Does your cat have a bad case of dandruff? Dandruff and dry skin problems can leave your cat feeling itchy and uncomfortable, not to mention increasing the spread of dander and shedding in your home. Keep your cat happy and healthy with our top cat dandruff solutions.
Why does my cat have dandruff? As it turns out, cat dry skin and dandruff is persistent and can lead to more serious skin problems if you don't find the cause and treat it. Your cat's delicate skin can be affected by a variety of internal and external factors, so no one treatment will work for all cat dandruff.
While a quick wash with Head and Shoulders might work for your dandruff, treating your cat's dandruff may require a little more effort. Find out more about what's causing your cat's dandruff, and how to rejuvenate her beautiful skin and coat to its former glory, natural oils and all.
What is Cat Dandruff and Why Does My Cat Have Dandruff?
To help you rid your cat of dry, flaky skin problems, we first need to look at what it is and what’s causing it. So, what is cat dandruff?
We use the term dandruff pretty loosely. It can range from mild flaky skin to irritating sores and rashes. More serious cases of dandruff are usually caused by Seborrhea, which is when the Sebaceous glands in their skin that produce protective, natural oils, start to produce way too much. From dandruff on cats' back near the tail to their tender bellies - dandruff and skin problems can pop up almost anywhere.
This can be identified by a greasy or oil appearance to the dandruff and skin. Over-production of these natural oils can interfere with natural shedding, alters the pH balance of their skin, and create an ideal environment for bacteria or fungus to produce. Talk to your vet to diagnose and manage this condition safely.
More commonly, what we refer to as dandruff is simply patches of dry skin. Dry skin tends to be itchy, but will not produce the same extreme symptoms as Seborrhea if treated properly. Further skin problems can be caused by your cat scratching, licking, or over-grooming the areas to try to soothe their itch and discomfort.
If your cat's skin is showing signs of dandruff, it's important to find out what you can do to condition and support her skin to prevent symptoms from worsening skin problems.
5 Cat Dandruff Solutions
To help reduce symptoms and lessen discomfort, there are some things you can do from home to help treat your cat’s dandruff. Let’s look at the 5 most common causes and solutions for ditching cat dandruff:
When dealing with any type of dry skin, it’s always more effective to treat the skin from the inside out. Cats notoriously drink very little water compared to what they need.
In the wild, cats would get most of their moisture from their food. As many domesticated cats eat dry kibble diets, it’s common for them to live in a state of mild dehydration for a long time.
This lack of moisture can cause dry skin, limit healthy oil production, and contribute to inflammation that can cause itchiness.
You can try encouraging them to drink more by switching from a boring old water dish to a filtered fountain. Check out all the benefits of Cat Water Fountains.
If this doesn't work, try to find ways to add more liquid to your cat’s diet. Try incorporating wet foods, switch to a raw diet, or add water, bone broth, or goat’s milk to your cat’s regular meals. Many of these can be fed as a side dish, or even as a treat, too.
The texture is important to cats, so you may have to try a few methods until you find which ones your cat appreciates. She may not appreciate the watery texture of bone broth, but a thick pate style wet food may just wet her whistle.
The quality of your cat’s food can have a drastic effect on how their bodies are able to digest and use nutrients. Poor quality foods, foods cooked at extreme temperatures, and those that use heavily rendered ingredients offer limited nutrition compared to whole, natural, and minimally processed ingredients.
High heat cooking methods and ingredients that have been rendered down to pieces of the original food product are often lacking nutrition. These deficiencies can quickly influence skin and coat health.
Look for foods that use fresh, real food ingredients. Raw is a great example of a high-quality diet that offers highly digestible nutrients to support all the systems in your cat’s body.
If raw isn’t your thing, then look for foods that limit synthetic additives, and offer nutrition from nutrient-dense ingredients like fresh meats, organs, and produce. Try to avoid carb-heavy diets for cats. After all, they are carnivores and are best at getting nutrients from animal protein.
