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Cat Nutrition for a Healthy Coat

Learn the factors that contribute to a healthy coat for your cat, including nutrition, age, weight, and bathing.
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Boost Nutrition for a Shiny Coat

A cat’s skin and coat reflect what's going on inside its body, says Susan G. Wynn, DVM, CVA. Wynn, a veterinary nutritionist in Georgia, is co-author of the Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine. When the fur becomes dull or the skin dry, “the first thing we need to look at is the diet,” she tells WebMD.

Cats need much more protein than dogs; they also need complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to help them maintain a healthy body and shiny coat. A diet that’s low-fat, or consists mostly of generic, poor-quality foods “will definitely cause a poor-quality coat,” Plotnick says.

Both vets tell WebMD the most sensible answer is to switch to a premium brand of cat food. Check with your veterinarian for recommendations.

In the quest for a shiny coat for your cat, you can also try supplementing kitty’s food with fatty acids like those found in salmon or other fish oils. Expect to wait four to six weeks to see results, Plotnick says. Ask your vet first before starting any supplement.

Cat owner Carolyn Rose saw results supplementing with fish oil. Rose’s cats had “dry, flaky skin and no luster to their coat.” Adding fish oil to her felines’ food “worked, and I think it made them feel better, too.”

Crystal Ernst discovered that diet was behind her 17-year-old cat’s skin problems. Boo had been plagued with dandruff and dry skin for years, Ernst says, but a switch to a high-quality, grain-free diet produced a shiny, soft coat “in a matter of weeks.”

Already feeding kitty a premium diet but still seeing a dull coat? Wynn suggests switching to another high-quality cat food, “one with completely different ingredients made by a different company.” Every company has a nutritional philosophy, Wynn says, and a cat food that’s great for one cat, “may not work well for another.”

Deal With Overweight and Obesity for a Healthier Cat and Coat

Does your feline friend have dandruff down the center of its back or around the base of its tail? That could be a sign that kitty can’t reach these spots because he or she is overweight or obese.

Being heavy doesn’t just lead to a less flexible feline. Extra weight also puts your cat at risk for many of the same chronic health problems as an overweight human, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and cancer.

If obesity is behind your cat’s dull coat, the first thing you need to do is address the problem, Plotnick says. Start with a visit to the vet, who can create a healthy, lower-calorie diet for your cat.

It’s important that you don’t undertake this alone. Your vet can calculate the right amount of calories your cat should eat per day and recommend a proper weight loss diet.

Cats need to lose weight slowly and carefully. A too-rapid weight loss in an overweight cat can lead to a serious liver disease called hepatic lipidosis. It took kitty time to put that weight on; it’s going to take time to get it off.

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