cat grooming

Cat Dandruff: Is It Something to Worry About?

Do you notice little white specks on your cat’s hair that shed around? Does this dust coat all the furniture in your house and is not anywhere near disappearing? Well then, your pet cat might be suffering from the problem of dandruff; and yes, this is a problem that must be addressed promptly.

Cat dandruff is a common problem but it can also be a severe troublesome issue. Mostly it is spotted on the cats’ back at the part which is closer to the tail and not the head and also on the face. In many cases, this is a symptom of a bigger underlying health problem or its side effect. It can also hint skin concerns such as flaky, rough skin and cause irritation and itching. Sometimes these are the causes of severe infections on the cat’s skin. Whatever be the degree of severity of the problem, this feline condition must be fairly addressed.

Difference Between “Dandruff” and “Dander”

Before moving on to the more important parts of this article, this is something necessary to make clear. A lot of times, dandruff and dander are considered to be the same thing and these terms are often used interchangeably. However, this is not the case at all; both are two completely different things.

Dander is the white material that naturally sheds off your cat’s hair. These are the dead skin cells mixed with some amount of dry saliva and are a common feline bodily phenomenon. In fact, dander is what causes some humans to whizz and sneeze in front of cats; it is the substance which causes allergies and a few people react to it due to a certain protein present in it.

On the other hand, dandruff is the white, flaky substance which sheds of your cat’s skin when there might be an underlying skin problem or other related health issues. Although small, it is slightly bigger than dander; this is not a good sign or a normal occurrence. It can be a major or minor issue but either way, it is your responsibility to treat your cat for it.

Symptoms of Cat Dandruff

As cat dandruff can be a severe problem, it is crucial that you familiarize yourself with how to recognize them. By doing so you can take prompt actions as early as possible rather than wait till the problem becomes worse. Some of the symptoms which will help you recognize cat dandruff are:

  • Itching: If your cat is constantly itching its hair then it may be due to dandruff. Dandruff causes itching and irritation and it is one of the main symptoms to detect it.
  • Dry and flaky skin: Dandruff will definitely cause your cat’s skin to deteriorate. As a result, the skin will become very dry and flaky and will shred easily.
  • Greasy Skin: Another contributing factor to poor skin health is greasy skin. Greasy skin for cats is not something normal and you should find out the underlying cause.
  • Bad Odour: The dandruff on your cat’s fur will cause will cause a bad odor to come from its When you smell it you will know instantly that your cat smells funny and strange.
  • Increased Grooming: If you notice your cat grooming unnecessarily or licking its skin more than usual, it may be doing so to ease the irritation caused by dandruff.
  • Loss of hair: If your cat is shedding excessive hair it can be due to dandruff in its fur. Dandruff formed will cause your cat’s fur to turn into a very poor condition.

Causes of Cat Dandruff

Cats can have dandruff due to a variety of reasons, ranging from less severe to worrisome. As a pet owner, you must know these causes and be careful from beforehand and take as many precautions as you can. These reasons are listed below:

  • Skin Parasites: One of the most common reasons for cat dandruff is existing skin problems or skin parasites. A common form of skin parasite is known as demodicosis. Other typical things that cause skin infection or parasites are bugs, mites, fleas, lice and Bites from these can cause other problems and excessive itching.
  • Fungal Infection: Other than parasites and skin infections, your cat may be suffering from fungal infections such as ringworm or malassezia, which is another major cause of cat dandruff. These can cause itchiness and irritation and if left untreated and open pores can worsen the problem a lot more.
  • Health Problems: Dandruff can also be just a symptom on the surface which indicates more severe health issues. Some of these health issues can be glandular disorder or metabolic disorder. A common health problem which cats face is “hyperthyroidism”. You should be careful so that these diseases do not affect your furry friend.
  • Diabetes and Obesity: Obesity is a prime cause of cat dandruff. Obese cats often find it hard to reach certain areas thus they are left uncared for and result in dandruff production. Also, if you notice dandruff along with symptoms of diabetes, your cat may be suffering from feline diabetes which is a major health issue for cats. Check out some of the food options for cats that struggle with feline diabetes.
  • Allergies: Dandruff can also be a result of certain allergies your cat has. These allergies can be of some food, fleas, bugs or even cat products. Sometimes medicines and other products can also cause a chemical reaction. Even a change in diet or a change in daily activities can cause allergies. So you should keep an alert eye on your cat and look out for allergies.
  • Diet: Some specific nutritional deficiencies in your cat’s diet can lead to the problem of dandruff due to skin problems. Omega-3 fats and oils are very important for your cat’s skin health so be sure to add food to your cat’s diet which has plenty of this nutritional supplement.
  • Dehydration: Along with food, insufficient drinking is also another cause that may cause dandruff. Lack of necessary fluids causes an impact on the skin’s health because the skin will become dry which exacerbates the formation of dandruff. Not only insufficient fluid intake, but a dry and dull environment can also be an underlying factor which leads to this.
  • Environment and Season: The surrounding and environment is a major factor that may cause dandruff. A seasonal change, such as fall and winter makes both the weather and the skin of your cat dry due to low humidity. The dry skin then leads to dandruff. Not only during winter, should you also be careful at summer. Extreme heat will cause skin rashes and redness and thus dandruff.
  • Old Age: As your cat grows older, its skin becomes drier and flakier thus it is more prone to get dandruff. Not only does the skin function reduce due to old age, the functionality and effectiveness of blood flow are also affected. This makes the skin patchy and flaky, thus there is creation of dandruff.
  • Lymphoma: This is the deadliest cause of dandruff in cats. When cats suffer from lymphoma, along with many other damages caused and health issues pertained, dandruff is also one of them. Although in this case, dandruff is not the major issue, the cat’s overall health should be taken care of from all perspectives.

