If your cat's fur is dotted with little white flakes, he may have dandruff. While dandruff may seem like a harmless condition, it can actually be a symptom of a medical problem or skin allergy. The key to treating cat dandruff is to moisturize your cat's skin so it doesn't flake.
Dandruff in cats manifests in much the same way it does in humans -- white flakes of dead skin that appear on the fur. In addition to dandruff, cats suffering from seborrhea may also exhibit itching and inflammation which can result in excess scratching. Dandruff most commonly appears around the ears and head of cats but it can also affect the back, stomach and legs.
Cat dandruff can be caused by a variety of factors both medical and environmental. If the weather conditions are particularly dry, for example, your cat's skin may be dry as well. Cats with particularly thin coats that spend a great deal of time outside may be subject to sunburn which can also cause dandruff. Some medical causes for dandruff may include allergies, diabetes, hormonal deficiencies and nutritional disorders. In some cases, a poor diet or lack of grooming may also lead to dandruff in cats.
The key to getting rid of dandruff in cats is to soothe and moisturize the skin to prevent further flaking. Dietary supplements, as recommended by your veterinarian, can help keep your cat's skin healthy and dandruff free. Medicated shampoos containing soothing ingredients like aloe vera and natural oils can also help to get rid of dandruff. Another option is to increase the moisture content in the air of your home by setting up humidifiers to prevent your cat's skin from drying out.
Grooming is an important part of maintaining a cat's healthy skin and coat. If your cat has gotten old and cannot groom himself effectively anymore, it may help to brush or comb him on a daily basis to get rid of dandruff. Eliminating dry food from your cat's diet in favor of wet food or adding some fish oil to his diet may also help moisturize his skin, thus preventing dandruff.
Cats are very clean animals by nature and they spend a great deal of time grooming themselves. This being the case, it should not be necessary to bathe your cat. If you bathe your cat too often, wetting down his coat, it could dry out your cat's skin, causing irritation and flaking. If you do decide to bathe your cat, be sure to use a gentle, cat-friendly shampoo to prevent irritation. Another easy way to prevent dandruff is to feed your cat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Give your cat a small amount of wet food every day to keep his coat glossy and his skin moisturized.
Katherine Barrington has written on a variety of topics, from arts and crafts to pets, health and do-it-yourself projects. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration from Marietta College.