​​Best Flea Shampoo For Cats

  • Written By Dan Edwards on April 13, 2018
    Last Updated: December 10, 2020

Fleas are painful, uninvited guests for your much-loved kitty. These irritating pests can cause your cat much discomfort and distress, as well as causing the risk of greater complications in young kittens.

No responsible cat owner would stand by and leave their cat to struggle and suffer from fleas. There are many flea shampoos out there to choose from which claim to bring relief to your cat, but which ones are the best?

Before you rush out to buy a flea shampoo, this article will tell you everything you need to know about which shampoos to avoid, which flea shampoos are best, and how to use them effectively.

Is Flea Shampoo Safe for All Cats?

If your cat has fleas, this is upsetting for both you and your beloved pet. Flea bites can cause pain, irritation, and distress for your furry friend, so you need to take action as soon as possible. Flea dirt can also become an unsightly irritant to your cat. As always, it is extremely important that you take the time to ensure you are choosing the correct flea treatment for your cat; flea shampoo is no exception.

flea dirt on cats
Flea dirt on a cat

Many cat owners will simply assume that all flea shampoos are the same, and that they are safe to use on their pet. This is simply not true. There are many types of flea shampoo out there, but some of them can cause serious problems for your cat if you choose the incorrect one.

There are generally two kinds of flea shampoo: chemical and non-chemical. Chemical flea shampoos include insecticides, which are known as pyrethrins. These chemicals work by killing adult fleas which are living upon the animal. They are the most frequently found pesticide in flea products and have been used to combat pests for hundreds of years.

Pyrethrins are often used together with a separate chemical, which acts as a growth regulator. This tackles those fleas which have not yet reached adulthood, thus halting the population from both ends of the life cycle.

Pyrethrin isn’t toxic in very low doses, but the danger comes when you use a product containing this chemical that isn’t designed for cats. Any improper use of pyrethrin, including overuse, has the potential to poison your kitty.

There is a reason that there are both dog and cat products on the market. Cats have a much higher sensitivity to chemicals than dogs. Also, flea products for dogs tend to contain much higher concentrations of insecticides. It is therefore imperative that you never use dog products on your cat. Due to the higher level of chemicals, there is a greater risk your cat will suffer from a toxic reaction.

Only use flea shampoos and flea products which are formulated for cats, on your cat. It is also good practice to check the labels of pet products for any of the following pyrethroid chemicals, which can also cause a toxic reaction: allethrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, fenvalerate, fluvalinate, permethrin, phenothrin, etofenprox, and tetramethrin.

These chemicals are often found in high quantities in dog products, but they can cause problems for cats. Cats have a different liver metabolism to dogs, which is the reason they cannot manage the higher levels of these chemicals, as well as other kinds of drugs.

Non-chemical flea shampoos use a combination of essential oils and herbal extracts, which fleas find offensive. They often contain citronella, eucalyptus, rosemary and lemongrass. Fleas hate the smell and taste of these plants. These natural products will not kill fleas directly, but act as effective repellents to prevent fleas from settling and feeding upon your kitty.

Natural flea shampoos are the best option for cats due to their particular sensitivities.

Can You Use Flea Shampoo on Kittens?

If young kittens get fleas, the consequences can be life threatening. Fleas must feed regularly on the blood of their host, to survive and become fertile enough to breed. Because young kittens have such small bodies, they do not have much blood volume. A bad flea infestation can cause significant blood loss for a kitten, resulting in sickness, and in serious cases, even death.

If you have small kittens with fleas, check to see the color of their gums. If they are pale, this is a sign of anemia. Call your vet right away; it is too late for home flea treatment now.

Home flea treatment for kittens depends greatly upon their age. Kittens under eight weeks old cannot be treated with flea shampoos. Instead, you can give them a bath with baby shampoo and treat them with a flea comb to remove fleas. You must attack the source of fleas in the home, and treat the mother cat too, in these circumstances. Never treat a mother cat with chemical flea treatments without speaking to your vet first.

Flea on kittens

Older kittens who are aged between eight and 12 weeks, may be able to use specialized flea shampoos designed for kittens. However, always check the labels first. Kittens are very sensitive at a young age that they require delicate care. If you have any concerns or questions about flea treatment for your kitten, it is best to check with your vet.

