Dandruff in cats: symptoms, causes and remedies

The cat that healed hearts

Dandruff is a common condition that affects many cats, and its appearance may come for reasons of a different nature. Know the main reasons why your cat has dandruff, what causes it, and what treatment to apply.

What is feline dandruff?

Dandruff is a dermatological condition of the scalp that, as in people, affects many cats at some point in their lives.

It is dead skin in the form of lamellae, scales or notices that come off, falling or remaining attached to the coat of the pussycat.

Dandruff is more a symptom than a disease as such. The renewal of dead skin is natural and, sometimes, the appearance of dandruff is not alarming. However, if the amount is excessive and is accompanied by other symptoms, you must visit the veterinarian to determine the reason and indicate how to proceed.

So you have an initial idea of ​​what may be happening, below we will see the main reasons for your cat to have dandruff.

Why does my cat have dandruff?

As I said, the reasons why a cat can suffer from dandruff are many. Either due to internal factors (such as seborrhea) or external factors (such as diabetes).

The main causes linked to an excess of dandruff are:

  • Feeding
  • Hydration
  • Allergy
  • Parasites
  • Mushrooms
  • Stress
  • Diseases and other reasons

For food

A poor diet that does not contain the necessary nutrients for the cat can trigger several problems, including dandruff.

A clear example of this is when the feeding of the pussy lacks enough Omega 3, a fact that results in skin problems and its consequent excess of dandruff.

Check out the articles on cat feeding.

Another factor linked to nutrition is obesity. The overweight cats have multiple negative consequences for the pussycat; one of them is as simple as not having enough mobility to get to preen and clean certain parts of the body.

By hydration

This aspect is important, both internally and externally. The cat has to have proper internal hydration, and many pets do not drink enough water, and their diet does not provide the necessary liquid.

Read this article on how much water a cat should drink and how to contribute to it.

As for external hydration, dry winter air or places with low humidity can dry the cat’s skin. In that case, one tip is to include humidifiers at home.

Another thing to avoid is a long exposure to the sun. It is not convenient for the cat to be in the intense sun for a long time, because it can give it a heat stroke and because it can suffer burns on the skin (and, with it, redness, itching, and dandruff).

For allergies

Cats can also suffer from all kinds of allergies, and many of them result in skin and dandruff problems.

The contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction of the skin caused by contact with a cat allergen or irritant, such as cleaning products, soaps, chemicals, some types of plants, etc.

Another type of allergy is food when the cat is allergic to a type of protein or grain in their diet. Itching, scales, and dandruff can occur as a result of this type of reaction and, if not detected and treated in time, could lead to something worse. So, once again, the immediate visit to the veterinarian is essential.

By parasites

The most common infection by parasites is Cheyletiellosis, known as ” walking dandruff ” or ” walking dandruff .”

The mite that causes it, called Cheyletiella, looks like dandruff. But in reality, they are small parasites that feed on the skin of the pussycat. It is a very contagious pathology, with which in addition to eliminating it, it will be necessary to have caution with other cats that have lived with the affected one, as well as the spaces that it has occupied (bed, sofa, etc.).

Another disease known as demodicosis caused by the Demodex mite can cause dandruff in the cat. In this study of the Veterinary University of Zaragoza together with two veterinary clinics, we talk about this rare dermatological pathology in cats. It is important to know it because it affects more immunocompromised or malnourished cats and, although in the case of felines, it is considered a rare disease, it is emerging, but it is still more common in dogs.

In any case, if we suspect that our cat is affected by any of these parasites, it must be taken immediately to the veterinarian.

By fungi

Fungal infections are other causes that can lead to feline dandruff.

A well-known fungal infection in cats is ringworm ( dermatophytosis ), caused by a fungus that grows on superficial dead layers of the skin, hair or nails of the pussycat. This pathology causes dandruff to appear and is accompanied by other symptoms such as alopecia, dry skin, peeling, and skin redness. Cats affected by ringworm also tend to have more or less large hives.


Stress is a common cause of many of the evils that cats can suffer. We have already said that they are animals sensitive to unexpected changes and situations, and that can cause them stress.

When a pussy suffers stress, it can present multiple symptoms. Something is “failing” in the cat’s organism, and that translates into the appearance of dandruff (among many other things).

Stretch peeling can also occur. A stressed cat may have behaviors such as scratching too much, rubbing heavily on objects, furniture, etc. And that rubbing leads to skin problems, hives, hair loss, and dandruff.

For diseases and other reasons

There are diseases, such as diabetes, that involve a deterioration of the coat of the pussycat, in addition to dandruff. This metabolic disease in which the cat’s body does not respond adequately to insulin is very common in cats older than seven years. Learn more about feline diabetes.

Another pathology that causes the cat to have dandruff, in addition to other symptoms, is hyperthyroidism. A metabolic disease caused by a hormone-secreting tumor in the thyroid gland, and that affects mostly adult and older cats.

And age not only influences the appearance of pathologies that cause dandruff. When the cat gets older, it is more likely that its skin is drier and prone to peeling. In old age, the sebaceous glands have less activity, so they produce less sebum (responsible for maintaining oily skin). Another reason linked to the cat’s years is that the older the cat is, the less mobility he has and, perhaps, he will not be able to clean and groom some parts of his body.

How to detect feline dandruff

It is not always easy to see, especially in light-haired cats. The white color of dandruff makes it stand out more in a black cat than in a blond cat.

Unless dandruff is very evident to the naked eye, the most frequent is to discover that our cat has dandruff when we are brushing it. It can also be seen while stroking the pussycat, especially doing it against hair.

Other associated symptoms

Many times dandruff does not appear alone, and other symptoms become visible, such as dry skin, itching, redness of the skin, hives, worsening and/or hair loss.

How to remove dander from cats

The main thing is to know the reason for dandruff to eradicate the problem. The veterinarian will be able to determine the reason for dandruff and establish the treatment to follow.

The diagnostic tests you may need to do are:

  • Exploration. Through inspection, palpation, and general analysis of the cat’s appearance.
  • Complete blood count, urine analysis, biochemical profile. To assess the overall health of the pussycat, including levels of hydration, inflammation, infection, organ function, and electrolytes.
  • Skin scraping to analyze a sample and detect pathologies such as mite infection, ringworm, etc.
  • Stool analysis or other tests to detect parasites.
  • Tests to detect food allergies and other allergens.

Treatment to eliminate feline dandruff

Depending on what the veterinarian sees that is the reason why your cat has dandruff, he may prescribe:

  • Special shampoos and bath. Find out how to bathe a cat.
  • Power change
  • Specific medication, such as insulin for diabetes or allergy antihistamines.
  • Antiparasitic

Home remedies to eliminate dandruff

The main thing is prevention, and therefore, we must always maintain:

  • proper feeding of the pussycat
  • Good brushing and hair care. Find out how to do it in this article.
  • good internal and external hydration of the pussycat

When dandruff has already appeared, and whenever we have taken the cat to the veterinarian and agrees with our proposal, you can help with:

  • Omega 3. Either through the application of Omega 3 on the skin or as a food supplement, such as increasing foods rich in these fatty acids.
  • Oatmeal bath to nourish and clean the skin. A small amount can be incorporated into the food, but it is more effective to bathe the cat with warm water and a little oatmeal, or with oatmeal shampoo for cats.
  • Aloe vera. Apply or supply a little of your internal juice (the eye that the bark can be toxic).

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