a nice bath, it resulted in her article, “How to Bathe a Cat and Live to Tell About It.” It was read by nearly 150,000 pet lovers in 2013 alone—-in all likelihood because cat moms and dads get it.

Quick Comparison: Best Dry Shampoo for Cats

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

If you’re one of 86.4 million U.S. cat lovers (According to Humane Society our nation is home to only 78.2 million dogs), you either feel Dr. Becker’s pain or you’ve yet to get up the nerve to give Tuna a bath even though he needs it. What’s a pet parent to do when the cat needs a bath for grooming or therapeutic reasons? Overcome that fear and fill the tub. Or not.

Companies selling dry cat shampoo have paid attention to complaints from cat owners. As a result, today’s dry cat shampoo formulations are far from the medicinal-smelling products once found on pet shop shelves. These days there are many choices and can be found by searching for “waterless cat shampoos”. Rather than dry cat shampoo because the biggest sellers are actually lotions, foams and balms.

Why bathe a cat?

In Dr. Becker’s case, Enzo is a long-hair cat and while short hair breeds can get just as dirty. Today’s popular long-hair breeds tend to suffer more ailments, diseases and conditions that require best dry shampoo for cats choices, even for those who are brushed regularly.

Included on the 360 “top breed” list are these long-hairs: Birmans, Himalayans, Persians and Javanese, but no list would be complete without domestic favorites Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats. Some cat experts say that there are as many as 77 different long-hair cat breeds, but that’s fodder for another review!

Reasons for needing a best dry shampoo for cats:

  • Your cat is covered with an oily or toxic liquid that could make him ill if he tries removing it with his tongue.
  • Your indoor/outdoor cat met up with a skunk during one of her outdoor adventures.
  • ​Do they need a bath because of ticks or fleas?
  • ​Does he/she suffer from a skin infection (flaking and/or sores) contracted from another critter.
  • ​Perhaps your cat is getting old and can’t easily reach all parts of the body to stay well-groomed.
  • ​Maybe kitty has gotten so obese, she has trouble reaching areas of her body that need attention.
  • Much as you adore him, your kitty stinks. Who knows what he’s gotten into?

Are there times when a cat shouldn’t be given a bath?

There are. If your feline has just had surgery or kittens, giving your cat a bath can have serious consequences. Whether you use a product made for water or a dry cat shampoo. Not only can a bath render a topical medicine ineffective but you could expose your cat to infection if an incision isn’t kept dry as it heals.

If your cat has just been neutered or spayed, avoid any type of bath—wet or dry—-for 10 to 14 days. Even a well-meaning cat parent could subject a vulnerable, post-surgical cat to infection or discomfort, and for queens (that’s a cat mom in case you’ve never heard the term), giving the mother a bath right after she gives birth could literally compromise the familiar “smell” kittens search for when they’re nursing. Better a smelly cat than a sick cat, after all.

How to give your cat a bath using the best dry shampoo for cats

Leave it to WebMD to come up with the the best cat bathing tips on the planet for those who plan to try waterless cat grooming products. It’s worth your time and effort to read them. Especially if your cat is skittish and her claws have neither been removed nor trimmed. By the way, prep time for a waterless bath is nothing compared to the elaborate ritual one must undertake to bathe a cat in a tub or sink:

  • Pick the time of day your cat seems most mellow.
  • If you have a wild child, exhaust her with a toy so there’s less adrenaline coursing through her body.
  • ​Brush the cat briskly but slowly to dislodge mats, dander and anything that clings to the cat’s coat.
  • ​Place the cat on a covered surface like a kitchen counter that allows you maximum control.
  • ​Follow the directions printed on the dry cat shampoo label.
  • Always reward good behavior with treats once the process has concluded!

6 reasons Dry cat shampoo beats Wet cat shampoo!

  • Cats don’t take kindly to water so if you can avoid using it, you’ll have a less stressful experience.
  • You don’t have to stuff cotton balls into your cat’s ears to keep them dry as you do when using water.
  • ​You avoid potential trauma that can result when water that feels temperate to you is either too hot or cold.
  • ​Even if they stay still for being soaped up, the rinse phase is often enough to dry felines crazy.
  • ​There’s no slipping, sliding or wiggling because cat bathers (that’s you) maintain a solid grip on your pet.
  • Cat parents don’t have to strip down or change into a rain slicker to survive the wet bath experience.

Dry cat shampoo Product reviews that are the cat’s meow!