Best Flea Shampoo For Cats

Now that we know what to be aware of when choosing a flea shampoo for cats, let’s take a look at some of our favorites.

Pet Diesel Shampoo and Conditioner

Pet Diesel shampoo and conditioner is a 2-in-1 formula that uses organic extracts, minerals, and essential oils to gently infuse your cat’s skin and coat with a beautiful scent that fleas hate. It contains a mix of eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, and lavender oils, combined with moisturizing shea butter to soothe the skin and soften their fur.

This formula is wonderful for pets who have sensitive skin that can become sore, dry, and irritated as a result of flea bites and scratching. It’s very easy to use: simply wet your cat from the neck down with warm water and massage the shampoo deep into the coat, making sure to cover them thoroughly. Leave the suds in place for three minutes and rinse well.

All Pet Diesel products are manufactured with the highest quality organic ingredients. They’re also free from sulfates, parabens, and chemicals, all of which could irritate your cat’s skin. This shampoo is produced in the US and is subject to quality assurance inspections, to ensure the formula is effective and safe.

Furthermore, for those who care about the environment, Pet Diesel shampoo is a great eco-friendly choice. The use of organic ingredients is good for the environment as well as for you and your pet. The suds created are easily rinsed clear from the coat, so you will not waste too much water during your cat’s bath.

  • Chemical free, organic flea shampoo.
  • Effectively removes and repels fleas.
  • Uses a combination of essential oils, extracts, and minerals.
  • Shea butter to soothe and moisturize skin.
  • Sulfate-, paraben-, and insecticide-free.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Good for the environment.
  • Easy to rinse.

Honeydew Natural Pet Shampoo

Honeydew natural pet shampoo is an all-natural flea shampoo which is specifically formulated for pets with itchy, dry or sensitive skin. It uses both citronella and lemongrass to leave your cat smelling great, but unattractive to pesky fleas.

Flea bites can be a big contributor to itchy skin, but sometimes cats may be generally sensitive and prone to irritation. This shampoo is the perfect option for cats that are easily upset by more abrasive shampoos.

Honeydew natural pet shampoo is free from any harsh ingredients which can dry out the skin. It’s also antimicrobial and has odor-eliminating properties, as well as keeping your cat’s fur lovely and soft.

This shampoo is safe for regular use on your cat if necessary. There are no sulfates, parabens, artificial fragrances or mineral oils to cause irritation or allergic reactions in sensitive kitties.

  • All natural ingredients.
  • Contains citronella and lemongrass to repel fleas.
  • Great for cats with sensitive skin.
  • Free from sulfates, mineral oils, artificial fragrances, and parabens.
  • Antimicrobial and odor-eliminating.
  • Safe for regular use.

Paws & Pals Flea Shampoo-Conditioner

Paws & Pals flea shampoo-conditioner is a fantastic choice of flea shampoo. It uses a range of natural ingredients to eliminate fleas from your cat. The formula is moisturizing and deodorizing, while also effectively detangling any knots in the fur.

This shampoo contains a mixture of aloe vera, jojoba, cedarwood, clove, rosemary and sea kelp extracts and oils, guaranteed to leave your pet’s fur smelling fresh and feeling soft. The formula is suitable for cats with sensitivities, as well as those that have a tendency to allergies. It’s free from parabens, and contains shea butter, which quickly soothes and relieves the itching caused by flea bites.

  • Natural flea-repellent ingredients.
  • Moisturizes and deodorizes the coat.
  • Free from parabens.
  • Shea butter to soothe and relieve itching.

How to Use Flea Shampoo Effectively

Cats are not known for their love of baths, but when it comes to getting rid of fleas, they will surely feel better after a scrub with flea shampoo.

If you have a nervous kitty, a useful tip is to give them their bath in the sink, or even a baby tub, rather than your large bathtub. This is because your cat may feel exposed and naturally be more anxious in such a large, white space. Being able to get closer to your cat rather than leaning over a large bathtub might also make the process easier for you, with less strain on your back.

No matter which option you choose, you will need some supplies at hand to give your cat the most effective flea bath. Make sure to place a towel in the base of the bath or tub, to give your cat something to grip onto. It will only make the situation more difficult for all involved if your cat is slipping and sliding about in the tub!

