Can Cats Get Dandruff?
Estimated Read Time: 5 ½ minutes
Summary: In this blog, we explore and explain dandruff in cats! We’ll discuss whether cats can get dandruff, how it affects cats, how to get rid of cat dandruff, and how to prevent it. Read on to learn more about cat dandruff and what to do about it…
Yes, cats, like their human owners can experience dandruff, and yes, it is quite common.
Dandruff is when dead skin cells that are white and flaky, build upon your cat’s skin and get stuck in their coat. These white flakes may make their way onto your clothes and furniture too, and your cat’s skin may appear dry, inflamed, and/or irritated. They may also begin to groom more and scratch themselves.
Cat dandruff occurs when your cat’s sebaceous glands (responsible for keeping the skin moisturized - just like in humans) start to over-produce sebum (oil). These oils are responsible for nourishing their skin and coat, but when the glands become overactive, it can cause the skin to shed more frequently causing an excess of dead skin cells (dandruff) and can become irritating.
It’s also worth being aware that your cat's skin typically contains a protein that can trigger or exacerbate allergic reactions in humans that have a sensitivity to being around cats, so cat dandruff can make these reactions worse.
A number of reasons can cause a cat to develop dandruff:
If you notice that your cat has dandruff, always get them looked over by a vet to help quickly source the underlying cause. Tell them if you’ve noticed a reduction in their grooming, limping/stiffness, rashes or any other skin irritation like red skin, loss of hair (alopecia) or if their coat seems greasy.
Dandruff in cats can usually be easily resolved. Once you’ve established the underlying issue with your vet (for example, if it’s ringworm or mites, you’ll need a prescribed topical/medicinal treatment), you can then help your cat out in other ways to help their symptoms improve and prevent dandruff from returning.
The most simple way to help your cat with dandruff, is to brush them – particularly if they have weight or mobility issues that are restricting their ability to groom. Regular brushing helps distribute the naturally produced sebum (oil) through their coat and can dislodge flakes and dead hair. If your cat has long hair, try to brush them daily. If they are a short-haired feline, a few times a week should suffice.
Petlab Co Pro Tip: Most cats are very reluctant to be bathed as they are self-grooming animals, but if your cat is really struggling to clean themselves and dandruff is building up, a bath may be an option. Try it with your cat and make sure to use a cat-specific, hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner and rinse thoroughly (leaving product behind can make the situation worse). If your cat begins to show signs of distress (hissing, biting, wriggling), call it quits and try another solution. Perhaps trying just wiping them through with a damp cloth.
Regular flea and worm control is an absolutely vital part of being a responsible pet parent and protecting both your dog and others they come into contact with. Cats can pass on these pesky little parasites to humans, children and deposit their eggs around your house, and believe us when we say this - prevention is SO much easier than trying to remove these tiny bugs once they have established themselves in your home. So, if they’re not already receiving regular anti-parasitic treatments, it’s time to check in with your vet to get your beloved feline friend into the most suitable flea and parasite prevention routine.
Preventative treatments come in tablet form, injection (administered by the vet) or an oily substance applied to the back of their neck (which you can apply yourself) and usually is required every few weeks. Each method deters the fleas from making a home in your cat’s fur and skin.
Fleas are absolutely no fun for both you and your pet to deal with and are also very unhygienic for your home to go through too. Parasites can transmit bacteria, viruses, and other parasites too which is especially important to remember if you have children or immunocompromised people in your household. In addition to this, flea allergies cause extremely unwanted effects on the skin once flea sensitivity has developed, and allowing your cat to live with these on their skin isn’t pleasant for them at all and will require long-term treatment. Prevention is key when deterring a flea or tick infestation!
Humidifying the air in your home if it’s dry, can really help your pet’s skin if they’re suffering with dandruff. Invest in a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air. This will also better the air quality for you and your household’s skin too!
A sign of optimal health is healthy skin - what’s inside really shows on the outside.
So, up the quality of your cat’s food. Many premium brands fortifying their foods with essential minerals and nutrients too. If your cat only eats dry food, your vet may suggest trying wet food as this contains needed moisture and hydration. You should also look at fish oil supplements for cats, as a boost of omega oils 3 & 6 can do wonders for a cat’s skin health. Omega oils contain immune-boosting properties which help reduce the risks associated with parasitic infestation, skin infections, allergic conditions, dandruff, and dry, itchy skin developing. Because it’s an essential fat, it helps lock in the moisture of the skin too which hydrates and soothes, and can keep their coat looking and feeling silky and shiny!