We get so much joy watching our feline friends. Next to napping and playing, you probably see your cat grooming himself most of all. By some estimates, cats spend from 15 – 50% of their time caring for their beautiful fur. When you examine your cat’s skin and coat, you can get some clues about your feline friend’s overall health and wellness. Here are a few warning signs to look for and what you may be able to do to help.
Warning Signs in Your Cat’s Coat
Problem: Your cat’s fur has lost its shine.
- Poor nutrition
- Bathing too often
- Dry Conditions
A low-fat diet or lower quality food will dull their coat. Some cat owners wash their cat with shampoo and water (such as when there is a flea problem) which can dull kitty’s fur and dry out his skin. Winter’s dry air can be especially rough for your cat, and may contribute to dry and brittle hair.
Problem: Your cat has dandruff down the middle of its back.
- Weight problems
An overweight cat may not be able to reach the middle of its back when it grooms itself. If your kitty can’t groom himself properly because of excess weight, there may be other health problems present as well; it’s a good idea to monitor him for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Cats may also become less mobile and flexible as they get older. Grooming the middle of their back can be an especially tricky spot.
Problem: Your cat sheds too much or has bald spots.
Stress can cause cats to shed more quickly than they should. If overly stressed, your cat may groom itself much more than usual, eventually licking or pawing a bald spot in their coat. If your cat is sick, its body may respond by shedding more than usual as well.
How to Help Your Cat’s Coat Recover
The good thing about these problems is that, for the most part, they are treatable. Talk to your cat’s veterinarian about any flea problems and what medicine to use if needed. Make sure your home has a comfortable level of humidity. Designate special areas for your cat to play (and play with him!) so he maintains good joint health and regulates his weight. Shelter him from areas with loud noises (garage, kitchen, laundry room, etc.), and get rid of anything that causes him stress.
The most important way to keep your cat’s coat looking healthy is with proper nutrition. Cats need lots of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to help their hair looking thick and shiny. Animal-based proteins tend to be best, especially ones with fatty acids like fish. Vitamins A, B2, and E, zinc, and copper are all good vitamins and minerals to include in a cat’s diet. Dietary supplements, such as chews, can help bring back and keep your cat’s healthy shine.
Your cat’s coat is a gauge of his health. Before you decide to treat your cat’s fur, be sure to visit your veterinarian to make sure everything else about your cat’s health is as it should be.