Cats can suffer from dandruff, just like other animals and humans, too. But what is it caused by, and how can you treat it? Does cat dandruff pose a risk to your pet’s health? We’ll answer all of these questions and more in today’s article, so keep on reading!
What is cat dandruff, anyway?
Dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, is what happens when a cat’s skin glands don’t function properly. In some cases, the glands can secrete too much sebum, but in other cases, they can secrete insufficient amounts. In both of these situations, dandruff is the physical manifestation of the cat’s dermatitis.
A cat that has dandruff will shed more than one that doesn’t, and she’ll also have skin irritations and flakiness. When the problem gets more serious, you can actually see parts of your cat’s skin that are red, dry, or swollen.
Almost all cats that have dandruff have a tendency to groom their bodies more than they would on a regular basis.
Due to their tongue anatomy, this can lead to several additional health problems, and if they over-groom to the point that they cause themselves skin lesions, these can turn into infections. Cats have a wide variety of pathogens in their mouths, including Staphylococcus spp, so it’s not uncommon for a cat’s over-licking habits to pose a threat to her health.
What is it caused by?
There are three main causes.
- The cat’s lifestyle
- The cat’s diet
- Actual health problems
When it comes to the cat’s living environment, our feline buddies can develop dandruff as a result of certain ambiental imbalances. For example, if the house is too warm, the high temperature can dry out the cat’s skin to the point that it tries to counteract by producing too much oil — and that’s how cat dandruff appears.
There are some cat parents who feel that giving their cats baths on a regular basis is a good idea as it keeps them clean and smelling nice. Well, doing that too often can actually create a pH imbalance on the cat’s skin, so the sebaceous glands will try to fix the problem, but one of the side effects will be cat dandruff.
As for the diet, some studies suggest that obese cats are more likely to develop dandruff, but the truth is that a lack of omega 3 and omega 6, along with vitamin A and healthy oils and proteins in general from the cat’s diet can lead to dandruff.
Last, but not least, cat dandruff can also be caused by ringworm, which is a fungal infection. But it can also be caused by Demodex, a skin parasite. Moreover, cats that have severe flea infestations, those that suffer from hyperthyroidism or those that have lymphoma can produce more dandruff than others.
Should you do something about it?
Now that we have described the causes of cat dandruff, you might have an idea of what you can do to make sure that you prevent or even get rid of this problem. If your living space is too warm and dry, adjust the thermostat and even get a humidifier, if that’s what you have to.
If you tend to bathe your cat every two weeks, you should know that it’s completely unnecessary. There are special products such as dry shampoos, which come in the form of a foam or even powder, and they can eliminate the dirt from your cat’s fur without affecting its pH. You’d have to simply apply the product on your feline friend’s fur and then brush it out.
This procedure doesn’t eliminate all of the oils that are at the base of the hair.
Ringworm and Demodex infections are a bit more serious, and they are characterized by several different other clinical signs. The cat can scratch to the point that she injures herself, and if you notice that, get to the vet as soon as possible.
In some cases, cat dandruff can be quite challenging to treat. Some cats respond well to a combination of therapies, such as the addition of omega 3 and 6, as well as vitamin A supplements, flea treatments (if that’s what’s causing the problem), as well as changes in their living environment.
Is cat dandruff a common problem in our feline friends?
Cat dandruff can be particularly common in indoor cats, as they depend on you to make sure that they live in the right temperature for their bodies. In areas where the weather is warm and dry, even outdoor cats can experience this problem. It’s usually seen on the cat’s back, closer to her tail.
If skin dryness is at the root of the issue, you can even use skin moisturizers for cats. Yes, they exist, and they supply a layer of oil that the cat’s sebaceous glands might not produce.
While you’ll come across many sources telling you that you should give your cat a bath, we’d argue that you should first seek out veterinary assistance before you do that. Sure, you can choose a hypoallergenic shampoo, but giving cats baths isn’t the best idea, in general, especially if you want the vet to diagnose the issue properly, later on.
Most cats aren’t even bothered by their dandruff, as it doesn’t interfere with the way they live their lives. If your feline companion isn’t showing any potentially alarming symptoms such as itching, pain when being touched in a body area, or hair loss, you don’t have to worry about it that much.
Do a little research as to what the ideal temperature for indoor cats is and supplement your pet’s diet with some omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins. Cat dandruff can also be a side effect of some medications or shampoo.