Causes of Dry Skin on Cats

Dry skin on cats is itchy and uncomfortable, and you may notice dandruff and excess shedding. Here are some of the most common causes of cat skin problems.

Lack of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

One of the most common causes of dry skin in cats is a poor diet. Your cat's body uses fatty acids, especially Omega 3 fatty acids, to produce skin cells. Some lower quality cat foods do not contain them and even premium foods may not provide enough for your cat. If he doesn't get enough of these fatty acids, he can develop skin problems.

A diet high in fish, especially tuna, can lead to low levels of vitamin E which can also cause dry, itchy skin.

Allergies From Food, Dust and Fleas

Allergies in cats often show themselves as dry, itchy skin. Food, environmental pollutants and inhalants like dust can all cause allergic reactions in your cat.

Though it can be difficult to track down what your cat is reacting to, food allergies are a good place to start looking. Many cats are allergic to beef, and cat foods often contain beef and beef by-products. If you see meat by-products listed on your cat food label, it probably contains beef. Corn and wheat gluten is another common allergen in cats, and many foods, even premium brands, use it as filler.

Fleas are another common source of allergies in cats.

Frequent Bathing That Removes Essential Oils

Bathing your cat is sometimes necessary. It's the only way to remove grease, oil or dirt from your cat's coat. However, shampoos contain soaps that strip the essential oils from your cat's coat, so frequent bathing, especially if you don't use moisturizers, can lead to skin problems like dandruff and dry, itchy skin.

Diseases that Can Dry Skin

Sometimes dry skin in cats is a symptom of a health problem that requires veterinary consultation.

Kidney disease, common in older cats, may cause skin problems. When your cat's kidney function decreases, waste that is normally excreted through the urine builds up in the blood. The liver filters what it can, but some of the waste is secreted through the skin and appears as dandruff.

Heart disease can lead to poor circulation to your cat's skin. When the skin does not receive the necessary amount of oxygen, skin cells will die. You will see this as dry, flaky skin.

Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) is rare in cats, but it can cause skin problems in your cat. The thyroid produces too little of the hormones that control his metabolism, so hair-producing cells slow down, leading to less hair growth. Likewise, skin cell growth also slows, and your cat develops dry, itchy skin and dandruff.

Helping your dry-skin cat may require some investigation or a visit to your vet. The one thing you can be sure of, however, is that cat coat care starts from the inside.