cat bath time

Preventing Cat Dandruff

Although there are several reasons that cause dandruff in cats, there are a number of ways to prevent it as well. After all, prevention is better than treatment so better be cautious from the beginning to avoid costs and complications later. Some of the ways in which cat dandruff can be prevented are:

  • Regular Grooming:

Hygiene is very important to a cat’s health. Regular grooming and brushing will help prevent dandruff formation, plus doing so stimulates the skin cells and improves blood circulation. To make things easy, you can set up a regular schedule and time to groom your cat. Once in a while, take it to the pet dresser if you feel your cat has excess hair and needs a trim.

Related Post: Best Cat Brush

  • Bathing and Cleaning

Despite the universal fact that cats loath bathing, it can be required in some cases. Cats are generally very clean animals and keep themselves clean by nature, but for some cats, this is not the case and thus they require a bath once in every couple of months. Also, if suitable you can apply anti-dandruff cat shampoo to it as well. But be careful about not over bathing your cat as this will lead to adverse consequences.

  • Food and Diet

Bringing in changes to your cat’s food and diet can help prevent the formation or recurrence of dandruff. Adding in omega 3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil supplements in your feline friend’s diet is a smart move. If your cat is allergic to a particular food then make sure to eliminate it completely from its daily food intake. As an additional step, you can consider consulting the veterinarian for a proper diet plan for your cat. This can also prevent obesity.

  • Drinking and Hydrating

Hydration is extremely important for your cat’s overall skin and health. Find new ways to increase its fluid intake. Few suggestions can be; to buy a water fountain bowl so that your cat is enticed to drink water more often, always keep water nearby your cat and switch to more watery or canned food in place of the regular cat food.

Related Post: Cat Water Fountain

  • Keeping Moisturized

Being moisturized is as essential for your cat as it is for us. As dryness is a cause of dandruff, to prevent it your cat will have to be well moisturized all the time. You should take special care during the cold months. There are many available oils, shampoos and lotions out there which will help, but be sure to check first if your cat is allergic to the product. Opt for a product that is scent free and preferably contains oatmeal as an ingredient.

  • Humidifier Works

Along with keeping your cat moisturized, it is also necessary to keep its surrounding air moisturized. You can do so by not letting your cat go out much. Another way is to purchase a humidifier; this will be a smart and useful investment as it will add moisture and freshness to the air. You must especially consider this if you live in a dry climate and during winter months.

Solutions to Cat Dandruff

Despite all the preventive measures, whether knowingly or unknowingly if your cat happens to have a dandruff formation after all, there are many ways to treat it! Treatment can come in many forms and shapes in the way of various products. Some of the most common products are:

  • Cat Shampoo

Shampoo is a useful remedy while you bathe your cat. Additionally, keep in mind that you must never ever use the same shampoo for your cat as you do for yourself! Cats have shampoos specialized for themselves only and these products are available at most pet stores.

  • Pet Oils

Oils are a good product to treat your cat with dandruff for good. The best oils available for this cause are coconut and olive oil. Experts say that coconut oil helps with allergies, itchiness, dryness and promotes overall good fur health. Not only that, application of this oil also holds internal benefits. These are boosting the immune system, reducing arthritis, encouraging healthy stomach function and decreasing arthritis pain and inflammation. Coconut oil can be given with food or directly applied on skin, either way, it must be given in small amounts.

While using olive oil, you must ensure it is not flavored; flavored oils can irritate the skin and cause adverse reactions. Heating the oil slightly before applying improves its functionality. It is advised to gently massage the olive oil all over your cat’s body and then leave it on for about a quarter of an hour to half an hour approximately. You should then wash it off. If effective, you will see positive results soon enough.

  • Pet Cream

Pet creams can be used for your cat for many causes. Whether it is to eliminate dandruff, regain moisture or as a treatment to get rid of itchiness and irritation, pet creams provide a lot. The frequency of usage will depend on the cause of the cream but keeping your feline friend moisturized reduces the problem of dandruff. If your cat has had an allergic reaction on the skin then your vet can prescribe a topical ointment. Be sure to follow instruction given on applying it properly.

  • Pet Sprays

Oils are now available in the form of sprays. Not only that, sprays are now also available for calming and soothing your cat and a useful bunch of bug repellents for cats are now in the market in spray form. There are many options and varieties to make your pick from but make sure you check the raw materials list first and ensure it is safe for your cat.

However, it is very important to find out the fundamental reason which caused dandruff in the first place. Spotting the problem will make treatment plans more precise and effective as dandruff can be caused due to many reasons and causes. If diet and food habit is the problem then surely anti-dandruff shampoos will not help. So it is a sensible decision to fix an appointment with your vet first so that the problem can be dissected and judged and then only appropriate measures shall be taken. Remember, your pet is completely dependent on you for its good health so you must be a responsible owner.


  1. Wallenbeck I, Identification Of Dander-specific And Serum-specific Allergens In Cat Dandruff Extract, Europe PMC
  2. Dr. Lori Teller, Don’t Brush Off Feline Dandruff, Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
  3. Itchy Cat – When It Is Not Fleas, International Cat Care

Leave a reply

Please enter your name here
Please enter your comment!

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.