By Erin Froehlich — One of many Cat Breeds blogs on SmartLivingNetwork.com
Kitty looking scruffy?
Itching or biting at their fur?
Have you noticed skin problems - dryness, or dandruff?
A cat’s skin and fur are both their first line of defense and the first place health issues tend to surface. Luckily, they have you. While these problems should be taken seriously, too often people see the condition of their kitty’s fur and skin as a more frivolous or cosmetic health issue and put off corrective action. As a result, the underlying issues only worsen. Don’t make this mistake! Your cat’s body is asking for help. The sooner you deliver it, the better off they’ll be.
Identifying the cause of the problem is the first step toward solving it. What’s going on with your kitty? Here are some of them most common feline fur and skin issues:
Allergies: Just like people, some cats are born with allergies. Seasonal allergies due to pollen or mold and food allergies due to corn (which is unfortunately one of the chief ingredients in many commercial cat foods), dairy, and artificial colors are all common in the feline world. If your cat is suffering with itchy rough skin, hives, and irritation, it’s worth looking at an improved corn-free diet. Seasonal allergies can be addressed by reducing exposure. The severe allergic skin reaction, sores, hives, and hot spots seen with feline allergic dermatitis can be caused by fleas, mosquitoes, mites, bacterial and fungal infection, hormonal issues, drug reactions, and autoimmune disease. Cats with this condition need to see a vet.
Environmental Issues: When the weather cools and thermostats are turned up, we aren’t the only ones prone to dry skin and hair! Protect your cats and yourself by reducing the heat and moisturizing inside and out. Other potential environmental causes of skin and fur are the grooming products, cleaning products, and fabrics in your home. If the appearance of skin and fur issues coincides with the purchase of a new product, that product may be a trigger to avoid. Best bet? Stick to natural, hypoallergenic products as much as possible!
Pests: If your cat goes outside, or is around a cat or dog that does, pests are nearly unavoidable without prescription medications. Meds may be a bit pricey, but they’re well worth it! Without them, outdoor cats are prone to:
NOTE: If one animal in your home has these issues, all else should be suspected and treated!
Stress: When cats are stressed out by changes in their environment or routine, their immunity is lowered and they may take to over-grooming in an attempt to self-sooth. Try to minimize the effects of stress by sticking to a routine and introducing change slowly. Additionally, or when that’s not an option, you can try natural anxiety medications, supplements, or feline pheromones to promote relaxation.
Nutrient Deficiencies: While poor diet is an obvious cause of nutritional deficiencies, it’s not the only one! Certain health conditions (including stress) can cause the body to eat through more of a certain nutrient than it normally would. As a result, your cat’s overall health, including their skin and fur, tends to decline.
Though these supplements are safe and beneficial for all cats, they are especially helpful for kitties with skin or fur issues! Grind them up and mix them in with a little wet food to make dosing simple and stress-free for both kitty and you.
Biotin: Though true biotin deficiencies are rare, the first sign your cat has one will be in their fur and skin. Biotin is commonly recommended for itchiness and feline allergies. Though, according to the FDA biotin supplementation is not necessary, biotin is water soluble - meaning any excess will be excreted and is impossible to overdose on. Your cat can’t get too much.
Taurine: Because dietary taurine is required for circulatory health and digestion, it affects the absorption of all other nutrients as well. If your cat seems more sluggish than usual, their fur is rougher, or they have dental issues, you might consider a taurine supplement. Though commercial cat foods should provide the necessary amount of taurine, it’s water soluble and extra can only help! Like biotin, taurine can’t be overdosed.
Egg Yolk Lecithin: Lecithin supplements are used by people for improved acne and liver function, but are most often given to cats as a remedy for hairballs. Lecithin is a healthy fat compound derived from either plant or animal sources. Egg yolk lecithin is the best type for cats. Though some veterinarians will still recommend soy lecithin, others advise against it as there is some risk of thyroid issues in cats that take it regularly. Lecithin works as lubricant/laxative in the body so too much can result in diarrhea and digestive discomfort. ½ capsule, twice weekly is the dosage experts recommend for cats.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid:Though cats on a commercial food diet are unlikely to develop a true deficiency, without enough omega fatty acids, your cat’s skin and coat will suffer. Dryness, dandruff, and roughness in the coat are all signs. Though there are many sources of omega 3, experts advise against plant based sources (like flaxseed) which are harder to absorb and fish liver supplements which carry a risk of vitamin A overdose. The best source of omega 3 is a fish oil supplement (more on these here) . As a fat, too much fish oil can result in diarrhea and digestive issues, and as a blood thinning nutrient, it’s not appropriate for cats already taking blood thinners. However, at the safe recommended dose of 71 mg for kittens and 143 mg for cats, fish oil provides cats with extra skin and fur protection with moisture from the inside out.
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