Cat Dandruff: Why It Happens and How to Treat It

April 16, 2021

 You may have noticed that your cat has been scratching and licking themselves more often than usual, and as a good pet owner, you’re likely concerned.

What Is Cat Dandruff?

Itchy skin can come from a number of different conditions, and fortunately, many of them are easy to treat at home.

It can be difficult to tell if you’re not looking closely, but if your cat seems to be more itchy than usual, he or she may simply have a case of dandruff. While it comes as a surprise to a lot of pet owners, almost any creature can have dandruff occasionally. It’s common, and though it’s a little uncomfortable and unsightly, it’s not dangerous and can be treated either with veterinarian-prescribed medication or by using natural remedies at home.

Do Cats Have Dandruff?

You may be wondering “can cats get dandruff?” The truth is, almost any creature with fur, hair or feathers can get dandruff. All that dandruff is, is an excess of shedding skin that can cause major irritation.

No doubt, you are most likely wondering “how to get rid of cat dandruff?” Here’s a quick guide on possible solutions for you and your furry friend.

Why Does My Cat Have Dandruff?

If you notice that your cat has dandruff, it’s natural to worry and wonder how this condition came about.

There are several causes of cat dandruff, and most of them have very little to do with the cat’s owner. Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong. Your pet may have developed cat dandruff in one of the following ways.

Benign Causes

  • Your cat’s diet has recently changed.If you have recently changed brands and started feeding your cat a new type of food, your pet may be missing key nutrients that he or she needs for healthy skin. Subpar nutrition can lead to cat shedding and dandruff.
  • The season has changed. If the weather has become hotter due to a seasonal change, your cat’s skin may have become dryer than usual. Drying of the skin can trigger cat dandruff.
  • Your cat isn’t drinking enough water.Water is essential when it comes to maintaining skin health. If your cat is dehydrated, his or her skin will become dry and flaky.
  • Your cat has environmental allergies. If you have recently moved, started using a new laundry detergent, or you’ve introduced your cat to any new bedding, he or she may be allergic to some element in the environment.
  • Your cat has anxiety. Anxiety can cause skin issues, both in animals and people. If your cat has been under a lot of stress (new pet in the house, moving, giving birth, etc.), the symptoms may manifest as cat dandruff.

Serious Causes

  • Your cat has gained substantial weight. If your cat has put on quite a bit of weight in a short span of time, his or her skin may become tighter and dryer because it has not been able to stretch in order to accommodate the weight gain.
  • Your cat has developed a skin infection. Your cat may have gotten into something in the environment that has irritated his or her skin. Infections can sometimes make the skin dry out and become flaky.
  • Your cat has a parasite.There are several external parasites that can cause your cat’s skin to become dry and shed more often. Mites and fleas are common causes of dandruff in cats.
  • Your cat has diabetes. Feline diabetes can be hard to pinpoint, but one of the common side effects of diabetes is skin issues. If you’re concerned about feline diabetes being behind your cat’s dandruff, see your veterinarian.
  • Your cat has cheyletiellosis. This is a severe type of dandruff that is caused by tiny mites attacking the skin. This condition needs to be treated by a veterinarian.

Is That Cat Dandruff or Flea Eggs?

Dandruff on cats can sometimes be mistaken for flea eggs which are also white and small. Flea eggs are round and oval-shaped, while dandruff is irregular in shape.

Flea eggs aren’t sticky, often falling off. Dandruff accumulates in your pets fur and will be very noticeable if your pet isn’t clean. Flea eggs are also accompanied by dark specks of flea feces, also known as flea dirt.

When it comes to black cat dandruff or dandruff on any darker fur, it can be difficult to tell. Make sure to make this distinction before settling on “my cat has dandruff.”

Cat Dander vs. Dandruff

Dandruff in cats should not be mistaken for cat dander. Dander is a normal amount of skin that most pets shed. While it can sometimes lead to allergic reactions in humans, dander doesn’t have an adverse effect on the health of the animal.

Dandruff irritates your pet’s skin, making them itch and sometimes leading to the cracking of the skin. There is no way to stop the production of dander, but there’s a lot that can be done when it comes to how to treat cat dandruff.

What Are the Symptoms of Cat Dandruff?

Dandruff can be hard to notice, especially in cats with longer coats, but there are a few signs and symptoms of dandruff on cats that can help you narrow down the possibilities.

  • Your cat has white flecks on his or her fur.These white flecks may shed onto bedding or clothing and may be more noticeable if it stays on the fur of darker colored felines.
  • Your cat grooms more frequently than usual. This may include scratching or licking.
  • Your cat sheds more often. Dandruff can result in some shedding of the fur, which can cause the occasional bald patch to develop.
  • Your cat’s skin appears dry.If you spread the fur to look at your cat’s skin, the surface of the skin may appear dry and patchy, or red and inflamed.
  • Your cat just “seems” uncomfortable. If your cat is normally very docile and lounges about the house, he or she may seem more irritable and may spend more time trying to get comfortable.

