Feline dandruff is common in cats, leading to dry and irritated skin. You’ll see visible white flakes in your cat’s fur and dander, an evident sign of dandruff. It can trigger several other health conditions and related ailments if left untreated.
In this article, I’ll be scratching deep into the causes of cat dandruff, the ways you can get rid of it, and all related queries, so you don’t have to search for their answer elsewhere.
What Is Cat Dandruff?
Dandruff can range from your pet having mild, flaky skin to severe cases like Seborrhea, where the skin produces excess oils, triggering dandruff production. While it goes unnoticed at first, you’ll start seeing big patches of dry skin flakes on the cat’s body that will increase in size and severity over time.
Most new cat owners confuse cat dander with dandruff, but they aren’t the same. While cat dander is nothing to worry about, having dandruff with excessive flaking and hair loss is an issue that needs to be addressed to reduce the symptoms or prevent dandruff from developing in the first place.
Causes and Symptoms of Cat Dandruff
Changes in your cat’s diet, low humidity levels, and extreme weather conditions are common causes of flaky skin. While dry skin increases dandruff, if your cat’s skin produces too much oil, it can build up dead skin cells and dander, which looks like flaky skin.
Other diseases that turn healthy skin into skin flakes include arthritis and obesity. So, immediately removing dandruff is imperative whether your cat’s coat is dry or oily. Some other causes include:
- A poor diet lacking essential nutrients can dry the skin, aggravating the dandruff problem. The nutrients required in a cat’s diet include enough carbs, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and good fatty acids like omega-3.
- Following a poor grooming routine for most cats, especially obese cats, increases dandruff production.
- An underlying problem with their digestive systems, allergies, or diseases like hyperthyroidism and diabetes can significantly contribute to increasing dandruff.
- Skin elasticity in your cat decreases over time. A young cat will have supple skin, whereas older ones will have drier skin, increasing the risk of dandruff.
- A skin condition resembling dandruff can develop in cats suffering from food allergies.
- There are many symptoms of cat dandruff:
- While mild dandruff doesn’t produce redness, you’ll see clear red patches that become irritated in severe cases.
- Flaky skin is present on the fur, skin, and home furnishings.
- Your cat will develop itchy skin and suffer from hair loss; hair loss becomes evident.
- Excessive grooming might become necessary to keep the flakes and loose hair at bay, but too much can exacerbate the problem.
- The skin becomes thick and worn out.
- The skin can become red and inflamed, leading to further skin infections.
- Your cat will be low on energy and will feel unwell.
- It will scratch its skin on areas of dandruff production. Excessive scratching can also lead to skin infections and bleeding.
Ignoring these symptoms is never wise, as several of the symptoms listed here can result from other underlying diseases you might not be familiar with. The best approach here is to stop experimenting and book a visit to the vet to treat cat dandruff effectively.
Examining Cat Dandruff
Dandruff on the skin stays clumped and resembles flakes or scales. For a new cat owner, it might be challenging to differentiate between dandruff or other skin conditions that cause the skin to turn dry and flaky. Therefore, getting your pet checked by a certified veterinarian for effective results is best.
Typically, veterinarians check for feline skin infections to rule out these diseases. For example, a skin mite infestation from the Cheyletiella mite, also known as walking dandruff, leads to flaky and dry skin as these mites feed on sloughed skin while the mite mimics the appearance of a scale or skin flake.
Fungal infections in cats also develop symptoms similar to dandruff. Common conditions include ringworm and Malassezia.
If there’s hair loss and flaky skin in specific areas of the cat’s fur, it might have a fungal infection and should be examined by a vet. In addition, several other pest infestations can be mistaken for cat dandruff, as the symptoms appear similar.
It’s easy to identify common mites, ticks, and flea infestations with a skin health examination by your vet. In addition, the vet check ensures the cat’s skin is examined correctly, making it easier to administer the right veterinary medicine or implement a proper grooming routine.
Ways To Prevent Dandruff in Your Cat
Some ways to prevent dandruff include:
Brushing your cat is effective in reducing dandruff. Remember to gently brush your cat daily with a soft-bristled brush to remove those white dandruff flakes and loose hair, and then make it a habit of massaging the cat’s skin to improve blood circulation and skin health.
It also aids in evenly spreading the natural oils produced by the skin, preventing dandruff. Maintaining a regular brushing routine keeps the cat’s coat clean and shiny.
Regular bathing can make your cat’s skin healthy and remove dandruff from the surface. However, too much bathing can make dandruff worse. Consult with your vet for the best advice.
Instead of using a regular shampoo, opt for a moisturizing or a dandruff shampoo to prevent the skin from drying. These shampoos have fish oils and other moisturizing substances that soften the skin, reduce flakiness, and treat dandruff.
Cats don’t need much bathing; bathing them once every six weeks is more than sufficient. To clean them without bathing, use a damp cloth soaked in warm water and add a pinch of baking soda.
Maintaining a Healthy Diet
A balanced and highly nutritious diet is imperative for your cat’s health and well-being. Several types of diets and supplements are available that make the skin healthy. Always discuss supplements with your vet before introducing them to your cat.
