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Cat Tips

Why Does My Cat Have Dandruff? 

June 23, 2022

Believe it or not, cats can get dandruff just like humans do. If you’ve ever noticed dandruff on your kitty, you may wonder why they have it and what you can do to help them out. There are many different reasons your cat may have dandruff, ranging from mild to more severe issues. It’s important to know what’s causing your cat’s dandruff so that you can help them in the right way!  

What is Cat Dandruff? 

Cat dandruff is a skin condition that will cause your cat’s skin to flake, showing up in grey or white specks of skin on their skin or fur. Having dandruff in smaller amounts is relatively normal for cats and will typically be able to be treated from home. However, there is a small chance dandruff could be caused by an underlying health condition that is more serious than dandruff itself.   

Causes of Cat Dandruff 

There are many different potential causes of cat dandruff. Here are some of the most common causes: 

  • Obesity 

  • Poor diet 

  • Buildup underneath their fur coat 

  • Skin allergies or infections 

  • Parasites, such as ringworm 

  • Underlying health conditions: diabetes, cancer, arthritis, hormonal imbalance, or autoimmune skin issue 

Because the causes of dandruff can range in severity, it’s always a good idea to take your cat to the vet for a checkup if they are suffering from dandruff. While most of the time dandruff is a simple irritant, it’s best to make sure there isn’t something more serious causing it!  

Symptoms of Cat Dandruff 

If your cat has dandruff on their skin or fur, they may be suffering from other symptoms as well. Keep a look out for these side effects of cat dandruff: 

  • Dry skin 

  • Itching 

  • Hair loss 

  • Redness of skin 

  • Grooming excessively 

If you notice these other symptoms, it’s best to take your cat to the vet for a checkup to see if there is an underlying cause for their dandruff. Even if there isn’t a more serious issue, a trip to the vet can help you learn how to help your cat get relief from their dandruff!  

How to Treat Cat Dandruff 

There are plenty of different ways you can help your cat get relief from their dandruff. They’re typically easy to implement into your cat’s routine. Here are some of the best ways to help your cat get rid of their dandruff and the other side effects that come with it.   


If your cat is eating mostly dry food, they may be suffering from a lack of moisture. You will want to make sure your cat is drinking plenty of water to make sure they are hydrated from the inside out. Another great way to make sure your cat is getting enough moisture for their skin is by adding more liquid into their diet. Replace some of your cat’s dry meals with a portion of canned food to add more liquid.   


Make sure your cat is getting brushed regularly in order to keep their fur in great condition. Most cats enjoy being brushed, so it’s a great opportunity to help strengthen the bond between the two of you. Aim to brush your cat one or two times per week.   

It’s also important not to bathe your cat too often. If you’re giving your cat a bath too often, it can cause their skin to dry out, which can contribute to the presence of dandruff. Because cats bathe themselves regularly, you shouldn’t give them a full bath more than once every six weeks or more.   

Environmental Changes 

Just like humans, certain environmental factors can irritate your cat’s skin and lead to the presence of dandruff. Make sure your cat isn’t being exposed to excessive amounts of air fresheners, chemicals or cigarette smoke. You will also want to make sure that your cat’s environment is well ventilated, especially if these products have been present recently.   

In the winter, the dry air can be harmful to your cat’s skin, just like your own skin. If your climate is overly dry, invest in a humidifier to help add more moisture to the air. Your cat’s skin (and yours!) will thank you.  


Often, you can find a cream, ointment, or shampoo to use on your cat if they are suffering from dandruff. Many of these can be purchased over the counter, but it’s a good idea to check with their vet before starting a treatment. Make sure that you follow all directions on how to use the medication so that you don’t use it too often.   

Watch for Pests 

Take the time to regularly check your cat for fleas, ticks and external parasites like ringworm. These pests can cause skin irritation which can lead to dandruff for your cat. It’s also a good idea to take preventative steps and put treatment on your cat to keep them from getting fleas or ticks in the first place. Of course, if your cat does show up with one of these pests, take the necessary steps to help treat the issue before it becomes a full-blown infestation!  

When Should You Worry About Cat Dandruff? 

For the most part, cat dandruff can be taken care of at home and isn’t something to be overly concerned about. Of course, it never hurts to take your cat to the vet to have them fully checked out to make sure there isn’t an underlying issue causing dandruff.   

If you notice your cat is losing their fur, has an overly greasy coat, has a rash, or isn’t grooming as much as they usually do, these are all signs you should have your cat checked out by their vet. This checkup will let you know if there is more you can be doing to help your cat receive relief from their dandruff.  

Dandruff Versus Dander 

Many people believe that cat dander and cat dandruff are the same things, but this actually isn’t the case. Dander is something that is normal for your cat to have and happens because your cat is shedding skin cells, as we all do. Cat dander is microscopic and is usually not seen by the naked eye. However, on darker cats, it can be visible from time to time.  

 On the other hand, dandruff isn’t considered a normal condition for your cat. Dandruff is a skin condition that shows up through dry, itchy skin that ends up flaking off in visible flakes. Cat dandruff typically comes from dry skin and overactive sebaceous glands. If you are unsure which of the skin conditions your cat has, it’s best to take them to the vet so you can determine whether you need to treat them.  


Cat dandruff can be irritating for both you and your furry friend, but it is typically not a serious condition. Taking the time to help your cat get enough moisture in their diet and their environment can help give them the relief they need. If you notice your cat is suffering from fur loss, rashes, or any other concerning symptoms, you should take them to the vet to see how to help them get the treatment they need!  




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