Cats are normally fastidious animals that take excellent care of their coats. A cat with a healthy hair coat will be free of mats, external parasites, and the coat will be glossy and have a beautiful sheen to it. Cats who have dry skin, another name for it is seborrhea or dandruff, are sending you a signal that something is wrong.

So what causes dry skin in cats? Parasites and Infections

Dry skin in cats can be caused by an external parasite, like mites or fleas, or a skin infection, such as ringworm or a staph (bacterial) infection. One mite, latin name Cheyletiella, actually has the nickname ‘walking dandruff’, and actually looks like a piece of dandruff that is walking along your cat’s back! Ringworm is often accompanied with hair loss, redness and scaling and cat lovers need to beware: ringworm can be contagious to humans! A cat with bumps and scaling all over his body may also have a bacterial infection with staph. In all these cases, the best course of action is to take your cat to the veterinarian for evaluation.

Too Fat, Too Stiff, or Too Much Hair

Some cats have dry skin because they have difficulty grooming themselves, for one reason or another. They may be too fat to reach all of their skin and hair with their tongues, or they might have arthritis and be in pain. Some long haired breeds simply have too much hair to keep up with, and these kitties often develop mats. All three of these kitties would benefit from your tender, loving brushing and assistance in grooming. Some long-haired cats require professional grooming to keep hair in tip-top shape.

Hormonal or Internal Conditions

The skin is the largest organ in the body and thusly, the first to suffer when something is going wrong internally. The body takes resources from the skin and sends them to the organ that is having problems, whether that is the liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, or other. A cat with dandruff also shows you that the cat isn’t grooming very well, and may feel too sick to groom excessive hair and skin flakes off himself. If there is no obvious sign of external infection or parasites, it is a good idea to run some labwork, such as bloodwork and urinalysis, to look for problems under the hood.

If all the tests come back normal, it may be that your cat needs an additional supplement for healthy skin and coat: some cats just have extra nutrient needs to maintain a gloss, healthy skin and coat. It could also be that the food you are feeding doesn’t provide the right nutrition. I recommend Life’s Abundance skin and coat supplement and the wellness supplement to promote coat health and reduce dry skin, as well as their high-quality food for over all well-being in your cat.