Last Updated: January 01, 2021

Best Flea & Tick Shampoo for Cats

Best Flea & Tick Shampoo for Cats

Because the simple act of shampooing and rinsing your cat will both weigh and drown fleas, we opted to skip the “flea specific” shampoos- so many toxic and sketchy ingredients. Our experts recommend  Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Dog and Cat Shampoo as our leader in this category. It’s natural, non-chemical, non-toxic, and reparative ingredients will not only kill fleas but will also soothe your cat’s skin.

Safety disclaimer: We have reviewed a few products that we would not recommend you use on your cat. Avoid any shampoos that contain pyrethrins, as they can kill your cat or make her very ill. 

Best Products Best Flea & Tick Shampoo for Cats

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Best Overall
Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Dog & Cat Shampoo
Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Dog & Cat Shampoo Best Overall
$14
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
$28
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
10/10
  • What we Like
  • Tearless
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Soothes skin irritated by fleas
  • 100% Biodegradable
  • Paraben, fragrance and phosphate-free
  • What we Dislike
  • Not specifically a “flea” shampoo
Product Details
Use For cats and dogs over 6 weeks of age
Safety Safe for cats
Active Ingredients: Purified Water
Renewable Coconut-based Cleansers
Aloe Vera
Vitamins A
B
D
& E
Glycerin
Natural Preservative
Our Review

Although Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Dog and Cat Shampoo is not explicitly a flea shampoo, it produces the same results–to rid your cat of fleas. The benefits of this shampoo are many. It is free of harsh and dangerous chemicals and essential oils that can harm you, your cat, and the environment. It contains beneficial ingredients to soothe your cat’s skin and relieves its discomfort from flea bites through the coconut, aloe vera, and vitamin E. Also, this shampoo will not wash away existing flea treatments. You may also want to consider using the Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Fragrance-Free Dog & Cat Conditioner if your cat is incredibly itchy. It contains oatmeal and aloe vera to help relieve irritated skin.

Espree Tear-Free Aloe Vera Puppy & Kitten Shampoo
Espree Tear-Free Aloe Vera Puppy & Kitten Shampoo
$0
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
$7
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
9/10
  • What we Like
  • Tear-free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Organically-grown ingredients
  • Soothing for skin and softens coat
  • What we Dislike
  • Baby-powder scent is strong
  • May not lather easily
Product Details
Use For kittens and nursing or pregnant cats
Safety Safe for humans and cats
Active Ingredients: Purified Water
Conditioner
Oat Protein
Preservatives
Aloe Vera Juice
Vitamin E
Fragrance
Quaternized Honey
Jojoba Oil
Pro-Vitamin B5
Vitamins A & D
Our Review

This is another of our favorite products for removing fleas simply by using a dedicated, safe cat shampoo combined with water. This particular product is specifically designed for young kittens and is safe enough for nursing and pregnant cats. It is tear-free and hypoallergenic while soothing to a cat whose skin may be raw from fleas. We give Espree a thumbs up for being environmentally conscious using organically grown aloe vera, jojoba, and coconut. We would recommend this product over Dawn dishwashing soap for use on flea-ridden kittens.

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hypoallergenic Shampoo
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hypoallergenic Shampoo
$0
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
$9
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
8/10
  • What we Like
  • Tearless
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Soothes skin irritated by fleas
  • Sulfate-, dye-, fragrance, and paraben-free
  • What we Dislike
  • Some ingredients may pose health and environmental risks
  • Does not lather easily
Product Details
Use For dogs and cats 6 months of age and older
Safety Safe for cats
Active Ingredients: Purified Water
Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate
Sodium Alpha Olefin Sulfonate
Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Dmdm-Hydantoin
Allantoin
Lactic Acid
Tetrasodium Edta
Vitamin E
Our Review

This Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hypoallergenic Shampoo is not primarily a flea shampoo. As you’ll see in our Buyer’s Guide, the primary goal of a flea shampoo is to rid your cat of fleas. A good quality, chemical-free shampoo, and water will do the job nicely. This product is tearless, hypoallergenic, and will soothe irritated, itchy skin. According to the Environmental Working Group, the ingredients are mostly safe; however, they note concerns about skin irritation and environmental risks. These risks are very low in comparison to other products we reviewed. The company also provides the Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Conditioner, which contains analgesic and anti-inflammatory ingredients designed to provide extra relief for pets with very irritated skin. Note: the label states this is safe for adult cats. Most experts agree that kittens are considered cats at the age of 6 months.

