There are more than 180,000 calls from pet owners whose dogs or cats ingested something toxic as it is estimated in the year of 2016; the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center has ever received it! And that’s just one national hotline – that doesn’t factor in the countless pet poisoning cases handled by local veterinarians.

Cats don’t usually need a bath, nor do they ever want one! Sometimes though, your cat may get very dirty or too close to something it shouldn’t, such as toxic sprays and needs to be washed.

We all know cats hate being put into soapy water and washed down, but sometimes there’s no way around it.

And sometimes the shampoos (especially human shampoos) can be problematic for cats if it isn’t properly washed from their fur, but the question is what makes shampoos a problem for cats?

We’re going to discuss what you can do if your cat licks shampoo or its residue and what are the side-effects on their skin? It is important to beware of the side-effects and be prepared.

What If My Cat Eats Shampoo

Is shampoo Really Toxic For Cats?

Is shampoo Really Toxic For Cats?

1. About Human Shampoo

Even if you’re feeling lazy, don’t ever use human shampoo to wash your cat’s coat.

Although people’s shampoo is not always toxic, it is formulated specifically for humans; not cats.

Cat skin doesn’t have the same pH balance, and as a result, human shampoo can be very aggressive and drying on them. This could lead to flakes and painful irritation for your pet.

Plain shampoo in a very small amount should not cause much harm. But if it does I do advise you to :

  • Observe your cat and if there are any changes in his well being/behavior etc, please seek veterinary assistance immediately.
  • Check the ingredients for camphor and coal tar, which are both poisonous to cats.

Sometimes shampoos are not that seriously toxic meaning it can result in illness but it is not usually fatal. However the ingredients I have mentioned can cause serious problems so look out for that.

Because of this it’s always important to completely rinse it out.  If necessary, rinse your cat again just to be on the safe side. 

2. Why Should We Avoid Human Shampoos For Cats?

There are a few reasons you’d want to avoid human shampoos on pets and the  reason is humans have a very different skin composition than pets do.

For example, humans have a much more acidic skin than animals do, meaning that using shampoos doesn’t make sense to them.

That being said, humans sweat from various places in their bodies while cats only sweat from their paws. This means that moisture is dispersed differently.

When you combine these two facts you’ll realize that human shampoo would easily burn and/or dry out your cat’s skin and fur, which can potentially cause long term problems such as a cat who rips out their own hair.

Long Term skin problems have been linked to a lower immune defense because it’s easier for bacteria to cause infections due to the open pores/skin. It is very important to allow our cats to clean themselves regularly.

In circumstances where we have to bathe them, it is important to make sure that the products we use are as close to the pH of the cat’s saliva and that the product has all natural ingredients that aren’t considered toxic towards cats.

On That Note:

all-natural doesn’t mean all good. Cats are toxic to a number of ingredients that aren’t harmful to dogs or humans, which is why you need to be extra safe when using products that aren’t marketed or branded towards cats.

If you are ever concerned if your cat is also allergic to an ingredient you can check the ASPCA to make sure it is not toxic.

3. How Can A Cat Become Poisoned By Shampoo?

Cats can be poisoned in a number of ways:

  • Directly ingesting a toxic substance either by eating it or by eating poisoned prey.
  • Swallowing poisons while grooming contaminated fur.
  • Absorbing some toxins through the skin (particularly the paws)
  • Inhaling the poison.

What Happens If My Cat Eat Shampoo?

What Happens If My Cat Eat Shampoo

Though this is true, it is still highly recommended that you do not use human shampoo products on your cat, even if it’s a “one time use” as your cat may digest some of the shampoo while trying to clean themselves later (which can lead to toxicity.) 

As mentioned, since the majority of shampoos have never been tested on cats symptoms may vary from brand to brand.

Although this is true you can still check for signs of redness or irritation, loss of hair, scratching or discomfort for skin .

The clinical signs are very variable and will depend on the particular poison concerned.

But some of the most common signs are:

  • gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and diarrhea)
  • neurological signs (tremors, in-coordination, seizures, excitability, depression)
  • respiratory signs (coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing)
  • skin signs (inflammation, swelling)
  • liver failure (jaundice)
  • kidney failure (increased drinking, improper eating and weight loss).

Some toxins act on more than one body system, and so can produce any combination of the above signs.

It is important to remember that while most cases of intoxication will cause acute problems, chronic intoxication can also arise, and often proves even more difficult to recognize and treat.

Make sure you contact the vet immediately and discuss whether a visit is recommended. Signs of toxicity can vary depending on what your pet has ingested.

In some cases, a potentially poisoned pet might not seem sick at all. Some reactions can take longer to occur than others, and a bigger pet might not have consumed enough of a substance to actually get sick from it.

As for skin conditions, it is important that you take your cat to the vet to help clarify what is causing the skin condition.

That being said if skin irritation/a condition is caused by a human shampoo stop using the shampoo immediately and it should clear up quickly.

So keep your eyes for other signs for something gone wrong. If you come across a container that’s open or spilled, or find an empty wrapper or torn-open packaging, think about whether your pet could have gotten into the item.

If there’s even a chance that the answer could be yes, you should assume that she could be at risk for being poisoned.

What You Can Do If Your Cat Ate Shampoo?

