How often do you hear about cats having dandruff? This condition is very common in felines, especially older ones.
While it might seem fairly inconsequential at first, if left untreated, it can also cause problems such as hair loss and skin irritation.
If you want to prevent or treat this issue, then read on.
What Is Cat Dandruff?
Dandruff is a kind of dry, flaky skin caused by excessive shedding of dead cells from the surface of the skin.
The main culprit behind this is dry or dehydrated skin, or even fungal infections from a build up of yeast on the surface of the skin.
What Causes Cat Dandruff?
If you have spotted flakes in your cat’s fur or close to their skin, then there are a couple of different skin conditions that they could be in.
There are two main types of dandruff – dry, white flakes, and oily, and sometimes yellow flakes.
The first step in treating your pet’s dandruff is determining which kind of dandruff they have.
If the flakes in your pet’s fur are an oily yellow consistency, and there is a buildup of flakes near the skin, then the most likely cause for your cat’s dandruff is an overgrowth of bacteria called Malassezia furfur.
It is a fungus that lives naturally on the skin of all mammals, including humans.
However, when there are too many of these fungi present on the skin, they start reproducing more than the body needs or can handle, and begin to create a buildup of excess oil (sebum) which eventually turns into flakes.
These flakes are part of a condition called seborrhoeic dermatitis.
There are a number of other causes of pet dandruff too, which cause flaky white dry skin patches.
Other causes of excessive sebum or skin cell production include:
- Stress, which is typically the result of a change in environment.
- Poor diet, lacking in the necessary fatty acids that keep skin healthy.
- Over grooming, or exposure to unnecessary harsh chemicals, such as shampoo, or even the cleaning products you use in your home.
- Heat, which can dehydrate skin.
- Dry air, which can also dehydrate skin.
If any of these factors are contributing to your cat’s unbalanced sebum production, then he or she will have dandruff.
The good news is that with proper treatment, your cat should not suffer from this problem for long.
If you notice that your cat has developed dandruff, then here are some tips to help you deal with it.
How To Get Rid Of Cat Dandruff?
First things first, make sure that you understand what exactly is causing your cat’s skin to become irritated.
Is it because of stress, poor nutrition, or something else entirely?
We suggest that you consult a vet, rather than trying to determine the cause yourself.
This is a really important step, as it will determine your course of treatment, and using the wrong treatment for the type of dandruff that your cat has can worsen the condition.
Once you know what is causing the concern, you can take steps to correct it.
Again, it can be really useful to consult your vet here, so that you use the right treatment.
Under no circumstances should you treat your pet’s dandruff with human treatments – as they can really damage a cat’s skin.
Here are some of the most common remedies for cat dandruff.
Diet – If the source of your cat’s irritation is due to poor nutrition, then you need to ensure that her diet includes the right balance of nutrients.
You may want to consider adding omega-3 rich fish oils to her diet to help boost her immune system and improve overall health.
These can usually be purchased from pet shops, your vet’s office, or specialist online retailers.
Fatty acids from fish oils aren’t only good for your pet’s skin, but also their joints, helping to keep them lubricated, prevent the development of arthritis, and keep your cat sprightly.
This is a great addition to cat’s diets, especially if your cat is on the older side, where they require more fatty acids.
Bathing – You can also try giving your cat a bath every few days, to remove the dead skin cells that build up on her coat.
Bathing helps stimulate circulation, which helps to flush out toxins and waste products from your cat’s body.
Don’t use any products meant for humans, as these can be toxic.
Instead, ask your vet for a shampoo they recommend for cats, or a medicated cat dandruff shampoo.
If you’re worried about how much soap to use, then just follow the instructions on the bottle.
Some cats find bathing relaxing, while others don’t like being bathed at all!
Try to get them gradually used to water so that you don’t stress them out too much.
Brushing or combing – You can also try using a hairbrush or a comb, to groom your cat.
It works by gently brushing away loose hair, without pulling it into knots.
Using a brush allows you to remove excess oil and dirt from your cat’s fur, leaving behind clean, shiny coats.
Make sure that you use a soft bristle brush, and avoid metal ones, as they could scratch your cat’s skin.
Brush regularly – once a day or every couple of days – to see the best results.
Use Feliway – Finally, you might want to look into using a product called Feliway.
This is an essential oil blend designed specifically for cats, and it contains a number of natural ingredients that have been shown to reduce stress in animals.
When applied around your home, it stimulates the production of calming hormones, making them calmer and happier.
It doesn’t work well when used directly on your cat, however, as this can actually irritate their skin.
Instead, rub it onto your cat’s bedding, or place it in their favorite hiding spots.
You can even purchase a plug in diffuser to aerate it around the house.
This will help if you think your cat’s skin concerns have been caused by stress or change in the environment.
In summary, there are many causes of dandruff in cats. The most common cause is dry skin, which can lead to itching and flaking.
Other possible causes include allergies, fungal infections, hormonal changes, and nutritional deficiencies.
As with dogs, you should always consult your veterinarian before treating your cat’s dandruff.
They’ll be able to identify the underlying problem, and suggest the best course of action.
If your cat has started scratching themselves excessively, it’s important to act quickly, as the situation can worsen, and can even lead to infection.
Scratching can damage your cat’s skin, leading to infection and abscesses.
If you notice any signs of redness, swelling, or pus, then call your vet to set up an appointment.