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea & Tick Shampoo
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea & Tick Shampoo
$5
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
1/10
  • What we Like
  • Kills fleas and ticks on contact
  • Inactive ingredients of aloe and lanolin soothe skin
  • Fresh scent
  • What we Dislike
  • Hazardous to humans
  • Especially dangerous for children
  • Concentration of pyrethrins is highly toxic to cats
Product Details
Use For dogs
cats
ferrets
and horses over 12 weeks
Safety Hazardous to humans
toxic to cats
Active Ingredients: Pyrethrins (0.15%)
Piperonyl Butoxide (0.30%)
N-Octyl Bicyclopheptene Dicarboximide (0.479%)
Our Review

This particular product from Veterinary Formula Clinical Care solves one issue that the Hypoallergenic Shampoo from the same manufacturer does not solve–it kills ticks. Shampoos not containing insecticides will not kill ticks. However, we have rated this a 0/10 because it is absolutely not safe to use on cats. The pyrethrin concentration is too high for cats to tolerate. And, as discussed in our Buyer’s Guide, pyrethrins in any concentration can cause severe, life-threatening reactions in cats.

Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo
Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo
$0
Review manufacturer chewy
on chewy
$12
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
6/10
  • What we Like
  • Soothing and moisturizing
  • Creates a natural, protective film on skin and coat
  • Unique system which provides a slow release of ingredients
  • What we Dislike
  • Not specifically flea killing
  • Not hypoallergenic
  • Not tear-free
Product Details
Use Age limitations not provided
Safety Precautions for humans and cats
Active Ingredients: Water
Sodium lauryl sulfate
Cocamidopropyl betaine
SPHERULITES® Microcapsules
Glycerin
Colloidal oatmeal
Lauryl glucoside
Chitosan succinamide
Magnesium aluminum silicate
DMDM hydantoin
D-Galactose
D-Mannose
L-Rhamnose
fragrance
Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose
FD&C Blue #1
Sodium chloride. May contain Lactic acid and Sodium hydroxide to adjust pH
Our Review

This Virbac shampoo has several things we like, such as the Spherulites, which slowly release ingredients over time and long-after bathing, the anti-itch and soothing qualities, and the fact the product is “soap-free.” Some of the things we don’t like about the shampoo are that it contains chemicals, is not hypoallergenic, and not tear-free.

Dawn Dish Soap
Dawn Dish Soap
$11
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
3/10
  • What we Like
  • Handy to use in a pinch
  • Drowns fleas
  • Easily obtainable
  • What we Dislike
  • Not formulated for use on pets
  • Not recommended by veterinarians
  • Can cause skin irritation
  • Can exacerbate skin irritation
Product Details
Use May use in a minimal amount on kittens and cats
Safety Safe for humans
precautions with cats
Active Ingredients: Alcohol Denatured
C10-16 Alkyldimethylamine Oxide
Colorants
Fragrances
Methylisothiazolinone
PEI-14 PEG-24/PPG-16 Copolymer
Phenoxyethanol
PPG-26
Sodium Chloride
Sodium Hydroxide
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Water
C9-11 Pareth-8
Our Review

We’ve often heard of using Dawn dish soap on kittens with flea infestations as kittens are often too young and small for flea treatments and preventatives. It’s not formulated for use on animals and can dry out their skin quickly. If their skin is irritated from being bitten by fleas, this can also worsen the irritation. There are other, specifically cat and kitten formulated products that are available. If you have no other option, use a small amount with an overabundance of water. Dawn can be used to quickly reduce the number of fleas on a cat but will not repel them or prevent fleas that weren’t on the cat during the bath from returning.

As with any other product not labeled to kill fleas, fleas will die from combining the soap and water versus chemicals.

Wondercide Geranium & Citronella Dog & Cat Shampoo Bar
Wondercide Geranium & Citronella Dog & Cat Shampoo Bar
$15
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
1/10
  • What we Like
  • Moisturizing and soothing
  • No chemical or artificial ingredients
  • Cruelty-free, eco-friendly, vegan formula
  • Lathers well
  • What we Dislike
  • Essential oils are toxic to cats
  • Not proven to kill or repel fleas
Product Details
Use For use on pets of all age
Safety Precautions for humans
Toxic to cats
Active Ingredients: Saponified Oils (Coconut Oil
Olive Oil
Shea Butter
Castor Oil)
Geranium Oil
Citronella Oil
Aloe Vera
Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
Honey
Our Review

All-natural products are indeed healthier for humans and pets than products containing pesticides. This is not a bad choice for a dog. However, cats are more sensitive to essential oils than are dogs. Through skin absorption or inhalation of essential oils, cats are at risk of severe health concerns. Cats’ livers do not process essential oils or pyrethrins  (found in chemical flea shampoos) well. A well-meaning bath could unnecessarily put your feline friend in harm’s way.

