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What Causes Dandruff in Cats and How Can You Get Rid Of It?

What Causes Dandruff in Cats and How Can You Get Rid Of It?

If you notice your cat has flaky skin, it may be dandruff.

A mere bath will not work, though. Especially if there is an underlying condition that causes flaky skin. So, what is cat dandruff, and what is it not? We will learn about it on today's blog.

Cat Dander vs. Cat Dandruff

a tabby cat scratching its nape because of cat dandruff

In truth, cat dandruff is a little bit of a misnomer. "Dandruff" is simply a term referring to flakes on the skin, but it has a lot of causes.

Although seemingly comparable, cat dandruff is different from dander. Feline dander is a normal and healthy shedding of skin cells.

Dander is also frequently mistaken for a culprit in triggering an allergic reaction in people. However, the critical irritant is the cat's saliva, transferred to the skin and hair when cats groom themselves.

What Causes Cat Dandruff?

a ginger tabby cat in a field of grass scratching itself

Dandruff develops for several reasons. Here are some: 

Dehydration. Cats need water—around one ounce per pound of body weight daily. If your cat is not well hydrated, it can trigger dandruff in the skin and other skin infections. For instance, an arid environment—an overheated home in the winter season—can also create skin dryness.

Grooming Issues. If you see flakes or hair clumps just near the base of the tail and the lower back, your feline might not have the ability to get to these areas to groom correctly. This concern is common in obese cats because they can groom themselves and remove dead skin cells is limited.

Absence of fats in their diet. Cats need a balanced diet to continue being healthy. If you have a kibble-only diet, they might not get enough nutrition and hydration from their food. Like omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil is also essential to keep a healthy skin, so if your cat's diet does not have these necessary nutrients, this may be the source of their dandruff.

Many cats have undiagnosed food allergies that cause skin conditions, such as dandruff and inflammation. If your cat shows indications of a food allergy, like consisting of scratching, biting at their skin, looseness of the bowels, vomiting, and other stomach issues, call your vet.

Seasonal allergies. Springtime and summer affect us humans, especially those allergic to plant pollen. Felines also deal with plant pollen or seasonal allergic reactions. Occasionally, your kitten will sneeze or cough, have watery eyes and discharge from the nose. Contact allergies can also damage your cat's skin. These irritants include soap, hair shampoo, fabric softener, and other chemically based items.

Possible health problems. Cat dandruff can sometimes have underlying health issues, like parasites such as fleas that cause damage to the wellness of your cat's skin and layer. These parasites make life uncomfortable for your cat, but you can get rid of them through monthly preventatives. Check your cat for parasite symptoms, and don't wait. It is also important to note the difference between an occasional flaky skin episode from a chronic dry skin. Consult your vet to eliminate possible health issues and find the best treatment.

What are the Signs of Cat Dandruff?

a ginger tabby cat atop concrete scratching itself

With its telltale tiny, white flakes, feline dandruff is easy to spot on your cat's hair, furniture, and cat beds. Felines with dandruff might scratch more than usual.

Get in touch with your vet if any of the following accompanies your cat's half-cracked skin. These symptoms can suggest an infection or other health conditions needing medical attention:

  • Hair loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Frequent grooming
  • Redness of the skin
  • Lethargy or signs that your cat is feeling unwell

How to Get Rid of Cat Dandruff?

a white and black cat scratching atop a grass

As soon as your feline has a clean bill of medical health and there is no underlying cause to worry about, what can you do to get rid of these flakes? 

  • Ensure your cat gets enough moisture in their diet and is drinking lots of water. If your cat likes running water, consider getting a cat water fountain to urge them to drink more. Introducing wet food into your cat's diet is another simple means to increase hydration and boost their skin condition.
  • Feed your feline an excellent diet, and add a scoop of wet food to the mix if they only consume dry food.
  • Have your cat professionally groomed once every few months and bathe them biweekly using a hair special shampoo that is made for cats with dry skin.
  • Get a suitable grooming brush and frequently comb your feline's hair. This can help to disperse natural skin oils throughout your feline's coat.
  • Keep them on a month-to-month flea as well as tick medication.
  • Use a humidifier to add dampness to the air.
  • Change to cat-friendly cleaners and detergents that use plant-based, harmless products
  • Help your cat keep a healthy weight. A cat's total wellness affects their skin, and cats can groom themselves effectively when they're in shape.

Most of the time, feline dandruff is a benign problem for a cat. Fortunately, other pets don't judge them for flaky skin and their coat health, so if your vet gives your cat a clean bill of health, dandruff is not something that you should worry a lot about.

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