Reasons Why Your Cat Could Have Flaky Skin

If you’ve noticed that your cat’s skin is shedding almost as much as their hair, you’re probably wondering exactly what’s going on. The truth is, it happens, and it happens a lot more than most of us realize. It’s not a good thing, and it’s definitely not something you should turn a blind eye to, but in most cases, it’s easy enough to rectify. It might be that you need to up their intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Maybe you need to cut down on the number of baths you’re giving them. It could even mean you need to pump some moisture back into their lives (and your home) with a humidifier. That being said, don’t take matters into your own hands before booking a check-up with a vet. If they rule out a medical explanation, take a look at these common reasons why your cat could have flaky skin.

Dry Air

People often experience dry, chapped skin in winter, and cats are the same. The problem is less to do with the plummeting temperatures outside than the soaring temperatures inside – as soon as the central heating goes on, skin can start to suffer. The problem is made even worse in areas that suffer extremely cold winters, as any moisture is likely to have been sucked out of the air long before it makes its way into your house. To counter the problem, consider setting up a humidifier to pump up the moisture levels. If a full-scale humidifier is likely to place a big burden on your budget, a few cheap and cheerful portable vaporizers scattered around the areas your cat likes to hang out will do the trick. If they like to chill out by the air vents (a very bad habit that can exacerbate any dry skin problems exponentially), try to discourage them by setting their beds and toys up in another area of the room. If they seem disinclined to move, a little catnip should help entice them.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Cats might need meat to survive, but they need the full caboodle of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to thrive. You might think you’re catering to their carnivorous natures by feeding them a diet of premium chicken breast, but in the wild, they’d be eating the livers, the lungs, the kidneys, and even the hair of whatever creature they ran into. Without a complete, balanced diet, cats can quickly and easily develop nutritional deficiencies. When they do, their skin is usually the first thing that suffers. Fortunately, the problem is easy enough to manage. If you feed them commercial food, look for the words ‘complete’ and ‘balanced’ on the label. If you feed them a home-cooked or raw diet, do your research thoroughly so you can ensure each dish contains the proper proportions of minerals, proteins, fats, and vitamins. If they continue to experience issues after that, it’s worth talking to your vet about supplementing their regular food with some additional omega 3s. As notes, some supplements can simply be squeezed on top of their normal food, thus avoiding the ever-tricky problem of administering pills or medicine to a scratch-happy cat.


Most cats aren’t big drinkers. Not only can that place a burden on their kidneys and other organs, but it can also lead to dry, flaky skin. If your cat eats dry food, consider replacing their kibble with wet food. Wet food, by its nature, provides a lot more moisture than dry food, and can make a big difference to cats who shy away from the water bowl. It’s also worth considering investing in a water fountain – even cats who dislike drinking will usually be enticed by the movement.


People aren’t the only ones who can suffer from allergies. Cats can be sensitive to a whole variety of common household products and environmental irritants, including detergents, fleas, pollen, mold, grooming products, and air fresheners. Some can even develop allergies to their food or their litter. To reduce the risk, switch to natural cleaners like lemon, baking soda, and vinegar. Swap your regular laundry detergent for Castille soap when you clean their bedding and use natural ways of fragrancing the room over artificial air fresheners. If chemical irritants are to blame for your cat’s dry skin, it should resolve within a few weeks of making the change. if it doesn’t, speak to your vet about switching to a prescription diet in case a food allergy is at the root of the problem.


Cats aren’t like dogs. They don’t tend to get dirty and they don’t see puddles and piles of mud as opportunities for fun and games. As says, left to their own devices, most cats will take care of their bathing needs perfectly well. That doesn’t, however, stop some of us from thinking they need a bit of extra help. Unfortunately, treating your cat to a weekly bath is unlikely to do anything other than strip their skin and coat of the essential oils they need to keep in tip-top condition. If you want to keep your cat’s skin healthy, skip the bath and stick to regular brushing sessions instead.


As per the last point, most cats are perfectly able to take care of their grooming needs themselves. That being said, obese cats or cats with mobility problems can have a tough time reaching all the bodies parts that need grooming. As a result, dead skin can get trapped beneath their fur and end up causing dandruff. If you suspect your cat may not be up to the challenge of keeping themselves groomed, take the advice of and help them out with a daily brush.

Medical Conditions

If you’ve addressed all the possible nutritional and environmental factors that could be having a detrimental impact on your cat’s skin health, they might have an underlying medical condition. Fungal infections like ringworm, bacterial infections, heart disease, thyroid disease, and parasites can all result in dry, flaky, and even itchy skin. As the skin is often the first place that illnesses become apparent, contact your vet as soon as possible if the dry skin is accompanied by excessive itching, increased grooming, red, inflamed patches, or any signs of illness. The longer the problem is left untreated, the worse it’s likely to become. As some fungal infections can be contagious, avoid handling your cat if you notice any small, circular patches of red and flaky skin.

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