Best Flea Shampoo for Cats: 3 Purrfect Picks to Kill Fleas ASAP

Your cat is itchy, scratchy and all sorts of miserable. You know that one good wash with the best flea shampoo for cats can kill off a good chunk of the fleas that are plaguing her. The only thing is: how do you convince your cat that this bath will be good for her?

As all cat owners know: cats certainly aren't dogs. And we love them for it, but that doesn't change the fact that our furry feline friends can be more difficult to monitor, especially when it comes to fleas.

Cats are naturally curious and love exploring the mysteries of life. That mouse that snuck into the house carrying fleas? Your cat's going to swat at it. That pile of rubbish in the corner of your yard that's harboring fleas? Your cat's going to go poke around in it.

And unlike dogs, cats don't exactly listen when you tell them to stop.

So yes, getting rid of fleas on cats can be a challenge. But that doesn't mean it can't be done, especially when you know what you're doing in the battle against fleas. Speaking of battles, a good cat shampoo should be amongst your first line of defense against cat fleas since it's a simple, effective way to kill fleas and offer immediate relief.

Here are a few tips that'll help you choose the best flea shampoo for cats...

  • Kill vs Repel Flea Shampoos

Do a quick Google search for the best flea shampoo for cats and you'll wind up with a whole bunch of results. Fleas suck, after all, so it only makes sense that there's a huge market dedicated to getting rid of them. With so many choices, how do you choose the best cat flea shampoo?

Well, the first thing you should know is what you're looking for: do you want to kill the fleas currently living on your cat or do you simply want a shampoo to repel the possibility of fleas?

This is important to know because many of the flea shampoos on the market don't actually kill fleas - some are designed to repel fleas while others are soothing shampoos that are helpful for flea-bitten, irritated skin. So make sure the cat flea shampoo you choose does what you need it to do!

  • Cat Flea Shampoo vs Dog Flea Shampoo

If you have both dog(s) and cat(s), you may be wondering if you can simply use your dog's flea shampoo for your cat. The answer is...maybe, but be very careful.

You see, cats are more prone to have negative reactions to certain insecticides than dogs are. That's because cats have a very sensitive metabolism, are often smaller than dogs, and also incessantly groom themselves (making it more likely that your cat will ingest the insecticides you apply on their fur).

This means that shampoos and other flea products containing certain insecticides should never be used on cats, although they may be fine for dogs. For example, any flea product containing permethrin is highly toxic to cats, even if it worked wonders for your dog.

Also be careful with insecticides that are generally okay for cats - pyrethrin, for example, is fine for most cats but can be harmful when it is in concentrated form, as it is in certain dog flea products. Always read labels and make sure the product is intended for both dogs and cats before using dog flea products on your cat!

  • What About Natural Flea Shampoo for Cats?

Natural sounds good, doesn't it? You like the idea of getting rid of fleas on cats without the use of potentially toxic pesticides. The thing is - natural doesn't necessarily mean safe, especially when it comes to cats.

Most of the natural flea shampoos for cats use a combination of potent essential oils like cinnamon, clove, rosemary, peppermint and cedar instead of pesticides. At first this sounds like a good thing, but in fact, the very same thing that makes pesticides more potentially harmful for cats also makes certain essential oils more harmful for cats as well.

Yes, we're talking about metabolism. In short, most essential oils are made up of hydrocarbons and terpenoids - the terpenoids are metabolized by the liver and then the remaining metabolites are eliminated through the urine and feces. But cats lack the liver enzyme (glucuronyl tranferase) that allows them to break down these compounds, which means it takes a lot longer for the metabolites to leave their system.

The result? These otherwise harmless substances can build up in cats' liver, causing toxicity problems and liver damage. So while natural flea shampoos can sound enticing - and make your kitty smell like delicious, smokey gingerbread! - be careful about using them on your cat.

Now that you know what's up, let's take a look at our top picks for the best flea shampoo for cats - read on to find out exactly why each shampoo might be the best flea killer for your cat!

Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo

best flea shampoo for dogs

Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo, $8

Why we love it? It straight up works. This is the most effective flea shampoo on the market.

There's good reason this flea shampoo is an Amazon best seller - it's hands down the most effective flea shampoo for cats (and dogs) that you can get your hands on. It's also the most affordable for its effectiveness - Vet-Kem's Ovritol Flea Shampoo uses the exact same concoction of insecticides and sells for twice the cost.

So what's its claim to flea killing fame? It wipes out not only the adult fleas, but it also kills flea eggs and flea larvae, which is essential since these buggers may not be biting now but they definitely will be as soon as they hatch.

With just one good wash, you get up to 28 days of control for pre-adult fleas. As for the adult fleas, it has the best kill ratio and is capable of wiping out around 95% of the active flea population. You’ll notice a huge difference right after the first bath.

Of course, this sort of effectiveness comes with downsides. For example, this is not a natural, toxin-free flea shampoo. It contain pesticides such as pyrethrins to kill adult fleas as well as Precor, which is an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) that breaks the flea lifecycle by preventing the young fleas that come into contact with it from growing normally into the next phase. The result? Dead adult fleas and pre-adult fleas that will never grow into blood-sucking adult fleas.

Oh, and in case you’re worried that the pesticides are going to be too much for your cat – rest assured, both the pyrethrins and IGR used is safe for cats. Plus, Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo balances out the harsher, flea-killing ingredients with soothing aloe and oatmeal – both ingredients that provide immediate relief for flea bites – as well as lanolin and coconut extract to help flea bites heal.


Zodiac Flea & Tick Shampoo

best flea shampoo for cats

Zodiac Flea & Tick Shampoo, $11

If you want the effectiveness of cat-safe insecticides but in lower concentrations, Zodiac's Flea & Tick Shampoo is purrfect. It contains pyrethrin but uses a much lower concentration (one third of what's found in Adams's Flea Shampoo), which makes it a good alternative for smaller, sensitive cats.

Apart from the flea-killing insecticides, the shampoo uses coconut conditioners to moisturize and soothe itchy, irritated skin and actually smells quite lovely for a flea shampoo.

We especially like that it's also alcohol-free (no more drying out and irritating already inflamed skin!) and is pH balanced.

The downside? This flea shampoo doesn't contain an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) so it's only effective for adult fleas and will do nothing for flea eggs or larvae - you'll have to treat these with another, complementary flea treatment for cats.

That being said, it's overall an effective, gentler flea shampoo for cats and has the bonus of leaving your cat's fur smelling and looking lovely!


Natural Chemistry De Flea Shampoo for Cats

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De Flea Pet Shampoo, $10

On the hunt for a mild, pesticide-free flea shampoo for cats? Wondering if such a thing would even be effective? You bet it is. De Flea’s Flea and Tick Shampoo is totally free of pesticides - no pyrethrins, no IGRs - and instead uses a patented combination of flea killing ingredients that essentially melts the waxy exoskeleton of fleas (as well as ticks, lice and mites).

Once the acids have melted the natural armor that fleas have, its internal organs get shut down. The result? Dead fleas – all without pesticides.

The most brilliant thing about this flea shampoo, though, is that it’s effective against all life stages of fleas so you don’t have to worry about flea eggs and larvae escaping from this fate.

So if you’re looking for a toxin free flea shampoo that works, this is the one to pick. After the first wash, you will literally see hundreds of dead fleas falling off your beloved cat. Hurrah! Victory 🙂


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