My cat has dandruff - should I be worried?

Debbie
Debbie

I've noticed that my cat has a lot of dandruff on her coat, despite grooming herself regularly. She is moulting at the moment and I haven't brushed her for a while - is this what's caused the little white flakes on her fur?

1 answer
J_StudentVN_ZoologyBSc
J_StudentVN_ZoologyBSc

Hi Debbie,

               Dandruff is caused when the glands in your cat's skin, which are responsible for producing oil—the sebaceous glands—begin to overproduce. These oils nourish and protect the skin; however, in too great a quantity they can start to irritate your cat's skin, causing flakiness and more shedding than normal. 

A lack of omega 3 fatty acid in a feline's diet can lead to this poor state of the skin. Another cause of dandruff in cats may be caused by extreme loss of skin moisture and natural oils.

Cat dandruff is a lot like human dandruff; it is the skin scaling off because it is dry. It is a bothersome disorder, but not often a serious one. It could also indicate that there is something else wrong with the cat. The thing that owners of cats with dandruff should be wary most of is that if the cat is scratching too much, that behavior could further damage the skin and cause open sores which could become infected. This is especially true with outdoor cats, where the environment is far less clean.

While most treatments and medications will address the cause of the dandruff, the itching and discomfort caused by it will not go away until the cause of the dandruff is completely eliminated, and that could take some time. There are also several things that you should take note of because these will make the dandruff worse:

  1. Raise the humidity in the house. Dry air will aggravate the cat’s dandruff, and it is also a cause for brittle and dry hair on your cat. During this period when your cat has dandruff, and he needs grooming, do not use a blow dryer because the added heat will irritate the skin more.
     
  2. Do not let the cat out in the heat, for the same reasons stated above. Wait until the late afternoon to let him out, when the sun’s heat has already dissipated.
     
  3. Keep the cat comfortable with topical applications that will get rid of the itchiness. It will relieve his discomfort and lessen the chance that he will scratch.
  4. Food - the right diet can make a big difference to your cat’s skin and coat. Read more about what to feed your cat
  5. Skin supplements - pet skin supplements often contain ingredients such as fish oil that can help improve dry, flaky skin.
  6. Creams and lotions - if your cat has a small area of dry skin, for example on their nose or an elbow, you could try using a small amount of a pet safe moisturiser (for example Vaseline) to keep the area moist and prevent it cracking. Speak to your vet if you aren’t sure which product to use.

If you see no improvements in a few weeks then book an appointment with your vet to ensure nothing else is causing the dandruff.

best of luck!

Joe

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