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Can I Use Dove Soap On My Cat? Useful Tips & Alternatives

dove soap
Image Credit: Amazon
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Sophie Jeffares

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Fortunately for us, cats are pretty good at keeping themselves clean. However, our mischievous cats can find themselves in places where they get a lot dirtier than they can handle.

If they get something toxic over their coat, such as car oil, you’ll want to clean them up quickly so they don’t ingest any toxins. Without cat shampoo, you may find yourself in a pickle and wonder if your soap can be used on your cat.

Dove soap is okay to use on your cat if you don’t have cat shampoo. However, it is formulated for human skin, and its use on cats can cause dryness and irritation.

3 cat face divider

Dove Soap Ingredients

There is much more to a plain soap bar than meets the eye. Dove soap has a long list of ingredients. While they all appear to be artificial chemicals, many have natural origins.

The Dove Beauty Bar has the following ingredients:

  • Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate
  • Stearic Acid
  • Lauric Acid
  • Sodium Oleate
  • Water
  • Sodium Isethionate
  • Sodium Stearate
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Fragrance (Parfum)
  • Sodium Laurate
  • Tetrasodium Etidronate
  • Tetrasodium EDTA
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Kaolin
  • Titanium Dioxide

Dove Beauty Bar claims to be less drying than regular soap, and many reviews substantiate this claim. Still, some ingredients, such as sulfates and artificial fragrances, may be concerning for cat skin.

cat in bathtub
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

Is Dove Soap Safe for Cats?

Dove soap is formulated to be cleansing and nourishing for human skin. Cat skin, on average, is higher in pH than human skin. Ingredients in human-formulated soaps, like Dove soap, will be overly harsh on feline skin and disrupt the skin’s pH.

Keeping the skin’s pH within a natural range allows the skin to protect itself from harmful free radicals and allergens. Stripping back a cat’s skin pH with human soap can decrease the protective quality, leaving skin vulnerable to allergies and irritations. Infections can become more common in unhealthy, unbalanced skin.

For a cat with otherwise healthy skin, one use of Dove soap won’t cause significant harm. Human soap can be okay if it is the only cleanser on hand when a bath is vital.

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Cats? What You Must Know! Cats are equipped with all the tools they need to bathe and clean themselves, but there may be times when your cat needs some assistance, possibly after they have walked through or played in something particularly dirty. Besides the fact that your cat will probably hate the experience of being bathed, it is important to remember that regular bathing can cause more harm than good, so it should be reserved solely for emergencies. With that said, there is a good chance that you won’t have cat shampoo laying around in the cupboard. So, can you use human shampoo on your cats? Is it safe? The quick answer is no, you shouldn’t use human shampoo on your cats. We’ll tell you more below. Should You Bathe Your Cat? Your cat has a rough tongue and powerful teeth. He has the tools he requires to effectively keep himself clean most of the time. This is especially true of short-haired cats. As such, it is rare that you will even consider bathing your cats. However, it is also true that cats are incredibly inquisitive. Some might say nosey. They want to investigate every portion of every room. They want to know what you keep grabbing out of the cupboard, and what it is that has such a strong smell in the back of the shed. They rub against things, roll in liquids and substances you don’t want them to, and have a seemingly endless list of ways in which they can cause mischief and end up caked in mud and other nasties. There may, then, be occasion when you feel it is necessary to bathe your cat. Occasional bathing is fine. The same natural oils that help protect your cat’s coat from everyday dirt and grime will recover after a bath. Frequent bathing, though, can strip these oils from the fur. This will leave your cat with dry fur. It can also lead to dry skin, rashes, and other problems that not only leave their fur lacking luster but may actually cause them harm. So, you can bathe your cat, but you should only do so when it is absolutely necessary. If you have ever had to bathe a cat, you likely won’t want to repeat the process too often. It tends to result in a lot of soapy water everywhere except on the cat, and a terrified and angry cat warning you off. It’s a lot of water, claws, and hissing, but not a lot of cleaning. You should make the process quick, be confident, and you should have everything ready before you even consider turning the tap on. Should You Use Human Shampoo? Even the most delicate human shampoo contains chemicals and other ingredients that are harmful to your cat. A lot of shampoos contain perfumes and even essential oils, both of which can prove toxic to your cat. The ingredients are effectively absorbed through the cat’s skin and broken down by the liver, but a cat’s liver is not the same as a human’s and it is not as effective at breaking down the chemicals that are found in human shampoo. Therefore, it is safest to use a shampoo specially designed for cats. Using Specialist Cat Shampoo It is worth having a bottle of cat shampoo in the cupboard, ready for any mud-based emergency. These shampoos are formulated especially for use on cats. They have the right pH balance, so are not usually as acidic as human shampoo, and they do not contain the same essential oils and perfumes as are used in our own shampoo. Cat shampoo won’t dry out your cat’s fur or skin as readily. It will contain some natural odor that will help get rid of the smell of dirt and muck, but it uses natural ingredients that are not damaging to your cat. Is Human Shampoo Safe For Cats? Some human shampoo may prove relatively safe for cats, but the majority of ingredients found in human shampoo can prove dangerous for your filthy feline. Stick to cat shampoo, only bathe when necessary, and be prepared before you grab the cat because the process is likely to get a bit scratchy.
Image Credit: Olleg, Shutterstock


Cat-Safe Soaps

Cat Shampoo

The best option for cleaning your cat is formulated cat shampoo. Species-specific cleansers will be adjusted for the biology of the animal’s skin, reducing any potential harm. Many cat shampoos offer targeted benefits such as anti-itch or extra moisturizing, so you can choose a recipe that will be favorable for your cat.


Depending on what your cat’s coat has become contaminated with, you may be able to use water to clean them. Substances such as dirt or dust can be rinsed away without using a cleanser.

You can also use a damp towel to wipe away dirt to avoid a full bath. This tactic is practical and can easily pass as a friendly pat to your cat! Denser or oily substances may need extra power to lift away from cat fur.

Persian cat bathing
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

Baby Products

Human soaps are harsh on cat skin due to the pH imbalance. Adult human skin ranges from 5–5.5, while cats are 6.4–6.9. Interestingly, baby skin ranges from 6.3–7.5.

This disparity is why baby shampoos and other skin products exist independently from products formulated for adult skin. But you’ll see that the pH of a baby is within the pH range of cat skin.

If you use human products on your cat, baby shampoos or wipes will be much gentler!

cat paw divider

Final Thoughts

If your cat needs a bath ASAP and you don’t have cat shampoo, you may naturally reach for a human soap. Cleansers made for humans, such as Dove soap, are not designed for cats.

In the absence of an alternative, Dove soap won’t harm your cat but should not be used long-term. In the future, invest in a good cat shampoo for emergencies!

Featured Image: Amazon

About the Author

Sophie Jeffares
Sophie Jeffares
With an early start in the veterinary industry and as a conservation educator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, Sophie has since been a successful Zookeeper and Conservationist, specializing in native New Zealand species. When she’s not bird watching in native forests or crawling through the underbrush at midnight searching for rare frog species, she can be found with her farmer husband on their sheep and beef station, far from civilization. Alongside them, they have 2 cats, 9 chickens, and 11 dogs (most notably, her sidekick, a black Labrador aptly named Jellybean). Sophie enjoys her writing career as it provides opportunities to help and support pet owners of all kinds to give animals the best welfare possible. The only downside is the long list of strange searches in her internet history!

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