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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.

Help an Older Cat to Clean Its Coat

Your cat may be as sleek as an otter and have a great diet. But if a cat is too old to clean properly, the result may be a dull coat or dry skin.

In that case, a shiny coat for your cat is literally in your hands. Brushing your senior cat more often can be kitty’s ticket back to a soft, luxurious coat. The American Animal Hospital Association suggests using a fine-toothed comb, one that can dig down a bit and catch the dull, dead hairs a brush may not reach.

You can also try boosting the omega-3s in your elder cat’s diet, if your vet approves. Be sure to add it to kitty’s food, not directly to her fur. “Treat your cat’s dry skin and coat from the inside, not the outside,” Plotnick says.

Skip the Bath to Preserve the Cat’s Coat

Plotnick tells WebMD that washing your cat frequently could be another reason for a cat's dry skin. Like many vets, he recommends bathing your cat only when her coat is extra dirty -- think grease, something sticky, or other grime that’s hard for a cat to groom away.

And when you do bathe kitty, Plotnick suggests finishing with a conditioning rinse made specifically for cats.

If you’ve been bathing your cat in an effort to control your allergy to cat dander, you’re not really helping yourself -- or your cat. The effects of bathing on dander are transient and last mere days. It’s more helpful to wash your hands, take allergy medication, and clean the house often.

If fleas have you bathing your cat frequently, you’ll save wear-and-tear on everyone -- and help your cat's coat return to its normal shine -- by switching to a monthly flea medication for cats. Severe flea infestations may also require treatment of the home before flea products can be fully effective. Don’t use flea products made for dogs on your cat; these can be fatal. Or consider buying a fine-toothed flea comb.

To Protect Your Cat, Check With the Vet First

Before you change your cat’s diet, give it supplements, or make any big changes in kitty’s life, always talk to your vet first.

Dry skin and a dull coat can be a sign of allergies, parasites, or infection. But it could also be something more serious, such as kidney, liver, adrenal, or thyroid problems. Home remedies could just complicate the problem or delay treatment.

Reviewed on May 01, 2010
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