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How to Treat Dry Skin on a Cat

Updated on May 27, 2012
Cat's got an itchy spot
Cat's got an itchy spot | Source

Cats, just like humans, often suffer from dry skin. It is, however, a little more difficult to treat dry skin on a cat than on a human. A human just slaps on some moisturizer and that usually solves the problem; with a cat it is more complicated. There are many, many reasons why a cat suffers from dry skin.

Cats often have a problem with dry skin during the winter months when they might not get outside as much and when the heat has been turned on. The cat may have a flea problem which is causing dry skin patches. The cat might have an allergy to their food. Dry skin can also occur if the cat is being bathed too often; this isn't a problem for most cat owners since they would rather go to war than have to bathe their cat. The cat might be too overweight and is not being groomed properly causing dirt and dander to accumulate in one spot. Finally, the cat might have a medical problem that his causing his dry skin.

Does My Cat Need a Trip to the Vet?

As with anything that is out of the ordinary in your cat's behavior or health, the first thing to do is to take him or her to be checked out by a veterinarian. Dry skin can be caused by many diseases including kidney problems, thyroid problems, heart problems and by diabetes. The cat can also have allergies to their food, to dust or to fleas. The veterinarian can tell you exactly what the problem is and how to go about solving it.

Tools You Might Need to Avoid and Treat Dry Skin on Your Cat

  • a good brush for grooming
  • special shampoo
  • supplements containing omega-3 or fish oil
  • special food

Treatments for Dry Skin on Cats

One way to solve dry skin on a cat is through the food they are given. Foods which contain omega-3 help give a cat healthy skin and fur; vitamin E is also something to look for in foods. Most store-bought generic foods do not contain enough of these two necessities but more and more high quality foods are becoming available and can often be bought through the vet or at your local supermarket. The best foods for your cat contain chicken, turkey and lamb; it is suggested by some that you avoid beef completely. You can also add omega-3 supplements to the cat's diet and add vitamin E or cod liver oil to their food before they eat it.

A simple way to solve dry skin on a cat if the problem is due to dry air in the home is to invest in a humidifier; this will moisten the air and will be good for both you and your cat.

Making sure your cat is groomed consistently will help cut down on dry skin. A brush or a fine comb will ensure that dandruff, dander and fleas will be kept off your cat's skin. Often, if a cat is overweight that can affect the efficiency of brushing him or her; your vet can recommend healthy ways for your cat to lose weight.

Dry skin can make your cat miserable
Dry skin can make your cat miserable | Source

And, last but not least there is shampooing. Some cats don't mind being bathed, but most will put up a fight. However, shampooing is often the only way left to treat dry skin on a cat and bathing is still the best way to get rid of a flea infestation. But, too much bathing can also cause dry skin; it is a thin line. There are several shampoos available that can treat and soothe your cat's dry skin. Thankfully, there are even some shampoos that don't require water and are just combed out.

Your Cat Will be Happy When He No Longer Has Dry Skin

Hopefully, all these tips can help you to treat dry skin on your cat. Our cats are important to us and we don't want them to suffer in any way. Even though they may think we are being cruel to them when we try to help, they will appreciate it in the long run. Making the changes in their food will not only help with dry skin but it will make them healthier in every way and will help to ensure that they are with us for a long time.


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  • ethel smith profile image

    Eileen Kersey 5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

    Beautiful looking cat. Such an alert face. I have had various dogs down the years and two have had similar probs. One needed bathing almost constantly to get the problem under control. We used Malseeb.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Jimmy, I'm sure some of the natural solutions can work for dogs as well. Probably for humans too :)

  • jimmythejock profile image

    James Paterson 5 years ago from Scotland

    Hi UW, I wonder if this would also work on dogs? my dog has really bad dry skin but anything the Vet has prescribed has never touched it.....jimmy

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    Thanks for this information. I had to change food for my cat after 6 years of being on the same food he started getting sick to his stomach. He is still on a good brand name that he tolerated well. The vet gave me some oil to put on his food, but I had forgotten about that until now.

    He seems to have dandruff and I brush him every night. He is fairly good about a bath also, so maybe it is time for another one. He is long hair and takes a long time to dry, so I don't bathe him too often as he walks around the house for a long time trying to figure out what to do with himself. I appreciate your advice and will follow it.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    I got bitten by my cat once, luckily while the vet was making a house call. He took me right to the doctor and I got a tetnus shot. I have a supply of antibiotic cream for when my cat gives me "love bites".

    GoodLady, I can't imagine olive oil will hurt.

  • Janis Goad profile image

    Janis Goad 5 years ago

    I love to watch Louie getting a bath. He is so calm. My cats run away when I try to bathe them, and I don't do it. I hope they don't meet a skunk.

    I tried a hair drier once, and my cat bit me. I learned the hard way that cats' mouths are quite septic, so if you get bitten, go immediately for antibiotics. I left it for 24 hours, in my ignorance, and ended up needing IV drip to combat the virulent infection, which had spread rapidly.

    Towels are way better than hair driers for drying cats!!

  • GoodLady profile image

    Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

    Great video. Thanks for including it. I wonder if I could wash my 17 year old cat who hasn't had a bath for a year?

    I thought olive oil was good for cat skin too.

    I like your Hub!