Vet's Best Flea & Tick Shampoo for Cats
Vet's Best Flea & Tick Shampoo for Cats
$6
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
1/10
  • What we Like
  • Formulated by holistic veterinarians
  • Easy to lather and rinse
  • What we Dislike
  • Essential oils not proven to kill fleas, flea larvae, or ticks
  • Essential oils are toxic to cats
  • Strong medicinal smell
  • Not tear-free
  • Not hypoallergenic
Product Details
Use For cats and kittens 12 weeks of age and older
Safety Precautions for humans
toxic to cats
Active Ingredients: Clove Oil (0.63%)
Cottonseed Oil (0.03%)
Our Review

Perhaps when we have actual scientific studies on the effectiveness and safety of essential oil products, we will feel more comfortable recommending them.

In order to be “safe,” the essential oil concentrations in these products are so low they are not going to effectively repel fleas. Even in low concentrations, all available research indicates that essential oils are toxic to your cat.

The act of bathing your cat will drown fleas but this product does not kill them on its own.

Also, essential oil shampoos such as this one offer no long-lasting benefits that could even begin to outweigh the risk to cats. Therefore, we have to rate essential oil products low. 

Vet's Best Flea and Tick Waterless Bath Foam for Cats
Vet's Best Flea and Tick Waterless Bath Foam for Cats
$14
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
1/10
  • What we Like
  • Formulated by holistic veterinarians
  • Waterless for hard-to-bathe cats
  • What we Dislike
  • Essential oils not proven to kill fleas, flea larvae, or ticks
  • Essential oils are toxic to cats
  • Not tearless
  • Not hypoallergenic
Product Details
Use For cats 12 weeks of age and older
Safety Precautions for humans
Toxic to cats
Active Ingredients: Peppermint Oil (0.20%)
Eugenol (0.46%)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (1.78%)
Our Review

Waterless shampoo is a wonderful invention, especially for the cat who runs and hides when bathing is involved. And this Vet’s Best waterless shampoo product would be perfect if not for the essential oils, which are toxic to cats.

Many cat owners who have used the product agree that fleas seem to die upon contact. However, the effectiveness of essential oils as a parasiticide is unproven by scientific studies. More importantly, essential oils are toxic to cats. A dry shampoo leaves behind quite a lot in your cat’s fur, including the essential oils. He may smell nice after use, but you are poisoning him. With essential oil shampoos, cats are exposed to the oils through their skin and ingesting the oils while self-grooming.

In order to be “safe,” the essential oil concentrations in these products are so low they are not going to effectively repel fleas. Even in low concentrations, all available research indicates that essential oils are toxic to your cat.

Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor
Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor
$11
Review manufacturer amazon
on amazon
1/10
  • What we Like
  • Aloe and Lanolin soothe skin
  • Prevents flea re-infestations on a cat for up to 28 days
  • What we Dislike
  • Hazardous to humans
  • Especially dangerous for children
  • Pyrethrins concentration is highly toxic to cats
  • Not tearless
Product Details
Use For cats 12 weeks of age and older
Safety Hazardous to humans
toxic to cats
Active Ingredients: Pyrethrins (0.15%)
S-Methoprene (0.10%)
Piperonyl Butoxide (1.88%)
Our Review

We cannot stress strongly enough the dangers of using Pyrethrins on or near your cat. Pyrethrins are known to cause dangerous and sometimes fatal health issues when used on cats or when cats are inadvertently exposed to Pyrethrins through contact with dog flea products. And while this shampoo kills flea eggs on your pet for up to 28 days, this alone will not solve a flea infestation issue, nor is it the best preventative treatment for your cat.

Best Products Best Flea & Tick Shampoo for Cats
Product Name Best for Rate
Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Dog & Cat Shampoo Best Overall 10

How to Choose:

Finding fleas on our pets is one of the worst kinds of discoveries. When you find fleas on your cat, one of the first things you can do to help kill those pests is bathing your cat. Keep in mind that a flea bath is only part of a complete flea elimination regimen. 

It’s important to understand that when choosing a flea shampoo for your cat, the shampoo does not have to be a “flea shampoo.” The simple combination of shampoo to weigh the fleas down and water to drown the fleas will work just as well as toxin-laden flea shampoos. 

For example, you may have heard of people giving newborn, flea-ridden kittens baths with Dawn dish soap. We’ve found a product, Espree Tear-Free Aloe Vera Puppy & Kitten Shampoo, that is even better than Dawn. The Espree product works for very young kittens, nursing cats, and pregnant cats. It’s tearless, hypoallergenic, and soothing to the skin. It contains all-natural and safe ingredients, and it does the job of killing fleas with the combination of the shampoo (weighs the fleas down) and water (drowns the fleas).  

