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January 16, 2006 8:13 PM   Subscribe

My cat has dandruff.

We've found the Grizzly Salmon Oil at Drs Foster and Smith, but I was wondering if anyone else has added Omega 3's to their pets' diets with other supplements. (I know I could just feed them salmon, but that would get expensive fast.) For example -- I know that vitamin E is good for human hair, nails, and skin -- so does this apply to cats as well? I've been told there are "capsules you can break open in the food," -- does anyone know what these actually are, and if they are pet safe?

For extra points, I've got one cat with a cast iron stomach and one that is a rehabilitated daily yakker (ie, the stomach, it is not so good).
posted by Medieval Maven to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My cat has a dandruff issue too. My vet had a couple of things that you could put in the food. It was pretty strong smelling, so she didnt like it much. I found adding a bit and then shaking it in a baggie with the food allowed it to coat it enough that she'd eat it. It did seem to improve her coat after eating it for a couple of weeks.

I also found her dandruff got better when I bought a humidifier for my room, and stepped up the amount of combing i do of her fur. Really, its more of a cosmetic problem unless its really severe.

If your cat lets you brush it, look at the fur that comes off in the brush. If there are what looks like scabs in it, then you may have another problem on your hands. But as far as my vet told me, a little bit of white flaking isnt too big of a deal.
posted by gilsonal at 8:40 PM on January 16, 2006

I was told by a vet that cat dandruff is often caused by overeating. Sounds like a ridiculous theory, though.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 8:42 PM on January 16, 2006

Also, when the weather is cold, it can cause dry skin in pets (and humans incidentally). Dry skin can also be caused by a lack of fat in your cat's diet. gilsonal is right in recommending brushing your cat more. This will stimulate the natural oils in the skin and can get rid of the dander. You can try switching to a better quality food, or you could add fish oil. I wouldn't recommend putting vitamins in the food unless you know for sure that they are made specifically for cats. There are quite a few supplements available for cats over the counter. Good luck!
posted by super_not at 8:47 PM on January 16, 2006

Have you tried just brushing first? Get a brush with medium-long stiff bristles (to get at the undercoat) and just brush for awhile every day. I'd do that before I went to supplements; when my cat has dandruff, it's just a sign that I need to brush him more. Of course, YMMV.
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:03 PM on January 16, 2006

paws and shoulders shampoo?
posted by Izzmeister at 9:51 PM on January 16, 2006

I agree with booksandlibretti. One of my cats had horrible dandruff, so I gave her a good brushing every day with a double-sided brush and after about 7-10 days the problem had gone. I understand it's because brushing stimulates the coat to produce oils which prevent the skin from flaking into dandruff.

Now I brush her once or twice a week. And she loves it too, she starts purring hysterically every time the brush appears.
posted by essexjan at 4:13 AM on January 17, 2006

Switch to high quality food. Princess had some light dandruff near her tail when I got her, switched her food to Nutro Natural Choice and dandruff be gone. Not to mention that her coat looked much better.
posted by Ferrari328 at 6:41 AM on January 17, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips so far. We have looked at switching food, but the cat with the bad stomach's issues have deterred us -- we're wary to disturb his gastro-intestinal calm after being healthy for a year. And they're neurotic and won't eat separately. We have to have something that will be easy on his stomach - we've looked at Royal Canin as an option, but we've chickened out on changing them over. If anyone has any food suggestions that will be ok for Mr. Super Sensitive Stomach as well as his dandruffy sister, I'm all ears, but the dietary issue for the male cat is the highest priority vis a vis food.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:12 AM on January 17, 2006

If she's heavy, she might not be able to groom as well, and that will result in more dandruff. The Omega 3 oils would be great for her. I'd also switch to a premium food. My cats eat Science Diet and their coats are great. One good product you might look into is Mrs Allen's Shed Stop. It helps to cut down on shedding and hairballs as well.
posted by mabelcolby at 9:41 AM on January 17, 2006

My wife's fluffy monster gets nasty snarls and tangles in his long hair when the humidity drops, and my short-haired kitty just gets dandruff. Both are helped by an increase in humidity. Over the winter we try to keep a humidifier running; this year we don't have it out yet so we're dealing with knots in one cat and flakes on the other.

(I do brush the cats - my cat loves the brush and will squirm about for hours to make sure I get every part of him - but his brother will only let me brush the back and sides, not the tummy where he needs it. I usually end up sneaking up on him and snipping off the worst of the knots with scissors or a cutting tool designed for matted pet hair when he's relaxed, but it isn't easy. He thinks I'm playing, and will immediately roll over and attack whatever grooming implement I am holding.)

Try the humidifier, if you have one handy, and the brushing of course. If that doesn't help, consider the food. Given your cat's finicky stomach, I would not change the food first thing. For what it's worth my wife's old cat was a notorious barf machine as she got older, but she did quite well on the Royal Canin food.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:34 AM on January 17, 2006

Nutro Natural Choice

This stuff rules. Took care of my cat's dandruff, and made her more lively and playful too. Either that, or the Nutro people stalked me home and replaced my cat with a different one.
posted by kindall at 11:17 AM on January 17, 2006

When I first got my Elliott (a very dandruffy shelter cat) I bought some fish oil capsules and broke one open over her food every day. They were just regular human vitamin types, and the oil inside smelled horrible. The cat really seemed to like it, though, probably because cats like gross stinky fish. Her dandruff cleared right up, but I can't guarantee it wasn't due to the better food I was feeding her at home. Either way: fish oil might work.
posted by audrey the bug at 1:03 PM on January 18, 2006

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