What You Can Do If Your Cat Ate Shampoo

Initial steps you must do in this serious situation ASAP:

  • Put your pet in a safe space. Get him away from the toxin so he can’t ingest any more of it. (You can deal with cleanup later.) If you have any other animals, secure them in a separate space so they can’t come in contact with the poisonous substance or with your pet.
  • Call the vet ASAP. Even if your pet is acting perfectly normal. If it’s after-hours and your vet isn’t open, call the nearest 24-hour veterinary hospital or the ASPCA’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
  • Never try to induce vomiting without your vet’s okay. Do not try to make the cat vomit. It may cause more harm with damage to the esophagus and the risk of aspirating (inhaling) unless you are instructed to do so by your vet. Immediately seek veterinary attention.
  • Try to keep your pet away from grooming themselves. If the poison is on the coat or paws, try to prevent the cat from grooming itself further. Especially if you think the substance might’ve gotten on his fur or paws. You may need to bathe your pet to wash the contaminant off, but check with your vet first. Washing could cause some chemicals (like those used in flea collars) to be reabsorbed into your pet’s skin
  • In the case of skin contact, flush the skin for at least 30 minutes with running water. In the case of eye contact, flush the eye with sterile saline or water for 20 minutes. Seek veterinary attention while you are performing the decontamination.

Cat Bathing: This Is How It Should Be Done

  • Use a large plastic bucket or a bath lined with a non-slip floor mat. Fill the tub with just enough warm water to wash your cat
  • If cats find bathing frightening, they may hiss or bite. Cat bites are notorious for causing infections, so seek medical advice if you are bitten.
  • Give your cat plenty of praise and reassurance. Food treats make a useful distraction.
  • Apply a small amount of shampoo and lather up, right down to the tail, not forgetting the underside and neck. It helps to take your cat out the water and onto a towel while you do this. Be careful not to get any shampoo in your cat’s eyes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm, clean water, avoiding the eyes and inner ears.
  • After soaping and rinsing, your cat will want to vigorously shake off the excess water.
  • Rub your cat from head to toe with a towel and remove from the tub.
  • If you have more than one cat, this may be the time when conflict breaks out. Separate your bathed cats until they are calm, then rub all cats with the same towel to distribute the scents.
  • Dry your cat in a warm room and don’t let her go outside until she is completely dry.

Frequency Of Bathing Schedule For Cats?

It’s no secret that most cats absolutely do not water and bathe. In fact, your usually gentle cat may even hiss at you as you attempt to bathe them!

Since cats can generally handle their own cleanliness routines just fine, keep actual baths at a minimum.

If you have a short-haired cat, do not bathe her more than once every six weeks. If your cat has longer hair which gets dirty a lot easier, you may need to bathe her a little more often.

Bonus Tip: ‘Aloe’ Isn’t Friendly To Your Cat Actually..

Aloe isn’t so pet-friendly. Cats who consume aloe can suffer from a wide range of medical problems including “vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, and changes in urine color,” according to the ASPCA Poison Control Center. 

So why is aloe in so many cat shampoos?

Particularly when manufacturers know that soaps and shampoos have a tendency to leave residue on the fur and skin of cats, and that cats are exposed to this residue every time they groom themselves following a bath?

The simple answer is that aloe serves as a skin moisturizer and adds suppleness and sheen to fur. Many contained other ingredients known to be poisonous to cats, such as avocado, chamomile, and palm oil. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is baby shampoo safe for cats?

Baby shampoo is not highly toxic but can cause an upset stomach in cats that’s why it’s not a good idea to use it, but the best is to rinse your cat again using warm to tepid water to be sure is all rinsed out and keep the cat warm,also encourage the cat to drink plenty of water discourage from licking too much,but honestly baby shampoo wont kill a cat its the safest option of human shampoos to use if need be.

Is human dandruff shampoo effective for cats who also have dandruff?

No, dandruff shampoo is toxic, never use it on a cat. Most dandruff shampoo is now coming in many varieties which is harmful for cats like aloe, camphor, onion, etc.

Is dog-flea shampoos used for cats?

Permethrin is found in many spot-on preparations for dogs used for the control of fleas, biting flies and lice (also in some ant powders). Poisoning can arise when cats are accidentally treated with such dog flea products or where they groom themselves or other animals treated with the product. Cats may salivate a great deal, be thirsty and have a high temperature and tremors or convulsions. Urgent veterinary advice is essential if you used on them. NEVER USE DOG PRODUCTS ON CATS!!

Is dog-shampoo an alternative for cats?

Never use dog shampoo on a cat as they are too harsh and often have ingredients that are toxic to cats.

What are the other households a cat can be harmed by?

Cleaning and hygiene products such as bleach, cleaning fluids and creams, deodorants, deodorizers, disinfectants (particularly phenolic compounds like ‘Dettol’ which turn milky in water), laundry capsules and concentrated liquids, furniture and metal polishes. Concentrated washing liquids or powders can burn the feet and skin if cats walk through them.

Final words

Be smart and consult your cat’s veterinarian before purchasing a shampoo.

To keep your cat’s coat healthy, beautiful and clean, the vet may suggest a mild shampoo that has no fragrance, as scents can often be very overpowering.

Always buy a shampoo that is made only for cat use.

You can find an eco-friendly, aloe-free, cat-safe shampoo, like milk and honey shampoo or soap.

The ingredients should be simple enough like glycerin, organic coconut oil, organic olive oil, USDA farm-fresh organic products.

It’s safe for use on cats and other animals like dogs, in addition to being eco-friendly.

So, be smart while choosing ‘the one’ shampoo for your cat and we’ll see you in the next article.

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