In the interest of transparency, all five best dry shampoo for cats formulas we’ve chosen for our list have been recommended by veterinarians to level the playing field. Some are truly dry; others are lotions. None require using water which cats prefer to see only in their water bowls.

Quick Comparison: Best Dry Shampoo for Cats

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Pro Pet Works Hypoallergenic Organic Oatmeal and Aloe Cat/Dog Shampoo Plus Conditioner

Pro Pet Works Hypoallergenic Cat Shampoo oatmeal- and aloe-based product is recommended for all pets. 

dry cat shampoo

​In addition to cleansing benefits, this product is formulated with ingredients that soothe flea bites and itch-related problems. It's well tolerated by cats with allergies, kittens and cats with skin sensitivities.

​The smell? Cherries and almonds--but it’s the lack of chemicals, sulfates, artificial colors, parabens and alcohol that win over cat lovers when they choose this dry cat shampoo over other brands.

​The aloe is as therapeutic on felines as it is on human skin and Vitamins have been thrown into the formula for good measure.

​For pet parents who crave environmentally-friendly goods, this shampoo is 100-percent biodegradable and the packaging is made of recycled materials. 

PRO'S

  • Professional grade and all-natural, this formula is applied right from the bottle without diluting.
  • Non-grooming felines clean up fast using this dry cat shampoo with a follow-up toweling, as recommended by groomers.
  • Leaves cat fur soft and silky, soothes itchy skin and has a pleasing fragrance.

CON'S

  • Some cat owners say this shampoo works better on dogs than cats and have returned it.
  • Performs less efficiently than the best dry shampoo for cats brands that cost less money.
  • Some cat groomers recommend a finishing shower to help this product to do its job.

Vet's Best No-Rinse Clean Waterless Cat Shampoo

This best dry shampoo for cats pick is a bit on the pricey side, but natural ingredients will win over cat lovers.

The 4-ounce bottle is small in quantity, so while you could use up an entire bottle on a short-haired Tabby, you might need two for your Maine Coon.

Vet's Best Waterless Cat Bath

​This foam is tolerated nicely by cats and owners remark that their pet’s skin and coat are left dry and moisturized, and itching issues are history.

​This Vet’s Best dry shampoo for cats has an impressive list of active ingredients, including aloe vera, vitamin E, oatmeal and neem oil.

​Cats enlisted by the brand’s “test division” enjoyed the relaxing and calming fragrance remaining on their fur post bath.

​When compared to competitive products, “control cats” were said to be calmer after a Vet's Best bath.

​For felines who prefer meeting dogs over over water baths, this formulation saves time, too: “Massage, Brush, Done!”

Some owners insist their cats began looking forward to baths after being cleaned with this best dry shampoo for cats brand.

PRO'S

  • Turn a nightmare into an effortless ritual that’s fast and efficient using this dry cat shampoo.
  • All-natural ingredients won’t upset your cat and the formulation doesn’t interfere with topical flea medicines.
  • Essential oils calm cats and make them easier to handle during the bathing process.

CON'S

  • The 4 oz container is a bit pricey.
  • Can’t be used on cats younger than 12 weeks for reasons not given by the manufacturer.
  • The active ingredient, Neem Oil, can trigger reactions. Pregnant women, diabetics and kids are advised to avoid using this product.

Calily Life Organic Oatmeal Dog and Cat Shampoo + Conditioner

Named a #1 Best dry shampoo for cats by numerous websites rating animal grooming agents, Calily Life Organic Oatmeal bills itself as both shampoo and groomer, citing Shea butter and aloe vera as two main agents

Talk about exotic! Minerals harvested from the Dead Sea Valley are active ingredients.

​This effective, soothing formula gets kitty clean and soft. The bottle size is generous at 32-ounces.

​Ingredients are comparable to competitors with the exception of those Dead Sea minerals, so perhaps there’s a bit of therapeutic magic in that cute bottle.

dry shampoo for cats

​Loyal brand patrons like the fact that this product deodorizes, moisturizes and conditions, yet ingredients don’t impact a cat’s natural oils.

​This formula is said to promote a healthy balance between shedding periods that may leave a cat’s skin vulnerable.

​There are no artificial dyes, parabens, phthalates or harmful agents, which is how this brand became a favorite of pet parents whose cats have sensitive skin and/or allergies.

PRO'S

  • This top selling best dry shampoo for cats is wildly popular with shoppers who have tried other brands.
  • Non-toxic ingredients are safe and no other cat shampoo relies upon Dead Sea minerals as an active ingredient.
  • More value for your dollar, especially if you're a multi-cat family.