How to Get Rid of Cat Dandruff

So, we know now that the answer to “can cats have dandruff?” is yes. So naturally, the question is, “how to get rid of it?”

Cats are thought to be able to handle their own cleanliness, and it’s no secret to any cat owner that cats can be pretty uncooperative when it comes to bathing them. However, it is not impossible to give your cat the help it needs.

Cat Dandruff Remedies

If you’re worried that your cat has dandruff, and he or she is often stressed when attending vet appointments, you’ll be pleased to find out that there are many cat dandruff treatments that you can use at home. Unless your cat’s dandruff is severe or does not get better after home treatments, you can often forego the veterinary office visit.

  • Keep a regular grooming routine.Not only does routine brushing help you bond with your cat, but it can also remove dirt, dead skin, and loose hair, which will help to treat cat dandruff.
  • Reduce your cat’s stress.It may seem like cats have nothing to be stressed about, but a cat is a naturally alert creature. Do what you can to keep the cat’s environment calm and predictable.
  • Moisturize your cat’s skin. You can use natural, cat-specific moisturizers to introduce more moisture to your cat’s skin and reduce dandruff.
  • Keep your cat hydrated.Ensure that your cat’s water bowl is always clean and full of water.
  • Limit your cat’s sun exposure. If your cat goes outdoors sometimes, try to keep them inside on hot days to prevent his or her skin from drying too much.
  • Keep a humidifier in your home. This will keep the air from becoming too dry in your home. The moisture in the air will likely help your cat’s skin condition.
  • Give your cat a bath.You can use dandruff-specific or dry skin shampoo to help increase the moisture in your cat’s skin and remove potential irritants.
  • Give your cat supplements. To help cat dandruff, you may want to give your cat skin and coat-related supplements as directed.
  • Change your cat’s diet. If possible, try giving your cat a food type that is designed to provide balanced nutrition and promote skin health.
  • Treat your cat for parasites. This last step may involve seeing a vet in order to determine whether your pet has a parasite. If your cat has fleas or mites, treat the condition with medication.

10 Best FAQ About Cat Dandruff

Cat owners often have many questions when it comes to cat dandruff, so let us cover the ten most commonly asked questions about cats with dandruff and provide short, simple answers to those questions.

    1. Is my cat’s dandruff serious?
      Usually no, cat dandruff isn’t serious or life-threatening. However, if your cat’s dandruff won’t go away no matter what you do, it may be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition.
    2. Is dandruff on cats normal?                                                Dandruff on cats is not uncommon and can develop due to very benign causes like seasonal changes, food allergies, and stress.
    3. Can dandruff be black?                                                                Cat dandruff is white, regardless of the color of your cat’s skin. Black flecks may be dried blood, fleas, or mites.
    4. How do cats get dandruff?
      Dandruff develops when the skin becomes dry and irritated. When it is too dry, skin flecks tend to shed.
    5. Do I need to see a vet for cat dandruff?
      Cat dandruff can usually be treated at home, but if your cat appears sick or the dandruff becomes persistent or severe, it may be time to see your pet’s doctor.
    6. What is “walking dandruff”?
      Walking dandruff is another term for Cheyletiellosis, a highly contagious type of mite infestation that causes severe dandruff in cats.
    7. Can ringworm cause dandruff?
      Yes, ringworm can cause dandruff, and because it is a contagious fungal infection, it needs to be isolated and treated immediately.
    8. Can cat dandruff affect people?
      Can dandruff alone cannot spread to people, but the mites and infections that sometimes cause dandruff are often zoonotic (including fleas, Cheyletiellosis, and ringworm).
    9. My cat hates baths. How can I treat his or her dandruff?         Try some of the easier treatment methods before resorting to baths, and if necessary, contact a professional groomer for help (be honest about the cat’s symptoms).
    10. Should I be worried?
      It’s understandable to worry about your cat, but most of the time, dandruff is not serious and can be treated easily. However, if you’re concerned, the best bet is to visit your pet’s veterinarian.

    Conclusion

    Cat dandruff can be a bothersome issue for both cats and their owners, but most of the time, cat dandruff can be treated via diet management, a grooming routine, and the use of natural supplements and skin products that are designed to help moisturize a cat’s skin.

    If your cat has dandruff, it’s important to try pinpointing the cause of the issue. This way, you can take steps toward treating the issue and improving your cat’s overall health.

    Keep an eye out for long-lasting, severe dandruff, and if treatment at home does not rid your cat of mild to moderate dandruff, speak with your veterinary doctor so that you can better determine the cause and correct treatment method for your cat’s dandruff.