Gather together the following: flea shampoo, a bucket, small tub or jug to pour water from, a dry towel, some tissue and a flea comb. Make sure these are all within easy reach, as you are likely to need to keep one hand on your cat at all times.

Once you and your cat are ready, follow our instructions below to give your cat the perfect flea bath:

  1. Be calm with your cat, speak to them gently and reassuringly, so they do not feel too anxious. Keep the bathroom door shut to prevent having to chase an escaped cat around the house. You may need a friend on hand to help you if your cat is very nervous.
  2. Fill the tub up to about armpit height with warm—not hot—water. Once you’re happy with the temperature, gently and slowly lower your cat into the water.
  3. Give your cat time to get used to having wet legs, before starting to slowly pour the water over their body. You should keep the jug close to them when pouring so it isn’t too scary. If you prefer, you can even moisten them with your hand instead if they are anxious.
  4. Once the fur is completely wet, it’s time to use the flea shampoo. It is important to start at your cat’s head, as fleas tend to climb upwards to escape.
  5. Take a small amount of the shampoo as directed and start to lather all over your cat’s body, from the head down. Be careful not to get any suds in their eyes, ears, or nose.
  6. Massage the suds in well, being sure to get right down to the skin. If you see any fleas, grab them and squash them in your fingers before wiping them onto the tissue.
  7. At this point, you can start to gently comb through your cat’s fur with the flea comb,, to remove any fleas or eggs which are hiding.
  8. Make sure to thoroughly rinse all the suds from your cat before towel drying them well. Flush away the fleas on the tissue and any hair which has attached to the comb. Rinse out the bath to make sure any fleas are washed away down the drain.
  9. Give your cat lots of fuss! Some treats or some play time with their favorite toy is a great way to encourage them not to be scared next time you give them a bath.

You may have to repeat this treatment a couple of times over the next few weeks to ensure all the fleas have left your cat.

Flea Shampoo Risks & Precautions

As we discussed earlier, flea shampoos are not a “one size fits all” approach to flea treatment. Many of these products contain chemicals which are unsuitable, or even downright dangerous, for your cat. You should never use a flea shampoo which is formulated for dogs upon your cat. These shampoos contain higher levels of chemicals which can result in poisoning.

When dealing with fleas on kittens, it is very important that you are considering the age of the kitten when deciding upon treatment. Kittens are at particular risk from anemia when they are very young, if under attack from fleas. Pay attention to the color of their gums and seek advice from a vet if you are concerned.

Kittens under eight weeks old cannot be treated with flea shampoo, but you can give them a bath, as detailed above, with a gentle baby shampoo.

If you’re worried that your cat may have been exposed to an incorrect flea treatment and is at risk of poisoning, you should contact your vet right away. Keep at hand any bottles you have used on your cat, so you have the information regarding the ingredients nearby.

Cats which have been exposed to permethrin will often appear frightened, twitchy, shaky and can develop seizures. You could call the ASPCA Animal Poison Center at (888) 426-4435 for advice if you cannot reach your vet. If your cat has been poisoned, the treatment will involve cleaning the permethrin from your cat, hydrating them and administering medication to control the seizures. Your cat must be treated immediately for the best chance of survival.

Cat owners should be aware of the fact that some products which have similar sounding names can very often use different active chemicals, so you should always carefully read the labels before purchase and use. If you have treated a dog in your home recently, you should take care to keep your cat away from them to avoid the risk of poisoning.

As long as you’re aware of the chemicals to avoid, you and your cat shouldn’t have any reason to worry. Only use products designed for cats; speak to your vet for advice if in doubt. Homemade flea shampoos can also be used if you’d like to be extra-cautions.


Flea shampoos are a great way to help rid your cat of the flea menace. But, as we have seen, there are many things to be aware of when choosing the best flea shampoo for your cat. We have examined the risks and precautions which must be considered when choosing a flea shampoo, as well as discussing three of our favorite choices on the market today.

We are confident that, after reading this article, you are well informed about how to choose the best flea shampoo for your kitty – thus ensuring they can finally become flea-free—safely and effectively.