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Can I Use Dog Shampoo on My Cat?

cat getting shampooed
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Q. Is there any reason I can’t use dog shampoo on my cat?

A. From a medical perspective, cats are different from dogs, including the way they react to grooming products — especially those formulated for parasite control. If you use a dog shampoo that contains ingredients for combating fleas, you may put your cat at risk.

Permethrin is a common ingredient in dog flea shampoos that is dangerous for cats. However, this is true even of natural ingredients meant to repel fleas or reduce dog dandruff, so ask your veterinarian to recommend a feline-friendly flea or dandruff shampoo.

In general, you should consult your vet before using any dog product on your cat to ensure that the ingredients are safe for cats. Many pet shampoos are formulated specifically for cats or are safe to use on both dogs and cats. Make sure a label says that it is safe for cats before using the product to bathe your feline friend.

Q. Do I need to bathe my cat?

Since most felines groom themselves, many readers may wonder why someone should bathe a cat at all. I can think of a couple of reasons it’s a good idea to get your cat used to water:

They get into something they shouldn’t. You may sometimes need to wash off something your cat got into, which you don’t want him to ingest when he licks his coat.

Reducing allergies. Shampooing and rinsing also reduces the sneezing, wheezing, and itchy eyes associated with allergies to cats. Even, just rinsing a cat weekly reduces the dander that triggers allergy attacks. (This method is not effective for individuals with life-threatening allergies, who should consult a physician for advice on dealing with severe reactions.)

Help cats with grooming challenges. Some senior cats or cats suffering from certain medical conditions may have mobility issues that can impact their ability to groom. If this is the case, bathing a cat may be necessary.

Q. How can I get my cat comfortable with bathing?

You may have a difficult time convincing an adult cat to tolerate bathing, and scheduling professional grooming appointments may be your best option. However, it’s easier to help kittens get acclimated to bath time. If you proceed gently, with praise and treats, you’re more likely to end up with a cat who puts up with regular rinsing.

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