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Best Flea Shampoos for Cats

Finding the best flea shampoo for your cat can be a daunting prospect. With so many products on the market to choose from, how can you be sure you’re picking the right product? With this in mind, we decided to review several of the most popular flea shampoos around, to see which were the most effective (and kindest) to our kitties.

Finding the best flea shampoo for your cat can be a daunting prospect. With so many products on the market to choose from, how can you be sure you’re picking the right product? With this in mind, we decided to review several of the most popular flea shampoos around, to see which were the most effective (and kindest) to our kitties.

BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

Pro Pet Works Oatmeal

Combines the benefits of an all-natural recipe with swift and effective relief from flea bites, has been approved by pet owners and vets alike.

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BEST FOR FLEA BITE ALLERGIES

Burt’s Bees for Cats

Whether due to a skin condition or a reaction to flea bites, this gentle blend of shea butter and honey can relieve and heal and moisturize irritated skin.

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FOR MINOR FLEA INFESTATIONS

Paws & Pals Flea Scrub

Blend of plant essential oils and moisturizing elements works to target every aspect of flea infestation, killing bugs while effectively comforting cat.

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Pro Pet Works Oatmeal

BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
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What we like:

What we don't like:

  • Doesn’t kill fleas.
  • Though the product was highly effective for most animals, a small number of pets continued to itch after the shampoo was used.

REVIEW

The Pro Pet Works Oatmeal Pet Wash Shampoo and Conditioner is an effective yet gentle shampoo that cat-owners love. Its all-natural ingredient list includes soothing Aloe Vera extracts, almond oil and a cocktail of vitamins to promote healthy, itch-free skin. If your cat has been suffering from flea bites, this is the ideal product to heal those itchy spots.

This shampoo has the considerable bonus of being a 100% natural, non-toxic product, making it suitable even for sensitive kitties. If the hundreds of endorsements from satisfied customers aren’t enough, Pet Pro is also recommended by vets.

Though the Pet Pro shampoo is undoubtedly an excellent treatment for itchy cats, it has one major drawback – it doesn’t actually kill fleas. None of the ingredients used in this formulation have any flea killing or repelling properties, so it won’t effectively de-flea your cat if used alone. Fortunately, this product is suitable for use alongside other flea treatments and is a must-buy to make your pet more comfortable while you tackle the infestation.

2

Burt’s Bees for Cats

BEST FOR FLEA BITE ALLERGIES
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What we like:

What we don't like:

  • Product is thick and gloopy, making it difficult to wash out of fur.
  • Doesn’t kill or repel fleas.

REVIEW

Burt’s Bees are known for harnessing the awesome healing power of honey in their products, and their shampoo for cats is no exception. This non-toxic formula contains 99.8% natural ingredients and is completely hypoallergenic, making it a great choice even for sensitive cats. Their recipe of shea butter and honey intensively hydrates and moisturizes skin, helping to promote healing and provide relief from the itch of flea bites.

As with the Pro Pet shampoo, the Burt’s Bee’s formulation isn’t designed to repel or kill fleas. Therefore, it must be used in combination with other flea control measure if you are battling an infestation. However, alleviating your cat’s discomfort while you employ other, flea-killing strategies is also important. The constant itching and scratching of flea bites can result in broken, infected skin, so treating the irritation can help to make the flea-removal process run as smoothly as possible.

Aside from healing and hydrating your cat’s skin, the Burt’s Bees shampoo for cats can also work wonders on your feline’s fur, leaving it soft, smooth and silky. The product is quite thick, however, and can be difficult to wash out of long fur.

3

Paws & Pals Flea Scrub

FOR MINOR FLEA INFESTATIONS
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What we like:

What we don't like:

  • Doesn’t completely eradicate fleas.
  • Doesn’t lather up as well as other shampoos.
  • Contains clove oil which can cause adverse reactions in some cats.

REVIEW

Unlike our other top-rated products, Paws & Pals Flea and Tick Shampoo-Conditioner Scrub for Dogs & Cats contains ingredients that kill and repel fleas. This gives it an edge over the competitors as, when used in combination with other control methods, it can actively help to clear a flea infestation. Ingredients like cedar oil can effectively combat fleas, while shea butter and Aloe Vera moisturize and soothe your cat’s skin.

This all-natural, non-toxic shampoo has a pleasant scent and can leave your cat’s fur soft and shiny. However, it is not as suitable for sensitive cats as our other top-rated products. This is because of the inclusion of essential oils in the recipe, especially clove. Clove oil only represents a very small percentage of this shampoo’s overall composition and is unlikely to cause an adverse reaction. Nevertheless, this plant extract is known to cause toxicity in some felines and may affect sensitive cats.

Overall, Paws and Pals shampoo is a great tool to have to hand in the war on fleas. Not only does it provide your pet some much-needed relief from the itch of bites, it can also help to reduce the number of fleas in your pet’s coat. When used in combination with other flea control methods, Paws and Pals is an effective way to reduce flea numbers and can even eradicate small infestations completely.

