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Your Cat's skin

Flaky skin

Dealing with dandruff

What's going on?

If your cat has oily or dry skin with flakes ('dandruff'), he may have a condition called seborrhoea. This can be a problem.


There are two forms of seborrhea: oily (oleosa) and dry (sicca). A combination of both is frequent. A change in the amount and quality of the oily skin secretions (sebum) caused seborrhea. An imbalance between new and dying skin cells causes the flakes on your cat's coat and this aspect of skin peeling.

Dandruffs can be observed in cats with no dermatological disease, usually those that have not groomed properly due to different possible reasons: 

  • wearing an E-collar for a long time,
  • obesity ; some cats are too fat to reach every body site and groom properly,
  • too long coat to be able to keep it clean,
  • general sickness with depression, or endocrine disorders,
  • spine pain which prevents them to turn around properly.

Many dermatologic causes can also be possible: fungi such as ringworm or Malassezia dermatitis, parasitic skin disease (cheyletiellosis, demodecosis), lymphoma of the skin...


Oily skin exudes a waxy, greasy substance and you may see comedones. Often, cats smell bad. With dry seborrhea, dandruff are more frequent and a lack of sebum irritates the skin. Skin hyperpigmentation and hair loss are also common.

The damage of the natural protective skin barrier can be a favourable place for bacterial or yeast infections. Itch may appear too. The ears or the tail ('stud tail') are sometimes affected or only a part of the body.

Stud tail is an overactive sebaceous gland on the upper part of the tail. This gland produce sebum but also pheromones included in territorial marking and sexual communication.   

6 tips for a healthy and fresh-smelling coat

A shiny coat is the reflection of a healthy pet. This is how you can help.

  1. Consult your veterinarian to identify and treat any underlying condition. Remedies will depend on the diagnosis. 
  2. Help control the skin condition by using a specific shampoo, mousse, spray or spot-on product for sebum to soothe and regulate the oily secretions while protecting the skin barrier ecosystem.
  3. Maintain a health weight, as overweight cats are more prone to hormonal imbalance and grooming problems. 
  4. Feed your cat a high-quality, balanced diet. Supplement with essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals can be recommended by your veterinarian if a deficiency is confirmed.
  5. Keep your cat free from parasites: treat against fleas, ticks and worms on a regular basis.
  6. Schedule regular check-up consultations with your veterinarian to monitor your cat's skin condition. You can also send him pictures of your cat to show the evolution.

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