Have you noticed patches of dry skin on your cat? Although it might seem like nothing, it could be something serious, with long-term health repercussions if undiagnosed and untreated. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help your feline friend, both before and after you book an appointment with your vet.
Let’s take a closer look.
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- What Does Dry Cat Skin Look Like
- Causes of Dry Cat Skin
- What Are the Top Home Remedies for Dry Skin on Cats
- Supplements for Cat Dry Skin
What Does Dry Cat Skin Look Like
Dry skin looks exactly as it sounds, but it can come with a few other symptoms that you might not be aware of or have noticed. You might notice flakes of skin in your cat’s fur, which is essentially the same thing as human dandruff.
Alongside dandruff, your cat might have patches of baldness, redness, inflammation, wounds, ulcers, or scabs. This can be all over the body, but usually occurs (and is easier to spot) around the ears, lower/bottom back, around the very bottom (base) of the tail, and also on or around the nose.
Dry skin tends to be quite itchy, so you might also notice that your cat is scratching a lot more, overgrooming, or leaving clumps or fur around the house. Watch some of the footage from your Petcube Cam, and you’ll soon notice changes in behavior, such as increased scratching or licking.
If you notice these symptoms along with other symptoms or new patterns of behavior, there is likely an underlying cause that requires diagnosis and treatment. The only way to find out, of course, is to visit your vet.
Causes of Dry Cat Skin
According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine study, a wide array of conditions and issues can cause your cat to have dry skin. The most common causes are allergies to things like mites, pollen, food, and certain chemicals or compounds in home cleaning or freshening products. Allergies aren’t the only root cause, though.
The following are also common causes of cats with dry skin and/or scabs:
- Poor diet;
- Vitamin, mineral, or other nutritional deficiencies;
- Fur loss (and conditions that cause it)
- Fleas and flea bites;
- Hypersensitivity or intolerance to foods;
- Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections;
- Autoimmune skin conditions;
- Not regularly brushing your cat’s coat;
- Ignoring routine vet checks;
- Heart disease;
- Blood and circulation problems;
- Hormonal imbalances or other issues;
- Overfeeding leads to obesity.
Certain breeds seem to be predisposed to suffering from dry skin or related issues and causes, and these include Bengal, Ragdoll, Munchkin, Somali, and Burmese.
You might be causing your cat’s dry skin issue without realizing it. This is especially the case with the rise of social media and videos telling you that you need to do this, or that, or something else to “benefit” your pet. Oftentimes, these tips and hacks are detrimental to your pet’s health and include:
- Frequent or unnecessary bathing;
- Using potentially toxic pet moisturizers and other products;
- Leaving your cat in hot, dry, sunny weather for too long;
- Incorrect or inappropriate feeding.
What Are the Top Home Remedies for Dry Skin on Cats
There are several vet-approved and recommended home remedies for when your cat is suffering from dry skin, but you must make sure that you know the underlying cause before you begin treatment. If your cat has a heart condition and poor circulation, home remedies won’t solve the problem. Medication and other therapies will.
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1: Fur Brushing
How often you need to brush your cat’s fur will heavily depend on the hair type, breed, and other factors. Cats with short hair require brushing around once or twice per week, but medium- and long-length coats need daily or twice-daily sessions.
This simple act will not only strengthen the bond you have with your pet and reduce stress, but it will also ensure that dead skin is removed and the skin’s naturally occurring oils are evenly distributed around the skin.
2: Warm Towel Spa Treatment
In the same way that you’d go to a spa and get a hot towel on the face after certain facial treatments, a cat can have a warm or hot towel wrap. You should get a clean, dry towel, then hold it under hot or warm water until it is completely saturated. Wring the towel out as much as possible (to avoid your cat scampering off), and then hold it over the most affected areas. This will provide comfort, relief, and a warm hug effect for your pet when they feel discomfort.
3: Remove Potential Irritants
Sometimes, you will need to go through a trial-and-error process before you can get to the root cause of dry cat skin. Dust in the home, certain home fragrance products, cleaning products, perfumes, dust, fleas, and plenty of other somewhat normal household items are potential irritations that can cause or flare up allergies.
Removing potential irritants, one by one will let you know which one(s) is the issue. You can then remove it, leaving your feline friend happy to go about their life in full health.
4: Combat Arid Conditions in the Home
If you live in a naturally hot and dry environment, your pets and household will likely all be plagued by the arid conditions. One thing that will help everyone and every pet is a humidifier.
A humidifier adds moisture to the air, as opposed to dehumidifiers, which take moisture away. If the dry skin issue is caused by a dry environment, this solution will go a long way!
Supplements for Cat Dry Skin
Before I start listing a bunch of ways you can tweak or supplement your cat’s diet to alleviate dry skin, it’s important to say that you should never change your pet’s diet or add anything to it without first consulting with your vet. Drug interactions, allergies, and health issues can determine what foods are good or bad.
Food that contains a lot of protein can help solve or relieve some cat dry skin issues, and supplements of Omega-3 fatty acids can increase the amount of moisture that your cat’s skin contains, which in turn reduces itchiness and the chances of dry skin.
You can actually moisturize your cat’s skin, but you must ensure that all products used are cat-friendly and non-toxic. Your vet will be able to point you in the direction of a recommended product. They may even stock the products you need. All-natural coconut oil is a regular, non-toxic household moisturizer that’s safe for cats.
Does my cat have dry skin or fleas?
Fleas often leave poop and other debris behind, which looks like little black spots. On white or pale-colored fur, you might also notice tiny little bugs crawling around. Unfortunately, fleas tend to affect the whole family, so if you’ve got bites, it’s probably fleas. Speak with your vet about a flea treatment plan, and make sure that your kitty isn’t suffering from something else at the same time, too.
What is the best cat food for dry, itchy skin?
Food with high protein levels is good for combating dry and itchy skin in cats. You should also look for complete cat food types, which contain the appropriate amounts of everything to keep your cat healthy without the need for additional supplements. Also, why not have a chat with a vet? They’ll be able to tell you exactly what kind of food you’ll need to solve your pet’s problems.
Responsible pet parenting means picking up on things when they’re not quite right. Dry skin is definitely one of those things that can often go unnoticed for many weeks or months. With pet tech, different types of protection and cover, and more information at our fingertips, there’s no need to miss out on a pet problem in its early stages again!
Just remember: Always speak with your vet if you notice any out-of-the-ordinary signs or behaviors from your cat.
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