Feline Dandruff: Causes And Effective Treatments

Feline Dandruff

Feline dandruff is a common and treatable skin condition. Dandruff in cats usually indicates that your cat is lacking moisture either in their environment, food or is a manifestation of an underlining medical problem such as diabetes.

First It’s important to distinguish between dandruff, the flaky white skin one finds on a cat’s (or human’s) coat, and dander, the regular shedding of skin by cats.

Dander occurs when your cat’s healthy skin sheds dead skin cells, and is both a normal and natural process.


Feline dandruff has several very clear and distinct symptoms.

  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Red, Inflamed Skin
  • Increased scratching
  • White pieces of flakes
  • Greyish pieces of flakes


There are several different causes of feline dandruff. Cats sometimes develop dandruff due to their skin not getting enough moisture from their food, environment or their not drinking enough. This lack of moisture results in very dry skin which eventually flakes.

Most cats love to sun tan in the warm sunlight, however long exposure to sunlight can result in sunburns, especially around the ears, on top of the head and nose, which can cause very dry flaky skin. Since they haven’t invented sun block for cats, yet, it’s important to limit the amount of time your cat spends exposed to direct sunlight. Even when fresh water is made available, cats just don’t drink enough water. Since their bodies depends on the water they consume to keep their skin healthy and moist, cats that do not get enough liquids may experience feline dandruff. A dry food only diet and an improper diet that does not provide enough vitamins and nutrients has also been blamed for the development of dry skin in cats.

Cat health problems such as diabetes in cats and thyroid problems are all possible underlining problems of feline dandruff. These illnesses may cause your cat to excessively urinate, causing their skins to become dry and dehydrated. Feline obesity may also cause feline dandruff. As a result of those extra pounds your cat may experience difficulties grooming, or may not be able to reach certain areas such as their back or tail to groom.

Parasites infections such as ringworms and fleas can also cause feline dandruff in cats. Cheyletiellosis, is a skin disease in cats that may look like cat dandruff, however it is cause by small mites that live on your cat’s skin, which once diagnosed will require treatment by your vet.


If you notice that you cat has dry flaky skin, it’s important to take your cat to the vet, to make sure that the dandruff isn’t a result of a serious health problem. If your cat is on a dry food only diet, you may want to add wet food to their diet. Wet food not only adds the moisture that your cat skin’s needs, but also adds protein. Make sure to buy a premium high quality wet food, not all wet food are created equal. It’s important to make sure that your cat is eating a vitamin and moisture rich balanced diet. Your vet may recommended supplementing your cat’s diet with a supplement rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oils. Brushing your cat daily not only helps to reduce or even eliminate hairballs, it also helps to distribute the natural oils that your cat's body produces, remove the flakes and aids in reducing dry itchy skin.

Using a air humidifier, which you can buy online or at your local department store, also helps to keep your cat’s environment moist and reduce dandruff in cats. Humidifiers are also good for adding moisture into your cat’s skin and are also great for clearing human sinuses, so it never hurts to have one. Your vet may recommend that you give your cat the dreaded cat bath, with a cat approved dandruff shampoo. Keep in mind that once you give your cat a bath with the shampoo, you must be very diligent in making sure that all of the shampoo is removed to prevent additional irritation. To find out how to give your cat a bath visit cat grooming.

If the cause of your cat’s dandruff is due to some extra pounds, you vet may recommend that your cat lose some weight to eliminate the dry itchy skin, and to make it easier for your cat to groom themselves. Placing your cat on a healthy nutritious moisture rich diet with the assistance of your vet, in combination with some exercise by playing with both store bought or homemade cat toys, will help your cat drop those extra pounds and get rid of feline dandruff.

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