Just like humans, cats too can have dandruff or cat dandruff. When we talk of “dandruff,” we are referring to the tiny dead skin cells or dry white flakes that collect on the surface or underneath the hair or fur in this matter.
All cats shed skin cells as a natural part of the regeneration process of the body.
Therefore, the presence of dead skin cells on the surface of your cat’s fur is not abnormal and cannot be said to be problematic. In short, seeing a flake or two of dandruff on your cat’s fur should not worry you.
However, it is when your cat begins to shed excessive or too much skin cells to the point that tiny white flakes are highly noticeable within its coat that it can be said to be abnormal or problematic.
If you are concerned about the rate at which your cat is shedding skin cells, or the number of skin cells (dandruff) on its fur, read on to find out more about the causes of cat dandruff and how you can help your cat.
Why Does My Cat Have So Much Dandruff?
Cat dandruff can be caused by various factors both internal and external. Some of the most common causes include:
· Poor nutrition – especially when the cat’s diet is low in fat.
· Poor grooming – especially in elderly and obese cats.( Have a look at this article about cat grooming process)
· Old age – the skin gets drier with age.
· Cold weather – contributes to dry skin as it affects hydration.
· Sunburn – causes the skin to peel off.
· Food allergies – they tend to cause itching, scratching, and scaling.
· Skin allergies – usually caused by plants, soaps, shampoos, solvents, chemicals, and other allergens and irritants.
· Parasites – such as mites and fleas.
· Fungal infections – such as ringworms and Malassezia.
· Diseases – such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism.
Other than the presence of dry, flaky, white (or brownish) particles in your cat’s fur or coat, other symptoms you should look out for include:
· Red and inflamed skin
· Dull coat/fur
· Oily and matted fur
· Thick, scaly patches on skin
How to Treat Cat Dandruff
Before you panic, most cases of cat dandruff are rarely serious and can easily be resolved at home.
Therefore, unless you have identified a serious symptom in your cat, such as red and inflamed skin, thick and scaly patches, or any other serious problem aside from dandruff, itching, and a dull coat, chances are that you will be able to resolve or treat the issue without the vet’s help.
Here are some tips you may find quite helpful:
- · Make sure your cat takes more water.
- · Feed him or her high-quality foods, preferably canned or raw.
- · Add omega 3 fatty acids to his or her food.
- · Moisturize your cat’s skin and fur more often. Use a natural, unscented moisturizer.
- · Groom your cat personally, especially if he or she is elderly, obese, or sickly.
- · For severe dandruff, ask your vet to recommend a good anti-dandruff shampoo.
- · In cold weather, use a humidifier to moisten the air.
- · Brush your cat for a few minutes at least twice a day.
- · Make sure he or she doesn’t stay outside too long.
- · Make sure he or she does not have an infestation of mites, fleas, or other parasites. If you suspect an infestation, seek professional help at once.
As we have already seen, there are various causes of dandruff in cats; some of them not serious but others quite serious. Treatment will, therefore, vary by cause.
If the problem persists or recurs even after improving your cat’s diet, grooming faithfully, and taking the measures we have just looked at to treat the problem, there could be a possibility that your cat has an underlying problem that will require the intervention of a vet.
Your vet will perform a series of examinations on your cat and perhaps request the cat’s medical history from you or previous vets.
He or she may ask questions related to the problem, such as how long since you identified the issue, your cat’s diet, grooming process, and so on.
In some cases, your cat may have to undergo some diagnostic tests so as to get a clear-cut diagnosis.
All in all, you can expect him/her to recover fully with time with proper treatment, the right diet, and proper grooming.