Say Goodbye to Cat Dandruff

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How to Get Rid of Cat Dandruff

Cat scratching behind his ears

Cat dandruff isn’t the most serious thing that can affect your feline friend, but it can cause inconveniences and irritations if it’s left untreated. While the dandruff itself isn’t too serious, it can be an indication of more serious underlying issues. So if you notice your cat has an unusual amount of dandruff you should take the time to look into it right away. Below you’ll find all the info you need on how to identify and treat your cat’s dandruff issue.

striped cat scratching behind ear
If your cat is unusually itchy this may be an indication of the dry skin that causes dandruff.

Is it Dander or Dandruff?

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Dandruff is abnormal dead and dried out skin cells that your cat sheds usually during an allergic reaction. Your cat’s dandruff should not be confused with dander. Dander is the natural shedding of dead skin cells that combine with the protein in a cat’s saliva that is left behind on the fur and skin when your cat grooms itself. Although it is commonly thought that your cat’s hair is what causes cat allergies, dander is actually responsible for human allergies to cats.

Your cat doesn’t really care if it has dandruff or dander and certainly doesn’t know the difference. However, you can easily tell the difference. Dander actually consists of microscopic pieces of your cat's skin roughly 10% the size of a dust mite. Dandruff on the other hand looks a lot like human dandruff and will consist of dry flaky skin that you can see on your cat’s fur or left behind on their sleeping areas.

cat with dandruff flakes
Cat dandruff looks a lot like human dandruff and can be easily identified by eyesight. Image Caption Photo Courtesy of The Holidog Times.

Causes of Cat Dandruff

Flaky Feline Skin and the Causes.

Cat dandruff can be caused by a variety of different factors. These include, but are not limited to: An infection of parasites that causes the skin to become flaky or unusually dry or hot weather that causes your cat's skin to dry out.

Your cat being overweight may also be a contributing factor. Cats that are obese have a hard time reaching, and therefor, cleaning certain parts of their body. The areas they are unable to clean don’t get groomed as often and dry skin can build up. 

Finally, the type of shampoo you use on your cat can cause dandruff. If you overbathe your cat, or if the shampoo just makes their skin dry, this can cause them to develop dandruff. Cats have natural oils that protect their fur and skin and bathing them too much strips them of these oils which can cause dandruff problems. Additionally, always make sure to wash the shampoo off your cat thoroughly. Leftover soap can cause a variety of skin irritations including dandruff.

Good grooming habits can keep your cat from developing dandruff in the first place.

So Your Cat Actually Has Dandruff. Now What?

What To Do When Their Skin Is Too Dry.

There are a few different at home remedies for a cat with dandruff. One simple solution is to raise the humidity level in your house. This can be done in many different ways. You can find a cheap humidifier at most major retailers, but if you’re strapped for cash you can always boil a pot of water and let the steam add humidity to your air. Since dandruff is really just dry skin, preventing arid air will prevent the skin from drying out so much in the first place. 

Additionally, unhealthy foods can be a cause of your cats skin drying out so providing them with healthy food using real ingredients can go a long way to keeping their skin happy and healthy. You can even add diet supplements like fish oils that contain Omega 3 fatty acids to their diet to help their coat.

You can also change up the grooming habits you have with your cat. While cats are notorious for grooming themselves in a meticulous and careful way, they are still just goofy cats and don’t always do the “best” job. So if you start noticing a buildup of dandruff on your cat, try brushing them more regularly during the week. This can be a nice bonding experience with your pet and also allow you to remove excess dead skin cells that they make have missed.

In addition to brushing your cat, you can increase, or decrease, the amount of baths you give them. While most people dread giving their cat a bath it can actually go a long way in preventing dandruff and fleas. If you already frequently bathe your cat it might be worth checking how often you do it. If it's more than every 4-6 weeks it's probably too much and causing your cats skin irritation.

Finally, be sure to check your cat for pests or other skin irritants. Excessive chewing or scratching on certain areas can cause the skin to become flaky. Fleas and ticks are the most common pest that can make your cat scratchy, but it's also important to look out for lice and mites. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best kind of pest control for your pet and any skin problems whenever they develop. 

Cat scratching face on bookshelf
Keep an eye out for your cat being unusually scratchy to prevent future dandruff build ups.

Cat dandruff can be caused by a whole host of different factors. The most important thing is to just keep your cat happy and healthy. Keeping them hydrated, well-groomed, and well fed can go an enormous way in keeping them dandruff free. And if that fails make sure to check your bathing routine and have a conversation with your vet about skin care next time your feline friend goes in for a visit.

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