If your cat spends some time outdoors, they might come home dirty at times. Even indoor cats have been known to get into messes that might be hard to clean off them (or for them to clean off themselves, despite the five plus hours they spend grooming themselves each day, according to the SPCA). At times like these, you might be wondering, can I use baby wipes on my cat?
The short answer is no, you can’t use baby wipes on your cat. Baby wipes contain ingredients that are unpleasant, and may even be harmful, to cats. There are other, safer ways that you can help keep your cat clean. In this article, we will look at why baby wipes are bad for cats and what are some other ways that you can help to keep your cat clean.
Will Baby Wipes Hurt My Cat?
Because of their mild ingredients designed to be safe for a human baby’s skin, baby wipes won’t actually cause your cat pain when applied to their skin or fur. However, you can’t be sure that, after you use a baby wipe on your cat’s fur, your cat won’t turn around and lick that area that you just used the wipe on, thereby ingesting whatever ingredients are in the wipe. This will definitely be detrimental to your cat.
You might be thinking, “Can’t I just use a baby wipe to wipe my cat’s butt quickly, especially if she’s had a messy poo or diarrhea?” The answer is still no. We all know how obsessively cats lick their back ends. This means that they will inevitably ingest whatever ingredients are on their back ends, including those transferred from a baby wipe. Cats will usually clean themselves adequately, and, if they don’t and you still feel the need to use a wipe, turn to one of the pet-safe wipes we discuss below. A moistened paper towel can also be of use in these types of sticky situations.
What Ingredients Make Baby Wipes Bad for Cats?
Unscented baby wipes are still bad for your cat. It’s not only the scent of the baby wipes, but the ingredients that are found in all baby wipes, that are potentially harmful to your cat. Most baby wipes contain the following ingredients that can be quite harmful to cats:
- Citric acid: We all know that cats abhor anything citrus scented or citrus tasting. This is a sort of defense mechanism built into their bodies, as consuming citrus oils is actually poisonous for cats. A baby wipe wouldn’t have enough citric acid to poison your cat, but it is still something your cat will not like and that could even make them sick.
- PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil: Castor oil is a safe ingredient for cats that is often used to treat constipation in both dogs and cats. The laxative effect of castor oil, however, is likely something you wish to avoid if you are contemplating using baby wipes on your cat. You don’t need to encourage defecation if your cat already has diarrhea!
- Sodium citrate: This ingredient is another laxative that is often used to treat constipation in cats. Again, it is not something your cat needs if you are already thinking of using a wipe on them to clean up a mess resulting from diarrhea.
- Aloe vera: There are certain parts of the aloe vera plant that are safe for cats. However, you can’t be sure that the aloe vera used in baby wipes is the same aloe vera used in pet wipes. The ASPCA lists aloe on its list of plants that are toxic to pets. In particular, pets should avoid the outer edge of the aloe vera plant which contains a white sap called latex (which is toxic to animals). It makes sense to purchase pet wipes that are specifically designed for pets so that you can be sure you are not getting the toxic part of the aloe vera plant in your cat’s wipes.
What Wipes Should I Use on My Cat?
Luckily, there are some good alternatives to baby wipes if you feel the need to use wipes on your cat. A variety of pet-safe grooming wipes can be found on Amazon.com. They include:
- Petkin Petwipes Big ‘n Thick Extra Large Pet Wipes for Dogs and Cats- These extra-large, heavy duty wipes are designed to remove daily dirt and odor from dogs and cats. They are gentle enough to use around pet eyes and ears, and are veterinarian-approved.
- Prime Pets Cat Dog Wipes – These pet wipes for dogs and cats are fragrance-free and designed as portable grooming wipes for face, butt, eyes, ears, paws, teeth and cleaning. One wipe does it all.
- Burt’s Bees for Cats Natural Dander Reducing Wipes – If the main problem you want to combat by using wipes on your cat is dander, these wipes are perfect for the job. They are sulfate and paraben free, and pH balanced just for cats.
Why Would I Need to Use Wipes on My Cat?
In reality, your cat shouldn’t usually be so dirty that you would feel the need to use wipes on them on a daily basis. Yes, cats can occasionally get into messes, but if your cat is sick enough to have messy diarrhea that they can’t clean off themselves, it might be time to see the veterinarian. If your cat has stopped grooming themselves, it’s also time for a vet visit to rule out any medical conditions. Per Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, cats commonly spend 30 to 50 percent of their day grooming themselves. When a cat stops grooming, you know something is wrong with them.