CON'S

  • Availability seems problematic, so you may have to stock up on this dry cat shampoo when you find a source.
  • If you only want to wash but not condition your cat, you might not need this 2-in-1 product.
  • Not every user has complimentary things to say about the smell--even those who consider it among the best dry shampoo's for cats on the market.

New Vet Recommended Apple Extract Waterless Cat Shampoo

Cats and fruit? Strange combination--unless your kitty loves to chase grapes around a table with his paw. This apple extract-based best dry shampoo for cats makes promises about cleaning, moisturizing and keeping cat dander at bay without a single drop of water.

dry shampoo forcats

Sold in 8-ounce bottles, New Vet Waterless is so easy to use, a child can do it: Spray and massage. Done and done. Detergent- and alcohol-free, it’s been called “the sneaky way to wash and massage your cat that’s so subtle, she won’t notice that she’s being bathed.”

If the idea of a spray-on that eliminates the need for water appeals to you, this New Vet Apple Extract formulation is particularly effective during cooler months when cats who like to take baths rebel.

This best dry shampoo for cats candidate plays nicely with products you or your vet apply to keep fleas and ticks at bay, and cat parents who have relied on cat dander wipes to groom feline allergy sufferers no longer buy them because this particular best dry shampoo for cats can replace those wipes.

For finicky cats—-including older ones—-this could be your best bang for buck!

PRO'S

  • Eco-friendly, safe and packaged in containers made of recycled materials, New Vet Dry Cat Shampoo takes care to mention that it never tests on animals.
  • This foam product is a life saver for pet parents whose cats stopped grooming due to age or illness.
  • Leaves fur shiny, smooth and smelling sweet, yet the fragrance isn’t overpowering.

CON'S

  • At 8-ounces, this is fine for short hairs but if you live with Himalayans, you may want to buy in bulk.
  • If the distinct apple fragrance bothers you (or your cat), this particular dry cat shampoo could be a deal-breaker.

Burt's Bees for Cats Waterless Spray Shampoo

​Surprised to see this brand name associated with dry cat shampoo? Shoppers are used to seeing the Burt’s Bees logo on grooming and therapeutic products for humans.

waterless cat shampoo

In fact, while this best dry shampoo for cats is being marketed as a Burt’s Bees product, it’s made by Fetch4Pets, a small company that sells these 10-ounce bottles of waterless spray shampoo. This product excels at “spot cleaning” if you prefer not to bath the entire cat.

Instructions recommend spraying the back of the ears and then “pulling” the product back to the tail using your hands. If your cat is regularly treated for fleas and ticks, Burt’s Bees waterless spray shampoo won’t interfere with the efficacy of those treatments and if you want to cover more than just that ear-to-tail swipe, no problem.

Read the ingredients on the label of this dry cat shampoo and you might think your cat is being bathed in tropical fruit salad given the “99-percent natural” composition of ingredients listed on the label. Take note of the other 1-percent of ingredients before you buy if you’re a purist.

PRO'S

  • Fans of Burt’s Bees grooming aids buy this dry cat shampoo on the company’s reputation alone.
  • Availability is terrific; you’ll have too many choices of retailers and vendors if you’re a comparison shopper.
  • Leaves kitties looking clean, neat and sweet-smelling.

CON'S

  • Some pet parents say that their cats reacted to the shampoo spray mechanism and recommend spraying the product onto a cloth before application.
  • When comparisons between spray and foam delivery systems are made, foam is preferred by big numbers.
  • This product may not work for incontinent cats; it won’t get rid of urine odors.

Your Best Bet

Normally, we wouldn't put a hard-to-find product at the top of our best dry shampoo for cats list, but since we promised you the best, we believe that the Calily Life Organic Oatmeal Dog and Cat Shampoo + Conditioner should be your first choice.

Natural ingredients are comparable to the other four shampoos, but the generous size of the bottle at 32-ounces makes it more affordable. Feedback from respected websites evaluating dry cat shampoos is impressive: this brand winds up at or near the top of most of them.

We have a hunch that the addition of Dead Sea minerals to this formulation may be the secret ingredient that wins over cat parents who have tried competitive brands and found them wanting.

That stated, if you believe that it’s worth the wait and the search that could be required to find this superior product, Calily Life Organic Oatmeal Dog and Cat Shampoo + Conditioner comes with our highest recommendation.








Image credits: Amazon.com
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