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Flaky Floof: Cats With Dandruff

Dandruff in cats has several possible causes

Help!  My cat has dandruff!

My friend, Lisa, asked me recently what to do about her cat Puff’s flaky skin.  Puff will be eight years young this year, and she tends to wear the furry pants in this cat family.  She’s also long-haired, so Lisa tries to keep her coat shaved to avoid matting.  Did I also mention that Puff likes to eat?  This funny kitty taught herself how to open one of those dry food dispensers that open on a timer!  Yep!  She tore that thing apart!  Her philosophy?  “A girl’s gotta eat when a girl’s gotta eat!  NOT waiting for mom to get up and feed me or for the timer to put food in my bowl.”  This was back when she used to eat kibble.  Yeah, Puff can be a little bossy, too, but whenever I go over to her house she’s always the first in my lap, motor purring.  We joke that Puff isn’t fat, just fluffy.  In all honesty, she’s just a big cat–not fat–and she does love to eat.  😻

Treating cats with dandruff--it's important to address the cause.


The likely culprits

As far as the kitty dandruff, Dr. Karen Becker, DVM,  says there are normally four reasons this happens:

  • Under-grooming
  • Under- or over-bathing
  • Dietary deficiency
  • Underlying medical issue

Where’s the brush?

In Puff’s case, her regular grooming schedule has been a little off lately due to Lisa’s busy schedule.  Plus the fact that Puff may be struggling to reach her hind end for grooming.  If your kitty is overweight or having trouble reaching her tail area you’ll need to step up the brushing schedule.

Tub time?

Most cats do fine grooming themselves, so giving them a bath isn’t really necessary.  Most cats definitely prefer to avoid water, so having a bath is the last thing they would voluntarily sign up for.  If your prefer bathing your cat make sure you use a natural shampoo product that is gentle and safe for pets and free of harsh chemicals, sodium laurel/laureth sulfate (SLS) and parabens.  Be sure not to bathe too often as this can also cause dry, flaky skin.

The Omega Factor

The most common reason for dry, flaky skin in cats is usually a deficiency of omega-3 oils.  Most cats who eat a commercial diet of kibble or canned food are extremely lacking in omega-3 oils.  These foods usually have an over abundance of the cheaper omega-6 oils instead like soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, or olive oil.  The heating process destroys the functionality of the omega-3 oils, which is why this oil must be added back to the product as a supplement.  Even cats who eat a homemade raw diet need a supplemental omega-3 in order for the omega-3 and omega-6 ratio to be balanced.  Fish oils like salmon, krill, sardine or anchovy are highly beneficial to add to your cat’s diet.  Coconut oil is a healthy, medium chain fatty acid, and most cats don’t mind the taste.  While flax oil is a great plant-based oil for humans, cats’ bodies cannot process and use the omega-3 found in plants and therefore should choose a different source for omega-3s.

Not Feeling Well?

Sometimes the flaky skin is due to an underlying health condition such as hyperthyroidism, illness, or skin infection.  Cats don’t groom themselves when they don’t feel well, so that’s always a dead giveaway that something may be wrong.  Skin infections can include bacterial, fungal, or even parasites, and all these can exhibit dry skin conditions.  It’s best to rule these out with your integrative or holistic veterinarian if you’re unsure.  You can read more about Dr. Becker’s advice on dry skin conditions here.

Salmon oil and omega 3s are excellent for preventing dandruff in cats.Most natural pet food stores will carry omega-3 oils.  Normally one pump once a day is sufficient, but muscle testing will tell just exactly how much your cat needs.  Meanwhile, Lisa added some more Salmon Oil to Puff’s food, and last I heard she was getting back to her regular spa (brushing) time!

Need help?

Not sure if your kitty needs an omega-3 supplement?  You can order an Optimal Cat Health Muscle Testing Analysis to determine exactly what your cat needs!  It includes a complete analysis of your cat’s food, medicines, supplements, and more.  Take the guess work out of getting and keeping your kitty healthy!

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