Other products to consider

Pet Diesel Organic Pet Shampoo & Conditioner

Pet Diesel organic flea shampoo contains an herb garden’s worth of botanicals. Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Rosemary, Aloe Vera, Coconut Oil, and Organic Shea Butter are all included to soothe itchy skin and repel fleas. Unfortunately, that potent cocktail of essential oils can prove too much for sensitive animals, causing skin irritation and more itching.

Veterinary Formula Flea and Tick Shampoo

Veterinary Formula Flea and Tick Shampoo formula contains pyrethrum, a natural insecticide that kills fleas on contact. Unfortunately, though the product claims to be suitable for both cats and dogs, this shampoo is entirely too harsh for some cats, causing skin irritation and, in extreme cases, severe toxic reactions.

Adams Flea and Tick Cleansing Shampoo

Adams cat flea shampoo claims to kill fleas at every stage of the life cycle and combines insect growth regulators with kill-on-contact pesticides to achieve this. As with all products containing chemicals, however, it may not be suitable for use on sensitive cats or felines with dry, irritated skin.

Lambert Kay Fresh 'n Clean Flea and Tick Conditioning Shampoo

Lambert Kay Fresh ‘n Clean shampoo contains residual pyrethrins, natural insecticides that stick around to weaken and kill newly hatched fleas while making your cat smell great for up to two weeks. However, if you’d rather only use natural products on your kitty, the chemical content of this shampoo may not be for you.

Zodiac Flea and Tick Shampoo for Dogs and Cats

Zodiac flea shampoo contains pyrethrins to knock fleas down dead, but balances this with moisturizing, fresh-scented coconut extracts. However, this product doesn’t offer any residual effects against fleas.

Advantage Treatment Shampoo for Cats & Dogs

This Advantage flea shampoo for cats kills fleas on contact, which is great if you’re tackling a heavy infestation of the bugs. Unfortunately, it does so with the use of (cat-safe) insecticides. If you’re looking for an all-natural product, look elsewhere!

Espree Flea & Tick Shampoo

Espree flea shampoo contains pyrethrins, insecticidal active ingredients that effectively kill fleas, and is suitable for use even on kittens (over the age of 12 weeks). However, the inclusion of chemicals is a turn-off for some pet owners, especially those with sensitive cats.

About flea shampoo for cats

What is a flea shampoo?

When your cat brings home a flea infestation, often the most reliable way to remove the bugs from their fur is using a flea shampoo. These specially formulated products usually contain an active ingredient that kills and/or repels fleas alongside soothing ingredients to relieve the itch caused by bites.

When used in combination with other control methods, a good flea shampoo can really help to eliminate fleas. Simply use it to wash your cat (following the instructions on the product label when you do so) to kill adult fleas and make your cat more comfortable.

Who should use flea shampoos?

Flea shampoos are typically marketed at pet owners with animals that often go outdoors, like cats and dogs. Every time they go outside, your pet is exposed to all sorts of insects, including fleas. These tiny bugs have an almighty hop that allows them to jump aboard your cat, who then ferries them back to your house.

Flea shampoos are a reliable way to kill a large percentage of the fleas in your cat’s coat and are often used by people battling all levels of flea infestation.

What are the commonly used ingredients in flea shampoos?

There are dozens of different formulations of flea shampoo on the market, so choosing which one to go for can be confusing. Whether you hope to treat your fleas using natural products or plan to launch full chemical warfare on the bugs, the first thing is to know which active ingredients to look out for.

Common natural ingredients in flea shampoos

Natural flea shampoos are a good option if you want to avoid using chemicals on your cat.

Cedarwood oil

Cedarwood oil is a common ingredient in natural, cat-safe flea shampoos. This essential oil kills and repels a category of pests known as the arthropods, a group which includes both fleas and ticks. Flea shampoos containing cedarwood oil are, therefore, among the most likely to effectively de-flea your cat.

Cinnamon oil

Cinnamon oil is another botanical extract often used in flea shampoos designed for cats. Not only does this ingredient often give shampoos a pleasant odor, but products containing cinnamon can also be helpful for repelling fleas from your cat’s coat.

Caution!

Always make sure that any product you use containing essential oils has been approved for use on cats. Some botanicals are highly toxic to cats, so always check and re-check the label thoroughly!

Common insecticidal ingredients in flea shampoos

If you’re dealing with a large, well-established flea infestation, natural remedies often won’t be potent enough to make much of a difference. In these cases, flea shampoos containing insecticides are often the best available option.

Pyrethrins (pyrethrum)

Pyrethrins are a natural insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers. This chemical is a powerful pesticide and can be used to knock down a wide range of insect pests – including fleas! Shampoos containing this active ingredient are usually highly effective for dramatically reducing a flea population, as they kill adult fleas. This not only reduces bites but also breaks the flea life cycle, so fewer eggs are produced.

Pyriproxyfen – IGR

Pyriproxyfen is an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR); a type of insecticide that mimics insect hormones to disrupt their development and growth. Flea shampoos containing pyriproxyfen can, therefore, be used to target young insects and eggs, ensuring that the larvae never reach egg-laying adulthood and the eggs never hatch. Meanwhile, this insecticide has negligible toxicity levels in both humans and cats, so it is totally safe to use at home.

