Why Does My Cat Have Dandruff?

Dandruff is a pretty common issue for cats, and can be identified by specks of skin in their fur and bedding. It causes them to look unkempt and unattractive, and can leave those pesky white flakes all over your house.

Why Does My Cat Have Dandruff?

If you notice your cat scratching excessively, then you should take him or her to the vet so that they can be checked out and treated. 

Read on to find out what causes chronic dry skin and dandruff in cats, as well as what you can do to help your pet feel comfortable and back to their full self. 

How To Tell If My Cat Has Dandruff? 

Dandruff is a common problem for cats. Their hair is very soft and fine, and when it gets too dry or dirty, it can cause the skin to flake off in dry patches.

Just like in humans, dandruff can cause the cat to itch and scratch themselves, distributing the flakes even more.

So, to tell if your cat has dandruff, take a close look at their fur (you might have to part their fur to take a closer look at their skin), their bedding, or anything they come into contact with frequently.

They might have little white flakes lodged in their fur – this is dandruff. Really, you only need to be worried if you see whole patches of dry skin, or a lot of flakes.

The occasional flake does not need to cause you any concern – cats shed their skin just like humans do, so a few flakes is just a normal part of the lifecycle of the skin. 

 Why Does My Cat Have Dandruff? 

There are a few different causes for your pet’s dandruff, which include:

Dandruff is caused by a lack of fatty acids in the diet. Fatty acids are an important part of the diet (in both cats and humans), in particular the omega fatty acids that are found in fish oil are integral to maintaining the health of skin.

This means that dandruff can be caused by a lack of these essential nutrients. Cats who eat commercial diets tend to have less oily fur than those fed a more natural, complete diet.

Dry skin conditions can also lead to dandruff. When the skin is too dry, the cells become weak and start to shed. In cats, dandruff and dry skin is caused by dehydration, which in turn is caused by overheating or over air conditioning your home.

They may also be drinking too little – keep an eye on how much water your cat is drinking! 

A change in environment can also contribute to dandruff. Your cat may be stressed from moving to a new place, being away from his or her friends, or having a new pet in the household, which can then have an impact on their skin and their skin adjacent behavior – such as obsessive grooming or scratching. 

Grooming issues. If you see flaky patches or hair clumps only around the base of the tail, and lower back, your kitty may not be able to get to those areas to groom properly.

Obesity could cause this problem – as your cat is just a little too chunky to be able to reach around as flexible as they used to.

Dandruff may be caused by overproduction of sebum (oil) from the skin glands. Sebum is produced by the oil glands located at the base of each hair follicle. The excess sebum clogs the pores and leads to itching and flaking of the coat.

Dandruff can cause (or be a symptom) of other health issues in addition to excessively flaky skin. Health concerns include parasites, such as mites, flea allergies, and feline diabetes. Your vet should check for these conditions before trying any treatments.

How To Treat My Cat’s Dandruff? 

Why Does My Cat Have Dandruff?

There are several ways to treat dandruff, depending on the cause of the flakes. Some treatments include shampooing, topical applications, and oral medications. Your veterinarian can recommend the best treatment option for your pet.


When it comes to treating dandruff, there are two main types of shampoos available: traditional and medicated. 

Traditional shampoos contain ingredients similar to what we use to clean our own hair – soap, conditioners, and fragrances. These shampoos will help remove some oils and dirt that are causing the flakes.

However, most traditional shampoos don’t work well on cats because they produce too many suds. 

Medicated shampoos are designed specifically for cats, and can be accessed through your vet. These products contain anti-dandruff agents like selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, or ketoconazole.

They are usually applied topically, in a bath by yourself, a vet, a veterinary nurse, or a professional animal groomer.

Topical Treatments 

Some people prefer to apply homemade remedies rather than using shampoos. You can make your own oatmeal bath for your cat. Mix one cup of warm water with one tablespoon of rolled oats.

Use a spray bottle to apply this to dandruff patches on your cat, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Rinse off thoroughly. This method works great for removing dandruff when combined with regular bathing.

Make Changes To Their Diet 

Like all of these treatments, seek advice from your vet before making any major changes to your cat’s diet, and make the changes gradually, so that you don’t shock their system too much.

You can add more fatty acids into your cat’s diet through supplementary fish oils, or giving them a more complete diet. 

Regular Brushing

Brushing your pet regularly can help to get rid of mild cases of dandruff, or prevent dandruff from ever developing.

This is because a good brush can distribute oils evenly through their coat, preventing them from building up in any specific area, and boosting circulation to the skin.

Grooming your cat is a bonding activity for you and your cat as well – so you are helping to keep your cat both healthy and happy. 

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, dandruff is not something that needs to be worried about if your cat has normal skin. It is only an issue if it becomes severe enough to cause discomfort or distress to your pet.

If your cat does have dandruff, however, there are various methods to try to deal with it, including shampooing, dietary changes, and brushing. We hope that this article has helped!

Courtney Trent
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