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As a veterinarian, I know that a cat’s coat is not just about aesthetics—it’s a window into their overall health. So what should you do if your kitty has greasy, matted fur and dandruff? 

The good news is that there are effective ways to address these issues and improve your cat’s skin and coat health. In this article, we’ll explore five proven methods, including dietary changes, grooming techniques, and specialized shampoos. 

Keep in mind that results won’t be immediate, but consistent care will lead to improvement over time.


  • Unhealthy cat skin leads to coat problems.
  • Good diet, grooming, and therapeutic bathing can improve skin health.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of underlying disease are also important for the best outcome.

Causes of Dandruff, Greasy Fur and Mats in Cats

Before diving into solutions, it’s important to understand the root causes behind your cat’s skin and coat issues. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in restoring your cat’s luxurious, shiny fur. 

Here are some common culprits:

  • Allergies: Overactive immune systems reacting to pollen or food can lead to skin irritations and poor coat health. (1)
  • Skin Infections:
    • Parasites like fleas, ticks, and mites.
    • Fungal infections such as ringworm. (2)
    • Secondary bacterial infections are often tied to other health issues.
  • Thyroid Disease: Especially in older cats, hyperthyroidism can affect skin and coat health.
  • Decreased Mobility: Arthritis in older cats or obesity can limit a cat’s ability to groom, causing unkempt fur.
  • Other Diseases: Dental disease, respiratory issues, feline leukemia, diabetes, pancreatitis, and kidney disease can all contribute.

Once your vet has addressed any underlying health issues, you can focus on further enhancing your cat’s coat health with these additional steps.

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5 Effective Solutions for Cats with Dandruff, Mats & Oily Fur

In this section, we’re diving into the nitty-gritty: the top five ways to tackle those troublesome skin issues your cat is facing. 

From the right nutrition to the importance of regular grooming, I’ll share actionable solutions to get your kitty back to their best self. A bit of effort and patience can go a long way toward improving your cat’s coat.

1. Improve Their Diet

Nutrition plays a big role in a cat’s skin and coat health. Look at the food you’re currently feeding and ask yourself if it’s the best option. Things to consider:

  • Reputable National Brand: Choose a well-known brand that meets the AAFCO standard for feline nutrition to make sure your cat is getting a balanced diet.
  • High-Quality Protein: Opt for foods that list a quality protein source, like chicken or fish, as the first ingredient. 
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids are key for healthy skin and a glossy coat. These come in the form of vegetable oils like canola and corn oil as well as from animal-based products such as chicken fat and fish oil. (3)
  • Hypoallergenic Diet: Your vet may recommend a trial with a hypoallergenic diet. Brands like Royal Canin and Purina offer high-quality purified foods for allergic cats.


Cat with Matted Fur. The veterinarians advice on how to treat and manage at home.
Dr. Magnifico helps Lucy the cat with matted hair.

2. Help Them with Grooming 

Cats with skin and coat problems can often benefit from assisted grooming. If you’ve never delved into this pet care activity, here are a few tips for you…

Get your cat used to brushingStart slowly with a soft brush and offer small high-value treats like cooked chicken to make it enjoyable. Only do a little at a time to avoid overwhelming your cat.
Brush areas your cat can’t reachIf your cat is elderly or overweight, they might have trouble grooming their back or belly. Help them by brushing regularly before mats form.
Be careful with grooming toolsThe Furminator comb removes loose fur well, but don’t overdo it to avoid leaving your cat bald.
Know when to stopIf your cat looks annoyed, stop and try another day. Aim for a few minutes of brushing a few times a week once they’re comfortable.
Get professional helpFor cats with many mats, consider professional removal to avoid causing skin cuts and nicks. Visit a veterinary clinic or cat groomer.
Furminator Deshedding Tool for Cats
These combs are great for removing dead fur. They can also remove too much normal fur if you’re not careful.

3. Therapeutic Shampoo

If your cat’s fur is oily, specialized shampoos can help. 

There are many choices, so be sure to consult your vet about which product would be best for your cat. A couple shampoos I’ve used include DermaBenSS and MiconaHex+Triz.  DermaBenSS is a strong degreaser and MiconaHex+Triz is a gentler shampoo for bacterial and fungal infections.

Allow the shampoo to sit for at least five minutes before rinsing and aim for one to two baths a week. Always monitor for skin irritation; if redness occurs, discontinue use. 

Struggling to bathe your cat? Consult your vet for sedative options.

4. Address Underlying Issues

There are many underlying conditions that lead to excessive dander, mats and oiliness in cats’ fur. You can do all the topical treatment you want but you will never make headway without first finding and treating these problems. 

Ask your veterinarian if skin, blood or imaging tests are needed to rule out infections, endocrine diseases, etc.

bathing for cat dandruff greasy fur and mats
Regular bathing will help with excessive oil, mats and feline dandruff.

5. Time & Persistence

Since the hair growth cycle requires time to complete, coat changes will take weeks to months to become visible. Be ready to stick with a single strategy for at least three months before you can judge whether it is helping your cat.

When to See a Veterinarian

It’s always a good idea to take your cat to see a vet sooner rather than try to guess at the cause and treatment. If your cat’s skin problems haven’t improved with home care after two weeks, you should seek professional help.

Bengal cat with a beautiful leopard pattern coat
Bengal cats have amazing, luminous fur when they’re healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A small amount of dandruff in a cat’s coat may be normal and often resolves with changes of season. Persistent flakes with additional skin lesions like scabs may indicate a more serious skin condition. 

Most cat dandruff is not contagious to humans or other pets. However, “walking dandruff” is caused by Cheyletiella mites which can be contagious.

Brushing regularly is a good way to help cats maintain their coat. It may remove some of the loose dandruff flakes from your cat’s hair but it won’t stop more from forming. More direct treatments such as therapeutic shampoo or treating underlying health conditions may be needed.

You can use a conditioner made for cats or a small amount of olive or coconut oil rubbed into your cat’s skin after bathing. Moisturizers are effective for mild dandruff related to dry weather.

Bathing a cat once or twice a week is usually sufficient to remove excess skin debris and to allow therapeutic shampoos to work.


In conclusion, your cat’s coat is a window into their overall health. By focusing on diet, grooming, and appropriate treatments, you can improve their coat condition. 

Remember, consult your veterinarian for a tailored plan, especially if underlying health issues are present. Consistency and time will yield a healthier, happier cat.

The content provided on NaturalPetsHQ.com is for general information only. It is not meant to replace individualized medical advice from your own veterinarian. Read more on the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use page.

Related Posts:

  1. Bajwa, J. (2018). Atopic dermatitis in cats. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 59(3), 311.
  2. Moriello, K. (2014). Feline dermatophytosis: aspects pertinent to disease management in single and multiple cat situations. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 16(5), 419-431.
  3. Bauer, J. E. (2011). Therapeutic use of fish oils in companion animals. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 239(11), 1441-1451.

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