Caution: Always check the label of any new product before using it on your pet to ensure it is cat-friendly. For example, permethrin, a widely used insecticidal ingredient in many flea shampoos, is highly dangerous for cats.

What other products can a flea shampoo replace?

There is a wide range of anti-flea products for cats on the market, so what other remedies can a flea shampoo replace?

Flea comb

Flea combs are fine-toothed combs that you can use to physically remove insects from your cat’s fur. Though this is a good way to monitor your flea situation during treatment, actually attempting to de-flea your cat this way can be labor-intensive, time-consuming and tricky. Even if you do manage to convince your cat to sit still throughout the process, you are unlikely to fin every single bug hiding in their fur.

A flea shampoo can significantly cut the amount of time you dedicate to flea control, while reliably killing larger numbers of fleas.

Spot treatments

Spot treatments are a popular way to treat cats for fleas. These products are often effective for reducing a flea population. However, one major downfall is that the product must stay on your cat’s fur until dry, leaving them sticky and untouchable in the meantime. They also may contain harsher chemicals and insecticides than shampoo and, of course, won’t leave your cat’s fur anywhere near as soft.

Flea sprays

Sprays are quick and easy to apply. Unfortunately, many cats despise them and won’t appreciate the application process. If your cat is the type to get freaked out by spray bottles, it may be easier (and kinder) to opt for a shampoo instead.

Buyer’s guide

How many fleas?

When choosing the right flea shampoo for your cat, the first thing you need to do is work out how bad your infestation is.

If your cat only has one or two fleas hopping through its fur, and you’re confident that the problem is yet to spread to your furnishings, a natural shampoo can be the way to go.

Although less potent than products containing insecticides, shampoos with essential oils such as cedarwood and cinnamon can help to repel and kill fleas.

IgorShubin/Pixabay.com

If your cat is struggling with the itch of flea bites, a natural shampoo can also help to soothe irritated skin. Formulations containing Aloe Vera and almond oil extracts can help to promote skin healing, stopping your cat from scratching while you eradicate the fleas.

Cat-friendly products

There are a great many flea shampoos out there that are totally cat-safe, even for kittens and old cats. However, it is essential that you always read the product label carefully before applying a new shampoo to your cat. Some formulations are unsuitable for cats that are pregnant, nursing, sick, taking certain medications, very old or very young.

Furthermore, some shampoos that are designed for dogs may be entirely unsafe for use on felines.

Never use a product intended for dogs on your cats and consult a veterinarian if you’re unsure about the suitability of your chosen flea shampoo.

Accessories and supporting products

Flea comb

A flea comb is a perfect way to keep tabs on your infestation, both during and after treatment. Simply run the comb through your feline’s fur to remove stray bugs; how many you find in a few minutes will give a good indication of whether or not your control efforts are working.

Oral medication

Combining a flea shampoo with oral medication can be the perfect way to step up your game against fleas. These products typically contain active ingredients such as s-Methoprene (an IGR that targets flea eggs and larvae) and fipronil (an adulticide that takes down adult fleas).

Before you start using any oral medication on your cat, however, it is important to check that the product is compatible with your flea shampoo. Shampoos containing chemical ingredients may be unsuitable for use in combo with oral medication, so do your research before dosing up your cat!

Top tips for effective use

Use a flea comb: A flea comb is the best way to monitor your flea population throughout treatment. Run it through your cat’s fur regularly to remove adult fleas and to keep tabs on their numbers!

Shampoo your cat as regularly as possible: Don’t be shy with the anti-flea treatments! Fleas are a persistent pest and, due to their short reproductive cycle, often require repeat treatments. Use your cat shampoo as often as you can, making sure to follow the directions for use on the product label carefully.

Limit your feline’s time outdoors: If your cat is an outdoor cat, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of time they spend in the garden while you’re battling fleas. The great outdoors is almost certainly where your cat got fleas in the first place, so keeping them indoors will reduce your chance of a repeat infestation.

Living with the product

Once you’ve chosen and purchased the best flea shampoo for your needs, how can you go about using it effectively?

Storage: To properly store your flea shampoo, follow the directions on the product label. Typically, flea shampoos should be kept in a cool, dry place once opened and used within a certain time frame.

Safety: Make sure you’re using your flea shampoo safely; always examine the product label carefully for warnings and tips. Generally, flea shampoos should be kept well away from the eyes and nose, and not used any more frequently or in greater quantities than the directions indicate.

Conclusion

When your cat gets fleas, you need to act immediately to stop the infestation from getting out of hand. Fleas breed frighteningly quickly and can rapidly spread around your home. Unfortunately, fleas are often an unavoidable part of pet-ownership; many people will let their cat out, only to have them come back riddled with bloodsucking bugs.

Flea shampoos are often the easiest and most effective option for treating your cat. Whether you choose a natural product or one containing insecticidal ingredients, these formulations can be of great help in the fight against fleas. For optimal effectiveness, always use flea shampoos in combination with other pest control methods.

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