Does Your Cat Have Dandruff?

a tabby cat with dandruff perched on a branch

As pet parents, accepting that cat hair has become a welcome accessory in your wardrobe is something that many people can easily relate to. Sometimes though, cat hair may not be the only thing your cat is shedding. So, what is the stuff that’s flaking off in your cat’s fur and why is it all over your couch? To start let’s clear up the differences between dander and dandruff when it comes to your cat. Dander is practically invisible to the naked eye. These skin particles your cat sheds can trigger allergies in those that have them and are the general traces of your cat that are left in the air. If your cat is shredding bigger visible flakes of skin, this is most likely dandruff which may require your attention. 

In this article we’re going to discuss:

  • Dander 
  • Dandruff 
  • Dandruff Causes
  • Dandruff Treatments
A calico cat looks at its owner endearingly.
Every cat parent wants to give their kittens a happy healthy life, and that includes making sure that their skin is moisturized and smooth. 


Microscopic flakes that your cat produces normally

If your cat is solely producing dander, then that’s a good sign that their skin is in good shape. Dander isn’t visible, so if you haven’t noticed any irregularities in your cat’s shedding that’s a good indicator that all is okay. A lot of cat parents mistake dandruff as dander, so to clear it up dandruff causes a slew of other symptoms as well as flakes of skin large enough to see with the naked eye.


It may be easier to spot if your cat has darker fur

Dandruff is a skin condition that causes your cat’s skin to flake off and shed. It is oftentimes accompanied by itching, and sometimes hair loss or red patches. If your cat experiences occasional patches of dandruff and they don’t seem to be bothered by it then you don’t need to be too concerned. If the itching persists or gets worse and it begins to affect your cat’s behavior it’s a good idea to treat it and find out what may be causing it. If your cat has dandruff it’s increasingly important that you pay attention to the state of their skin. Prolonged untreated dandruff can lead to serious skin damage. 

Dandruff Causes

How can your cat get dandruff?

Dandruff is a condition that most cats encounter at least once or twice over the course of their (9) lives. There are a bunch of different possible causes for your cat’s dandruff, some internal, and some external. That’s why it’s sometimes a little bit difficult to narrow down what’s causing your cat’s condition. Hopefully knowing more about all of the possible causes and their symptoms will help you rule things out and arrive at what’s causing your feline’s dandruff. 


Hydration is a massive part of what allows your cat to moisturize its skin. Cats that intake the amount of water that they need to stay healthy are likely to avoid issues with having dry skin. If your cat isn’t drinking enough water everyday dandruff can be a good indicator that they’re dehydrated. That in tandem with the weather conditions in your area can have a lot to do with your cat’s dandruff. A cat that lives in a dry climate like Arizona can develop dandruff as a result of the climate’s effect on their skin.


What your cat eats can also be directly reflected in the state of their skin and coat. If your cat consumes a mostly low-fat diet, dry skin can be a byproduct of the food they're eating. Eating an unbalanced diet can also be detrimental to the health of your cat’s skin. 

It’s also a good idea to see if your cat’s dandruff correlates with a recent change in food, or if they’ve eaten something new in recent time. Cats are just as capable of being allergic to certain foods as we are, and food allergies can sometimes be the source of abnormal skin conditions.


Cats are also vulnerable to getting sunburned from prolonged sun exposure. They’re most prone to getting it in sensitive areas such as the eyelids, ears, nose, or mouth. If your cat has fur that’s light in color or relatively thin, then they’re at a higher risk for getting a sunburn. This can cause your cat’s skin to be dry and flaky. Sun damage to the top layer of your cat’s skin can be another viable cause for their dandruff.  

Overweight Cats

Many overweight cats struggle with skin issues. Some of this is caused by the fact that cats struggling with their weight may have difficulty reaching certain areas while grooming themselves. This can leave some areas exposed to developing certain skin conditions. If your cat is overweight and has diabetes it can also be a potential cause for their dandruff. 

Health Problems

Dandruff can be a sign of many potential illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes (as mentioned before), fungal or yeast infections such as ringworm, or feline lymphoma, a form of cancer that weakens your cat’s immune system. 

There is also Cheyletiellosis or “walking dandruff” which is a skin condition caused by your cat having a mite infestation.

If you suspect that your cat is dealing with any of these conditions you should take them in to see the vet and be treated accordingly. 


If your cat has just gone through a big environmental change such as a move or home renovations, it’s possible that they may be experiencing anxiety. This can include a number of behavioral symptoms as well as physical ones such as dandruff. The best thing you can do to address your cat’s anxiety is giving them as much love and attention as you can.

Old Age

It’s also entirely possible that your cat’s dandruff is a result of their old age. Growing older causes your cat’s skin to become drier and lose its elasticity. This can make them more prone to having dandruff than they were when they were kittens. 

A kitten naps on the floor after having its dandruff treated.
Stay patient as you seek out the culprit for your cat’s dandruff. There are many possible reasons and if the case is mild the stakes for your cat aren’t all that high. 

Dandruff Treatments

Steps towards getting your cat’s skin healthy again

A good way to help treat your cat’s dandruff is brushing them along with their own grooming. Make sure that they have clean water and a diet full of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and fish oil. Consider setting up a humidifier in your home to add more moisture to the air, and maybe buy some dandruff shampoo to use on your cat to treat their dry skin. 

For more complicated cases, such as underlying diseases it’s best to consult a veterinary professional on best practices and the next steps you should take.

Questions? Email us >

You Might Also Like

Enjoy this article? We've covered more topics like this one on the Fauna Care pet care blog!