Does your cat's skin seem dry and flaky, as if he or she has dandruff? This is not normal, but it's also not necessarily a sign of anything serious. Here's a look at some of the most likely causes of your cat's dry skin and dandruff.
1. Dry Air
People often get dry skin in the winter when the air is dry, and cats are not much different. Especially in areas where winter gets cold, moisture settles out of the air outside, and when that air makes its way into your home, it is still dry. If your cat's dry skin seems to worsen during the winter, this is a likely explanation. Consider running a humidifier to add moisture to the air, or at least run a portable vaporizer in areas where your cat spends most of its time. If your cat likes to sit over air vents, discourage this behavior since it can make the skin even dryer. Place your cat's bed across the room from the vent, and put some catnip on it to make it more appealing.
2. Lack of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are many different kinds of fats, all of which have somewhat different roles in the body. One type, which you've probably heard of in terms of its role in heart health, is omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids also help keep a cat's skin pliable and moist. If your cat is not getting enough omega-3s, that could be why their skin is so dry and flaky.
Unfortunately, a lot of cheaper cat foods are not high enough in omega-3s to meet cats' needs. Switch to a higher-quality food — preferably one advertised for improving skin health — or add an omega-3 supplement to your cat's diet. (There are some you can squeeze on top of their food once a day, which tends to be the easiest way to administer supplements to a cat.)
3. Chemical Irritants
Many homes contain chemical irritants that may cause a cat's skin to become dry and flaky. Cleaning solutions and air fresheners are some of the most common culprits. To see if this is what's bothering your cat, try switching to all-natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda. Wash your cat's bedding with castile soap, rather than laundry soap, and do not use any air fresheners in the home. If chemical irritants were to blame, your cat's skin should improve within weeks.
If your cat's skin does not improve once you add moisture to the air, eliminate irritating chemicals, and add omega-3 supplements to their diet, get in touch stop by your local vet clinic.