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I've noticed my older cat has started to experience signs of dandruff - especially near the base of her tail.

While this does raise some concern, my research has shown that cats generally do get dandruff as they get older. This combined with the dry winter air leads me to believe this is most likely not a health issue.

However, I don't notice the same dandruff buildup on our other cat (who admittedly has longer fur which may be the cause), so I am wondering if my other cat, being older, is simply more vulnerable to dandruff.

My older cat turned 9 in December - is this the age at which cats getting older may experience more dandruff? And if not, when do older cats tend to experience dandruff problems?

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    When do human adults tend to get grey hair? Signs of aging don't just "flip on" after a certain period of time has passed from birth.
    – Allison C
    Feb 10 at 15:56
  • @AllisonC That may be true, but it doesn't usually start until you get into your 40's. I'm just asking if it's reasonable to expect my cat to start getting dandruff at her age.
    – Zibbobz
    Feb 10 at 16:00
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    Please also be aware that a sudden increase in dandruff often points to a skin condition. Maybe get it checked at the vet just in case.
    – SerenaT
    Feb 10 at 18:37
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    Could you please share some of the sources you found? I can not find any articles about older cats having more dandruff.
    – SerenaT
    Feb 10 at 18:39
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Dandruff is not necessarily a sign of ageing, and it can start at any age. Many cats may never have much dandruff.

As a veterinarian, the most common causes I see of dandruff:

  • Obesity. Overweight cats have more trouble grooming (they struggle to reach their back or tail bases).
  • Diet. Poor quality diets in general can lead to a dull hair coat and dandruff. Try switching to a diet supplemented in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Arthritis. Similar to obesity, it is harder to groom, and dandruff can result. Obviously this is one of the causes that is most common in older cats. For geriatric cats who cannot groom properly, regularly brushing can keep dandruff at bay (but be aware that over-brushing can result in the opposite problem).
  • Young cats can develop skin diseases – typically allergic or parasitic – which can lead to flaky skin. Usually there are other skin lesions as well in these cases.

Dandruff is generally not a major concern, but in a young to middle-aged cat it is a signal to make sure that your cat is a healthy weight, and that they are fed a healthy diet. If you are concerned there may be more to it, then consulting your veterinarian is the way forward.

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