Why Does my Cat Have Dandruff?

“Why does my cat have dandruff?” is a question that almost every cat owner asks him/herself at least once.

However, even though it’s a relatively frequent skin condition, you shouldn’t mix dandruff with dander. 

What’s dander? 

Dander is a completely normal way of shedding the dead skin just like with humans.

It isn’t itchy, and your cat doesn’t feel uncomfortable while shedding.

This is a natural, necessary process of skin renewal that makes your cat’s skin and fur healthy.

What’s dandruff?

On the other hand, dandruff can be very unpleasant for your feline pet, especially when it causes irritation and redness.

Dandruff is excessive shedding of your cat’s skin, and it can very often be intense and cause itching.

Your cat will scratch the skin and cause irritation and redness that are not only unpleasant to look at but also painful.

If not treated on time, the harsh scratching and licking of the irritated skin can lead to hair loss. 

So, if you notice occasional shedding and a little of dead skin that doesn’t cause irritation, you can be relieved.  This means that your cat’s skin is going through a natural process.

However, when you notice excessive, larger chunks of dead skin, it’s most likely dandruff. If you also see that the skin is red and that your pet is scratching, try out some remedies to help him/her. 

I’ll share with you what can be the reason that your cat has dandruff as well as various solutions to treat it.  Be aware that, in order to fix this problem, you firstly need to know what causes it.

Without further ado, let’s answer your “why does my cat have dandruff?” question and offer some solutions that can help!

Why Does my Cat Have Dandruff and What causes cat dandruff indeed?


Generally, four potential problems can cause dandruff: parasites, allergies, nutrition, and dehydration.

However, it happens that even some health issues can be the reason why your pet has dandruff.

Lastly, over-bathing is also a severe issue that can lead to dry skin and cat dandruff, especially if you use strong shampoos.

Now let’s explain each cause so that you know how to help your cat.

  • Parasite-caused dandruff

Cats can have an allergic reaction to parasites such as mites, worms, flies, etc.

The bites of these parasites are the cause of reaction that can lead to cat dandruff, itching, and irritated red skin.

Make sure to treat your pet so that its skin problems don’t become more serious and painful.

Your vet will be of big help in this case!


  • Allergy-caused dandruff

When it comes to allergens, both food, and environmental ones, cats are similar to humans.

They can easily develop allergies, and this can cause dry skin and dandruff as a reaction.

Have you noticed your pet scratching after changing a laundry detergent, or maybe introducing a new indoor plant?

Your furball probably has an allergic reaction. 

As you can imagine, a lot of things can be allergens, from pollen to cleaning supplies.

That’s why it’s important to monitor your cat’s reaction and change the product, plant, or food that’s bothering him/her. 

  • Nutrition-caused dandruff

More often than not, poor diet with lot of sugar causes dry skin on cats, which leads to dandruff and irritation.

Make sure that your cat’s diet is balanced and that it includes all the necessary nutrients.

The immune system needs all of the nutrients to be strong and fight off ailments.

Your pet’s diet needs to be high in omega-3 oils because those are excellent for its skin and fur.

Whether you feed your cat with homemade or store-bought food, be mindful to include all of the healthy nutrients.

In this way, you will keep your cat’s immune system strong and skin and fur healthy.

  • Dehydration-caused dandruff

The most probable answer to your “why does my cat have dandruff” issue is dehydration, like with us, humans.

When your cat doesn’t get enough water, its skin becomes dry and sheds too much, which causes dandruff.

Other than that, dry climate and air can also be the reasons why your cat’s coat is dry.

Cats who live in places with dry air suffer from dandruff more often than cats that live in a normal climate.

  • Potential health issues that can cause dandruff

As with any other condition, skin problems can also be caused by various health issues.

These will affect your cat’s entire organism, not only skin.

However, health problems are rarely the cause of dandruff.

Monitor your pet’s behavior and skin as soon as you notice dandruff.

If you realize that none of the other, previously described causes are the reason why your cat has the irritation, consult your vet for help.

These are some of the most frequent health issues that can cause cat dandruff:

  • Anxiety and stress

Since cats are sensitive creatures, they usually dislike any sort of environmental change.

They easily get anxious and stressed out, and dandruff can be the product of that.

Of course, other than dry skin, you’ll notice anxiety thanks to other factors such as scratching, chewing non-food objects, and similar. 

  • Diabetes and/or hyperthyroidism

These two cause multiple health issues, including dandruff.

Older, overweight cats are most likely to suffer from diabetes and hyperthyroidism.  

  • Yeast and Fungal infections

Infections that almost always cause dandruff and hair loss are Malassezia and Ringworm.

These should be treated as soon as possible to avoid hair loss.

  • Feline Lymphoma 

This type of cancer is the most common one in cats.

The entire immune system is weakened and, therefore, it shows on the skin. In these cases, dandruff is the outcome. 

  • Sunburn

Sunburns are no picnic when it comes to feline pets, especially those with thin fur and sensitive skin.

If your cat spends a lot of time outside during summer, this may be the reason why it has dandruff.

  • Why does my cat have dandruff 

Like with any more serious issue when it comes to cats, there are more than only one reason.

The majority of these potential causes of cat dandruff can be easily taken care of at home.

However, some of them, such as health diseases, require medical help.

This means that it’s crucial to take your cat to the vet if you doubt its dandruff is related to health issues.

How to get rid of dandruff on a cat


Other than visiting your vet in serious cases, you can help your cat get rid of dandruff pretty quickly at home.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Bathe your cat regularly 

Your cat’s skin and fur need to be clean, especially after going outside.

That’s why it’s important to maintain your cat’s hygiene if you want it to be dandruff-free.

Be careful not to over-bathe it because this can strip the skin of necessary natural oils and make the situation even worse.

  • Use anti-dandruff shampoo 

Many cat skincare brands offer effective anti-dandruff shampoos that can be of big help.

These can control your cat’s skin ph and moisture level.

  • Change its diet

Your pet’s diet needs to be balanced and rich with omega-3 oils and protein.

In this way, your cat’s organism will be healthy.

Therefore, even your pet’s skin and fur will be healthy and shiny. 

  • Keep it hydrated

Make sure that your kitty’s water bowl is always full.

That’s how you will know that he/she has enough for drinking.

Water is very important not only for humans but also for pets.

Have you ever noticed your skin being drier when you reduce the amount of water you take?

It’s the same for cats.

  • Use air humidifier 

As said, dry air and climate can be another cause of cat dandruff.  If you live in a dry area, you should invest in an air humidifier for your home.

This will improve not only your cat’s quality of skin and health but also yours.  You’ll notice an immediate improvement and less dandruff as soon as you create better air indoors.

  • Brush your pet regularly

Cat’s fur requires regular brushing with the right brush.  This will soothe your cat and keep it calm and stress-free.

It will also distribute the natural oils evenly throughout the whole fur.  Choose the brush according to your cat’s fur.

Don’t buy one that’s too soft because it won’t distribute the oils well.

On the other hand, the brush that’s too stiff can damage the skin and make the irritation worse.

  • Use moisturizers 

Other than producing high-quality shampoos, a lot of companies produce moisturizers for cats.

These are great for cats with drier skin, and they can prevent dandruff very efficiently.

Read Also: Why Does My Cat Drool

Bottom Line

I shared with you the most probable causes of why your cat may have dandruff.

Even though your cat may suffer from irritation that causes inconvenience, you can do a lot to help.

Try each of the mentioned remedies and see which one works for your pet.

If none of them help, you should visit your vet.

He/she will examine your little feline in order to help him/her with the main issue that causes dandruff.