Dry skin and a dull coat can be worrisome signs in cats, and there are many factors that can contribute to these conditions. Some are minor or simply related to aging, while others can signify a serious underlying condition that requires veterinarian intervention.
If your cat’s coat isn’t as healthy and shiny as it once was, or if she’s showing signs of dry, itchy, or flaky skin, you can attempt to rule out innocent causes at home, and then take her to the vet for a full evaluation if you can’t get to the bottom of her condition on your own.
Once you’ve figured out the causes of the skin and/or coat issues, read on for some holistic remedies to get your feline companion back to her healthy, gorgeous self.
Causes of a Dull Coat
The most common cause of a dull coat in cats is poor nutrition. While this condition may be expected in strays or older cats who have difficulty eating, it can be a sign of serious illness in a young and otherwise healthy kitty. Make sure your cat is eating a balanced diet that includes a lot of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals. Also, make sure she’s drinking enough water each day.
If you’ve ruled out nutrition as the cause of your cat’s dull coat, other factors to consider include:
- Over-bathing, which can strip the skin of important natural oils that condition the hair and give it shine.
- Parasites, such as fleas, ticks, and worms, can all affect the health and appearance of both the coat and skin.
- Being overweight or obese makes it difficult for cats to groom, and this can result in dirty, dull hair.
- Age-related arthritis can limit movement and make grooming difficult or painful.
- Autoimmune diseases, diabetes, kidney problems, and other serious illnesses can also cause a dull coat, which is why a trip to the veterinarian may be a good idea.
What About Dry Skin and Dandruff?
The causes of dry skin in cats are generally the same as those that cause a dull coat. However, both food and environmental allergies can cause skin dryness, flaking, and itching in cats, and even mild dehydration can lead to dry skin, especially if it occurs over long periods. Feeding wet canned food helps prevent dehydration in cats.
Holistic Remedies for Coat and Skin Health
If you suspect your cat’s dull coat or dry skin is due to a medical condition, consult your veterinarian. Otherwise, there are holistic treatments you can try at home that can hydrate the skin and add gloss to your kitty’s fur coat.
Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil supplements can be added directly to your cat’s food to improve the health and appearance of her skin and coat. For cats who don’t like or can’t tolerate fish, flaxseed oil is almost as beneficial. It normally takes a month or two to notice the effects of fish oil supplementation so be patient and consistent.
If your cat is one of the few who enjoys bathing, you should limit her time in the water. Only bathe her when she’s gotten especially sticky or dirty, and make sure you use a shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for use on cats.
Dr. Patrick Mahaney VMD, CVA, CVJ, cautions “Avoid human shampoo as it can alter a pet’s pH balance or contain ingredients that may be toxic to them (tea tree oil, etc.).”
Coconut oil can be massaged into your cat’s coat and skin or given internally to boost her healthy fat intake. Either way, you’re likely to see an improvement in her fur after a few weeks of use.
If dry skin is the primary culprit, running a humidifier inside your home and encouraging your kitty to drink extra water may do the trick. Hydrating the skin should reduce dryness and associated flaking and itching, and it might even put a little shine back into your cat’s coat.
Also, regularly grooming your cat helps improve the coat and skin in many ways. It improves circulation, stimulates oil production, removes loose hair, and stimulates your cat’s skin cells. It is also an excellent means of bonding with your feline friend, so do it as often as you and she enjoy.
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