We rated the Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Dog & Cat Shampoo at the top of our list. It, too, does not contain any harsh chemicals or toxic agents to either humans or cats. Its limited list of ingredients is 100% biodegradable; it’s tearless, hypoallergenic, and Paraben, fragrance, and phosphate-free. It also nourishes and soothes your cat’s skin with Coconut-based Cleansers, Aloe Vera, Vitamins A, B, D, & E, and Glycerin.  

Other products we liked include Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hypoallergenic Shampoo, and Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo. These products contain more chemicals and ingredients but are still viable choices for bathing your cat. 

 

Don’t Poison Your Cat: Avoid These:

Although many of the products for flea and tick removal on the market for cats contain pyrethrins, which are highly toxic to cats, the pyrethrin percentage in these particular products is within the bounds of “acceptable,” meaning they are less toxic than other products containing pyrethrins. These products include Sentry PurrScriptions Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo for Cats and Zodiac Flea and Tick Shampoo for Dogs and Cats. However, please remember that just because these products are “less toxic” to cats does not necessarily mean your particular cat will respond without toxicity issues.

Understanding Attributes of Flea Shampoos for Cats:

Because all of the products we reviewed technically kill fleas, we focused on the attributes of Use, Safety, and Active Ingredients.

 

  • Use:

Most of the products are to be used on cats and kittens 12 weeks of age and older. The exceptions to this are Espree Tear-Free Aloe Vera Puppy & Kitten Shampoo, Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo and Dawn Dish Soap.

  • Safety: 

In each of our reviews, we stated if the product was safe, included “precautions,” was “hazardous,” “dangerous,” or was “toxic” to humans and cats. We used information the manufacturers provided and our knowledge of active ingredients to determine each product’s safety. You’ll note we’ve recommended DO NOT BUY on several products based on hazards and toxicity.

  • Active Ingredients:

Some of the shampoos we reviewed contain Pyrethrins or members of the Pyrethrin family of chemicals. Although the risks of Pyrethrin poisoning in mammals overall is relatively low, cats are much more sensitive. According to an academic study in 2016, pyrethrins are “extremely toxic to cats.” Exposure to this active ingredient can cause “characteristic clinical signs such as seizures (80%), muscle fasciculations (9%), tremors (95%), hypersalivation (100%) etc.” “Cats may be exposed from cutaneous application of topical products, oral ingestion, and direct contact with topically treated dogs.”

Several individual and class-action lawsuits have been filed against Hartz for the use of Pyrethrins. NBC News in Los Angeles produced a story about Pyrethrins in 2009, and more than 90 reports of pets reacting to or dying from Hartz’s flea shampoos are noted on a website called hartzvictims.org.

We have learned that the concentration of Pyrethrins plays a role in the level of toxicity to cats. According to the Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology (Second Edition), 2001, “Cats tolerate low concentrations of pyrethroids, but not high concentrations.” Dove Lewis Emergency Veterinary Animal Hospital in Portland, Oregon, added: “The truth is that permethrin [Pyrethrin product] is also safe to apply to most cats but only at a concentration of 0.05-0.1%. The sad truth is that sometimes even if everything is done right, some animals will simply be more sensitive to pyrethrins or pyrethroids and may develop toxicity when these medications are used strictly by the book.” We applied this guidance in rating some of the products having pyrethrin levels below 0.05%. 

  • Essential Oils:

These may smell nice to humans. Everyone likes the idea of natural healing and medicine. To that end, essential oils have become very popular in products used by humans, and some manufacturers thought it might be nice to use them on our pets too.  However, flea products contain essential oils are not regulated by the EPA or FDA. Products containing essential oils have not been proven via clinical studies to kill insects and are also very toxic to cats. Texas A&M University’s Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences classify all essential oils as toxic to pets. According to the ASPCA, “Cats are especially sensitive to essential oils, and effects such as gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression, and even liver damage could occur if ingested in significant quantities. Inhalation of the oils could lead to aspiration pneumonia.” The Pet Poison Hotline stated that “Essential oils can pose a toxic risk to household pets, especially to cats. They are rapidly absorbed both orally and across the skin and are then metabolized in the liver. Cats lack an essential enzyme in their liver and, as such, have difficulty metabolizing and eliminating certain toxins like essential oils.”


All of the products we reviewed are available through various retailers and do not require a prescription. However, it is essential to remember that each cat will react differently to chemicals and oils. Therefore, you should ALWAYS consult your veterinarian before choosing to use any flea product, including shampoos.