They have a high protein content and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, linoleic acid and arachnoid acid are also essential fats for your pet’s health and skin.
- Look for these substances and incorporate them slowly into its diet. Switching between dry and wet diets can also let you know which diet effectively reduces dandruff. However, if you don’t know which foods can improve your cat’s health, consult a pet nutritionist or research which foods are best for its skin.
- Besides providing a healthy diet, ensure your kitty stays hydrated. While most of them drink a little water daily, providing them with water from a fresh and clean source is imperative. Keep its water bowl clean at all times, and replace the bowl’s water regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria.
- You can also introduce wet food to the diet to keep your pet hydrated. If your pet is on a dry food diet, slowly change its diet to ensure it doesn’t lose interest in eating timely meals.
- Food allergies are another reason for cats to develop dandruff. Certain grain extracts and proteins in canned cat food are common sources of cat food allergens.
Researching the ingredients can reveal the substances triggering the allergy, which can be avoided or switched for a similar nutrient.
Keeping Your Cat Indoors
If you have an active cat, sunburn from roaming outside or extremely hot or cold environments can dry the skin. So limit its outdoor activities and start working on hygiene and care for better outcomes.
Reducing Your Cats Stress
Skin dryness, inflammation, and itching can be triggered when your cat is experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. Bringing a new pet home, moving to a new location, and other environmental changes are common reasons it will develop stress.
Here’s what you can do to reduce these high anxiety levels.
- Provide it with a safe and familiar space to hide when agitated.
- Make an interactive platform for it to climb and play with toys.
- Work on its behavior through positive reinforcement learning.
If you have tried the methods mentioned above and your cat still exhibits signs of stress, contact your veterinarian for a health checkup, as cats are good at hiding their illnesses. On the other hand, it could be something simple causing stress and anxiety that your vet can help resolve.
Antimicrobial Sprays for Cats
While these sprays have potent antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, they also effectively reduce inflammation and itching in irritated skin.
Olive Oil Massage Your Cat To Reduce Dandruff
Giving your cat an olive oil massage is an excellent way to reduce dandruff, as the essential oils, vitamin E, and antioxidants nourish the skin, reduce dryness, and cleanse the pores. Here are the steps to take when giving your cat a relaxing massage:
- Take four tablespoons of oil in a container and heat it for a few seconds in the microwave until it becomes warm and seeps into the skin, providing deep moisturization.
- Dip your fingers in warm olive oil and gently start massaging the skin and fur.
- Identify the areas with the most dandruff and add extra oil for the best results. Then, leave the oil there for at least 15 minutes and wipe it off.
You can repeat this massage three times a week
Maintaining Humidity Levels for Your Cat
During the colder months, indoor humidity decreases, quickly drying the skin. In addition, the natural oils released from the skin also reduce, increasing dryness.
An indoor humidifier adds moisture to the air and prevents the skin from drying up. You can also put a water bowl near the fireplace to maintain adequate humidity indoors through evaporation.
Maintaining Your Cats Weight
If your feline friend is suffering from obesity, tweak its food and introduce a play/exercise routine to promote weight loss. Obesity in cats is linked with several other medical diseases that, in severe cases, can become life-threatening.
Most cats follow a self-grooming routine where they lick off loose hair, dirt, or grime from the short fur during self-cleaning. However, overweight cats find it harder to follow this routine, as they can’t reach every area of their coat due to increased weight.
Using Cat Skin Conditioners To Prevent Flaky Skin
You can always add fish oil to your cat’s meals to keep its skin healthy, and using a moisturizer specifically for cat skin will help. Always use a quality skin moisturizer and rub it in to completely nourish the skin, paying attention to any parts that are dry or have flakes.
Olive oil is a natural alternative to moisturizers that improves blood circulation and reduces skin dryness and dandruff. In addition, it’ll soften the cat’s skin, soothing your pet. Alternatively, cold-pressed coconut oil can also make the skin healthy.
Probiotics for Your Cat
Sometimes, mild indigestion issues will lead to poor nutrient absorption. Over time, this scarcity of nutrients will affect the skin’s health, making it dry and flaky.
Talk to the Vet About Your Cats Dandruff
If your cat is showing symptoms of dandruff or has evident changes on the coat, it’s best to visit your cat’s vet for practical analysis and treatment.
Talking to the vet is crucial as several diseases resemble dandruff but are a far more significant concern to address. They will closely examine the cat for any underlying issues triggering the symptoms.
They will ensure the cat is not suffering from diseases like diabetes, arthritis, ringworm infestation, etc., and provide treatment accordingly. Even if it looks active and healthy, you must visit your vet whenever you see any symptoms.
Final Thoughts on Cat Dandruff
While your vet will aid in identifying the visible symptoms and provide the required treatment, the responsibility is yours to provide your kitty with a balanced diet, take care of its cleanliness, and give it its meds on time to resolve the dandruff issues effectively.
Keep your cat active, feed balanced meals, and spend time with it to reduce stress. Show it love and care, and you will reduce the likelihood of dandruff!
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