Help! How do I get rid of my cat’s dandruff?

When you think of dandruff, what comes to mind? Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not on cats! Nevertheless, our furry friends can also suffer from this unsightly condition, for a myriad of reasons, even if it is quite uncommon. It can be due to some easy-to-solve causes but can sometimes be an early warning sign for serious health issues, so it’s important you learn how to treat cat dandruff at the source.

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What is dandruff in cats?

Like dandruff in humans, the white flakes you’re seeing on Fluffy’s coat are just dead skin cells that have accumulated and not been removed by the cat. A mild case may be nothing to worry about and can be caused by something as innocuous as dry winter air or a stressful change in their environment.

When is it time to see a veterinarian for your cat’s dandruff

There are many underlying causes of cat dandruff that require medical attention such as obesity, skin infection, parasitic infestation, feline diabetes, endocrine disorders and other skin disorders.  Dandruff caused by environmental changes may not require medical attention. If you’re seeing redness, greasy fur, raised scabs or scales, hair loss, excessive scratching, or other concerning symptoms in addition to the flakes, it’s probably time to see your vet.


How to treat cat dandruff: general treatment regimen


There are special topical products that bring healing ingredients directly to the skin. Some ingredients are able to regulate skin cell turnover, decreasing the formation of flakes. We recommend using products like DOUXO® S3 SEB line, which are specially formulated to reduce dandruff, excess sebum and unpleasant odor.  DOUXO® S3 SEB products hydrate dry skin, maintain proper skin pH and help prevent bacterial and fungal overgrowth. It is available as a shampoo and mousse, which should be combined (one shampoo followed by mousse applications) for optimal performance. Mousse application through massages does not require rinsing, which is excellent news for all cat owners.


Coat brushing


Brushing your cat 2-3 times a week will help brush off dandruff, disperse the natural oils from the skin, prevent mats and make your kitty’s skin and fur feel better.


What causes dandruff in cats and what is the best cat dandruff treatment?


When dandruff becomes so severe that regular grooming doesn’t help, generally it is due to the cat not grooming themselves properly and/or an excessive amount of dead skin cells flaking off, faster than the cat can remove them. Let’s take a look at some of the more common causes.


Lack of self-grooming

Cats are usually meticulous creatures, spending hours grooming themselves in all kinds of positions. However, they sometimes have trouble reaching certain spots. This is especially true if your cat is overweight.  For instance, they may not be able to reach the base of the tail, that will then be prone to dandruff, matted fur and even infections. This is also true for older cats, who just may not be as flexible and effective in their grooming as they were before.


How you can help


If you have a cat who is obese, older or who has mobility problems and can no longer reach certain areas, you’ll need to step up and take over the grooming for those areas.  the best way to help your cat with this grooming is to start a general treatment regimen with topical products and brushing.


Parasites and fungal infections

Even if your cat is an indoor cat, they can still get parasitic infections such as fleas, mites, and internal parasites from other pets that come in and out of the house. If you suspect this could be the case and your cat is not on a reliable flea and tick preventative, see your veterinarian for a definitive diagnosis. Cats can also get fungal infections like ringworm, which is treatable once detected by your veterinarian.

How you can help


With appropriate testing, your veterinarian should be able to readily identify whatever pest is plaguing your cat and prescribe an effective treatment. They should always be kept year-round on a veterinarian approved flea and tick preventative, such as Vectra® for Cats and Kittens or Catego®, and should be regularly dewormed.


Poor diet

If your cat’s dietary needs are not being met, for example, they may not be getting the right ratio of fatty acids.  Or, if their diet lacks other essential nutrients, this can manifest as a poor hair coat and/or dandruff. If your cat is on a low-fat diet to help them lose weight, this can also trigger dandruff.

How you can help


Make sure that the food you are giving your feline is veterinarian-recommended and your veterinarian may consider rounding out their diet with fish oil or an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. If your feline’s weight loss diet seems to be the culprit, you can use DOUXO® S3 shampoo to clean the skin and fur, and DOUXO® S3 mousse to moisturize the skin.



Strangely enough, cats are not the best at hydrating themselves. This is because they are physiologically equipped to get most of their water from their food, so the conditions they live in as domesticated animals, specifically eating dry food, can leave some prone to suffering from dehydration. This, coupled with the dry winter air we use to heat our homes, can mean that some cats suffer from seasonal dandruff.


How you can help


If you suspect dehydration is an issue, there are several things you can do to encourage your cat to ingest more water. In addition to a general treatment regimen, you can supplement their diets with a high-quality wet food, providing them with more moisture. You can also make their water dish more appealing by using a different bowl or a cat watering fountain.   They don’t call them finicky felines for nothing! Some cats prefer different types of dishes, and the best choices are usually stainless steel or ceramic bowls. The size of the bowl can also play a role, as some cats don’t like it if their whiskers touch the sides. To combat dryness in the air, you can also try to use a humidifier in your home, which might benefit you and your cat during dry periods.

 Getting rid of cat dandruff: The bottom line

Luckily, this condition is easily remedied once its cause has been identified. With topical products, a coat brush and other specific solutions depending on the cause, your furry friend should be feeling less flaky in no time!

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VECTRA® is a registered trademark of Ceva Animal Health, LLC.

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