Here are a few of our favourite natural brands for cats:
Another way to promote healthier skin and coat and reduce cat dandruff and dander is to look for foods that add fish oils and other omega 3 fatty acids. You can also add them yourself, too. Look for wild-caught fish oils like salmon, cod liver, and sardines.
Cats are generally meticulous groomers, but you can help by brushing your cat regularly. Brushing helps to remove dead fur and skin. Regular brushing also massages the skin, stimulating blood flow and encouraging appropriate oil production from their sebaceous glands.
Bathing is required much less frequently in cats than in dogs. This is partially because dogs often don’t mind being a little dirty, but also because cats have more sensitive skin. Over bathing your cat can limit healthy oil production and alter their skin’s pH balance.
Most cats enjoy being brushed, so it’s often a quick and stress-free routine. Try to brush your cat a couple of times per week with a simple slicker brush for best results.
Avoid bathing your cat too frequently. Aim for no more than once every 6 weeks unless it’s necessary. If you do need to bath or spot clean, stick to just warm water and a pinch of baking soda. Many shampoos have fragrances and chemicals that can further dry their skin.
Cats are very sensitive to their environments. Skin and coat issues are often exacerbated by chemicals and poor air quality. Things like cigarette smoke, chemical cleaners, air fresheners, and even perfumes can irritate their skin.
Humidity is also a factor. Just like our own skin, seasonal changes and extreme climates can upset your cat’s sensitive skin. Heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, and hot arid climates all suck moisture from your cat.
Avoid using harsh chemicals around your cat and make sure your house is well ventilated. An air purifier is an excellent option for small spaces, especially over winter when our windows stay closed 24/7.
If your home is very dry, then look at getting a humidifier to help put some moisture back into your cat’s environment. This can help to eliminate cat dandruff and aid in maintaining their body temperature.
Your cat’s dandruff might not be related to their health at all. Talk to your vet to make sure your cat isn’t being plagued by some unwelcome intruders that are causing her skin issues. Pest activity and debris can sometimes be mistaken for dandruff.
Fleas and ticks are the most common pests, and the easiest to spot. Talk to your vet to help identify pest activity at the earliest signs. Other pests you should talk to your vet about include lice and mites. The good news is you can easily protect your pets from most of these pests with products like Bayer Advantage II.
One of the more disturbing and icky pests that is commonly mistaken for dandruff is called Cheyletiella Mites. They are commonly referred to as walking dandruff. They are larger than typical mites and tend to cause lots of flaky skin. They move around on the surface of your cat’s skin, which gives the skin flakes the appearance of movement. Hence the nickname.
It’s important to regularly check your cat for signs of infestation. Routine grooming and regular vet check-ups can help you catch problems early and treat them quickly. Be preventative when it comes to pests. Some flea and tick treatments can help to deter infestations year-round.
Here are a few helpful resources to help you keep a lookout for pest activity:
- How Do I Know if My Cat has Fleas?
- How to Identify and Treat Cat Lice: What is that on my cat?
- How to Spot Ticks on Cats
- Walking Dandruff in Cats
There are a lot of reasons your cat might have dandruff, but with the right treatment, you should be able to get back your cat’s beautiful, luxurious coat. Just remember:
- Cats need more liquid in their diet than you think. Get creative and find more ways to moisten up her food.
- Stick to natural foods with real ingredients. They offer the most usable nutrients to support your cat’s skin and coat.
- Cats are natural groomers, so for the most part, try not to interfere with her regular bathing rituals.
- Brushing away dead skin and fur will have a positive effect.
- Cats need fresh air. Try to avoid polluting her air with chemicals and smoke.
- Check for pests every time you brush her, and make sure you talk to your vet about preventative treatments for pest control.
Now that you know why your cat has dandruff, you can start to treat it. Correcting imbalances in their skin takes time, so give each change or treatment a chance to work. If dandruff symptoms are getting worse, then it’s time to ask the vet for advice.
Does your cat suffer from dandruff? Let us know your tips for ditching cat dandruff in the comments below!