Do cats get dandruff?

Dandruff…the little white flakes that make people (especially women) think twice about wearing black. Flakes of dandruff have made manufacturers of anti-dandruff shampoo rake in millions of dollars from people battling the little white flakes dilemma. Dandruff occurs not only in humans but in animals as well. Cats can get dandruff. A cat owner would easily identify the white flakes that fall like snow when the cat is brushed. A cat’s body is entirely covered with hair but unlike humans, cats would not be bothered by dandruff. Figuring out the causes of the pet’s dandruff and the possible treatments will be a task for the owner. The cat’s dandruff has to be treated as aside from the discomfort caused by the itch, the raw skin that results from the cat’s incessant scratching can get infected.

Given the grooming habits of cats, it is rather surprising why these animals can get dandruff. Dandruffs which are actually dead or dried out skin cells can be easily removed when cats groom themselves. However, there are body parts that cannot be reached by a cat’s raspy tongue. Dandruffs commonly occur on hard to reach (and hard to clean) body surfaces like at the back and the base of the tail. This situation is more common in obese cats. The extra flab makes grooming difficult. Cats have the inclination to lie on the roof and on any other elevated surface to sunbathe. These animals have a higher tolerance for heat as compared to other animals. Although the cat is well protected by its fur, the top layer of the nose, ears, eyelids and mouth can still get sunburned. Sun burnt skin will die, peel off and become dandruff. Dandruff can be caused by parasites like infestation of fleas, ticks and mites. The bites of these parasites can lead to allergic dermatitis. A too dry air inside the house during the winter months or an allergic reaction to a grooming product or to a new diet can be the cause of the pet’s dandruff. Cat owners may not attribute the pet’s dandruff to stress but these are sensitive animals. Changes like a new pet, a transfer to another home or even the simple change in the cat’s bed or blanket would already stress the pet and cause dandruffs to erupt. Another culprit for the pet’s dandruff is the diet.

Just as with humans, bathing and the right kind of shampoo can be the simplest way of removing these little white flakes from the cat’s body permanently. Medicated shampoos specifically formulated to deal with animal dandruff can be used every time the pet is bathed. A word of caution though…frequent bathing would dry up the cat’s skin and dry skin is another reason why cats have dandruff. Too frequent bathing must therefore be avoided. Cats are noted to be fastidious groomers but brushing the cat, especially the long haired breed is one good way of distributing the natural oils of the skin. These grooming sessions would keep the skin healthy thereby preventing dandruff. Additionally, these grooming sessions would be ideal bonding moments for the cat and the owner. Cats are naturally inclined to sunbathe but it would be a good idea to keep the pet indoors at least during the hottest part of the day.

As mentioned, the cat’s dandruff can be caused by the kind of diet. Cats are not good water drinkers. Water is essential to the health of the pet. However, most cats are drinking insufficient amount of water. Unhealthy skin is one of the signs of dehydration. Changing the diet of the pet and making sure that it drinks the right amount of water to keep it hydrated are simple yet effective ways of preventing dandruff.