How to Treat Dry Skin on Cats

If you notice flakes of dandruff on your kittys fur, its helpful to understand the reasons for dry skin in cats. The flakes can sometimes be a symptom of a disease, but they are often related to nutritional issues or over-bathing. Find out what you can do to help.


how to help cats dry skin

“Grooming on a regular basis is the single best way to maintain the overall health of the skin and hair coat,” Dr. Osborne says. She suggests regular bathing using hypoallergenic shampoos that contain oatmeal or benzoyl peroxide to provide relief. You might also try a vinegar and water rinse, she says.

What causes dry skin on cats?

A common cause of dry skin could be related to the food your cat eats. In order to maintain a healthy skin and coat, cats need to eat a diet of balanced nutrition, including omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center — so dry skin could indicate a diet deficiency.

Dry skin can also be a symptom of an overweight cat, or one otherwise challenged by mobility problems. “An additional cause for flaking in cats is decreased grooming, which can occur in overweight cats or cats with arthritis,” notes Dr. Juliette Bouillon, assistant professor at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. “Due to their shape or pain, they are unable to reach their back for appropriate grooming. This can result in hair matting, skin inflammation and flaking.”

Other causes can include the rituals you may have for bathing your cat. Using the wrong shampoo or using water that is too hot can cause dry skin, says integrative veterinarian Carol Osborne. So can allergies, parasitic skin problems, including fleas, mites, and lice, and certain hormonal disorders like thyroid disease.

What are the symptoms of dry skin on cats?

The symptoms of dry skin on cats include white dandruff-like flakes appearing in their fur, and noticing your pet scratching at itchy areas. Dry skin can also result in a diminished shine to your cat’s fur.

“They will have what looks like dandruff in their fur,” notes Dr. Osborne. “Your dog or cat may also be scratching themselves or have a dull-looking coat.”

Top Navigation

A case of dry skin isnt usually serious, but it can make your cat super uncomfortable! Heres how to nix the itch. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission. Advertisement

Just like us, cats can sometimes suffer from dry skin. This often occurs during the winter, when the cold air outside and increased heating use inside dries out the air, but it can happen other times too. The good news is, occasional mild itchiness and dandruff due to dry skin is nothing to worry about. But if your cat has persistent dry skin or is also showing other symptoms of a skin problem or illness, she should be seen by your veterinarian.

Common Causes of a Cat’s Dry Skin

Your cats skin requires a certain amount of moisture to maintain its elasticity and resilience. A low-humidity environment can cause the skin to dry out. This most often happens in the winter when the air is colder and we are turning our heat on more (forced-air heat in particular can really dry out your home). Arid climates also have very low humidity.

Use a humidifier to help increase the humidity in your home to keep your cats skin happy. (When using a humidifier, use caution if incorporating essential oils, as they can be dangerous for cats!)

Cat Breeds That Are Prone to Having Dry Skin

In general, purebred cat breeds are more susceptible to skin conditions.

Examples of such breeds include

  • Burmese
  • Bengal
  • Munchkin
  • Ragdoll
  • Somali and more.
  • For more information, check out The International Cat Association’s official list of purebred cat breeds.

    Causes of Dry Skin in Cats

    Skin disorders may be easy to diagnose in cats, but their underlying causes are not as easily discernable. PetMD stresses there are numerous factors that can come into play when a cat is exhibiting symptoms of exfoliative dermatoses. These causes include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Hormonal changes
  • Parasitic or bacterial infections
  • Weakened immunity
  • Diabetes
  • Advanced age
  • Related Articles

    Though dry skin may seem like a simple issue to treat, it is best to first consult a veterinarian who may be able to identify any trigger factors.

    Leave a Comment