Cat Dandruff: Why It Happens and How to Treat It

April 18, 2019

You may start to notice that your cat has been scratching and licking themselves more often lately. It can be hard to tell if you're not looking closely, but the answer may just be that your cat has dandruff.

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?

 Once you establish that my cat has dandruff, the logical is how do I get rid of it? The first step before beginning a cat dandruff treatment is figuring out what is causing it.

When looking at what causes cat dandruff, the list can be extensive and may be specific to your pet. But, sometimes it can be as simple as diet and dehydration.

Regarding diet, sometimes a change in the kind of food your feeding your kitty can lead to dandruff. If your pet is allergic to a specific ingredient in their new food, it can lead to them having dandruff. A lack of Omega 3 can do the same thing.

Dehydration can have a similar effect. Not drinking enough water or living in a dry place can lead to dry skin and dandruff. If the area is too sunny, a sunburn can cause your cat’s skin to flake.

The environment, as with humans, can play a huge part in your cat’s skin health. Just like we can be allergic and irritated by different cleaning products, plant pollen, or even just specific scents, so can our cat.

The environment your cat tends to interact with can also lead to a parasite or fungal infection. These can lead to a very drastic decline in your cat’s skin health, resulting in patches of no fur as well as dandruff.

When it comes to cat dandruff causes, the list can extend well beyond the one presented here. More severe conditions like feline lymphoma can have dandruff as a symptom, as well as more chronic issues like anxiety.

Don’t let this alarm you -- just because your cat seems to be itching more and has more flaky skin does not mean they have such a severe disease. You know your pet and their habits best. Often cats with dandruff have a much simpler cause for their skin problems.

You would also like to read this: Mange in dogs: what even is it?

Is That Cat Dandruff or Flea Eggs? 

Guide on Cat Dandruff

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.

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

 Knowing what is causing your cat’s skin problem is the first step.

Adding omega 3 and other natural vitamins can help improve the overall health of your cat's skin. Making sure that they have enough water is also important. Giving them wet food and multiple sources of clean water can significantly improve their overall health.

Taking them to the vet to determine if the dandruff is a parasite, mite, or fungal infection is very important. These conditions will require either topical or oral medication.

Sometimes, your vet will prescribe medicated pet shampoo. Cleaning your cat is difficult, so fortunately for you, you’ll only need to do it every few months. Over-bathing your cat can strip the natural oil in their skin and make their condition worse.

My Cat Has Dry Skin and Dandruff: What Should I Do? 

Sometimes your cat just has naturally dry skin. This can exacerbate any other potential causes of dandruff.

Natural cat shampoo, with added oils, can help soothe your cat’s skin and balance it out. When looking for cat shampoo for dandruff, looking for something natural can ensure that no harsh chemicals will cause further damage.