How Nutrition Affects Your Cat’s Skin and Coat Health
How Nutrition Affects Your Cat’s Skin and Coat Health

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How Nutrition Affects Your Cat’s Skin and Coat Health

This article is part of a series on how to spot signs of a healthy cat. You can learn more about the key signs here.
 

Your cat’s skin and coat help keep viruses and bacteria from entering the body and prevent water and heat from leaving it. And because nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins and minerals play crucial roles in your cat’s skin and coat health, it’s important to make sure your cat is receiving the right types and amounts. IAMS™ cat foods are designed to provide your cat with the nutrition they need to support their skin and coat health.

 

 

Without Proper Nutrition

  • Dry, weak and brittle hair
  • Hair loss
  • Greasy skin
  • Dull hair coat

 

 

With Proper Nutrition

  • Smooth and glossy hair
  • Supple, clear skin

 

 

Your Cat's Protein Needs

Your cat’s hair coat is composed almost entirely of protein. If your cat’s diet doesn’t contain enough quality protein, her hair may fall out or become dry, weak and brittle.
 

But not all proteins are alike. Proteins are found in both animal- and plant-based ingredients. Animal-based proteins contain all of the essential amino acids cats need, while plant-based proteins may contain only some. Cats need the nutrients in animal-based protein sources for the best health.

 

 

Your Cat's Fat Needs

Fats also can be found in both animal- and plant-based ingredients, and are incorporated into skin cells as fatty acids. Three fatty acids help maintain your cat’s skin and coat condition:

  • Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid found in animal tissues such as chicken fat and vegetable oils such as corn oil and soybean oil
  • Arachidonic acid, found in animal tissues such as chicken fat
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, found in vitamin-rich fish oils

 

Without these fatty acids, cats may experience a dull, dry coat, hair loss and greasy skin.

 

 

How Hydration Plays a Role

To promote your cat’s skin health and elasticity, make sure to provide clean, fresh water at all times. If you’re worried that your cat isn’t getting enough water, try switching to wet cat food, such as IAMS™ Perfect Portions™ Indoor Cuts in Gravy, which has a higher moisture content than dry food and can provide your cat with the additional hydration they need.

 

 

How Much Linoleic Acid Does My Cat Need?

Most cat foods contain more than the required amount of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. However, IAMS research shows that it is not just the amount, but the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids that is most beneficial to cats.
 

The optimal omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio to maintain a healthy skin and coat in cats is between 5:1 and 10:1. In other words, five to 10 omega-6 fatty acids should be present for every one omega-3 fatty acid.

 

 

Your Cat’s Vitamin and Mineral Needs

Vitamins and minerals are essential for the development of healthy skin and coat. The best way to provide them is through a complete and balanced diet rather than through supplements.

Vitamin or Mineral Role in Skin and Coat Health
Vitamin A Necessary for growth and repair of skin
Vitamin E An antioxidant that helps maintain the health of skin cells
Vitamin C An antioxidant that helps maintain the health of skin cells
Biotin Aids in the utilization of protein
Riboflavin (B2) Necessary for fat and protein metabolism
Zinc Necessary for fat and protein metabolism
Copper Involved in tissue, pigment, and protein synthesis

 

 

The protein, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals in your cat’s food all play a vital role in your cat’s skin condition and coat health. While other factors, including the season and your cat’s age, can also affect the health of your cat’s hair and skin, optimal nutrition can help support a shiny coat and healthy skin.

 

 

How Nutrition Affects Your Cat’s Skin and Coat Health
How Nutrition Affects Your Cat’s Skin and Coat Health
How Nutrition Affects Your Cat’s Skin and Coat Health
How Nutrition Affects Your Cat’s Skin and Coat Health
  • Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?
    Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?

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    Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?

    An upset stomach is more common in cats than you might think. But how can you tell if it's a serious problem?

    Every cat owner recognizes the warning signs of an upset feline stomach: the mournful meow, gagging, and heaving retch. But in a flash, the cat seems to snap back to good health while you're left scrubbing the carpet.

    The scenario is a familiar one for Cynthia Bowen of Cleveland, Ohio. As the owner of four Maine Coons, Bowen has cleaned her share of messes. "It would happen every couple of months or so," she says. "Otherwise, they were perfectly healthy."

    Although it's not a pleasant subject, vomiting is something cats seem to do almost on cue. Many cat owners accept this as a natural part of owning a pet, but it doesn't have to be that way. Knowing what triggers an upset stomach and what you can do about it will make for a better relationship with your cat.

     

    Cause for Alarm?

    Repeated cat vomiting should never be ignored because it can lead to dehydration. But, because vomiting is common in cats, how do you know what's normal? "A general guideline is that if the cat is vomiting one to three times a month, we consider this 'normal,'" says Dr. William Folger, a DVM from Houston.

    He considers it serious if the vomiting occurs twice daily for two or three days. If your cat stops eating, seems to have stomach pain, or retches continuously, or if there's blood in the vomit, take her to a veterinarian. And, as always, if you're suspicious that a lingering problem could be harmful to your pet, call your veterinarian. A visit to the office can help relieve your cat's discomfort and your worries as well.

     

    Why Cats Vomit

    Many owners attribute their cat's vomiting to hairballs, but that's not the only culprit. "It's careless to assume that most cases of vomiting in cats are due to hairballs," says Dr. Folger. Two other frequent causes of an upset stomach are:

    • Eating too fast. Cats sometimes eat too much, too fast. When the stomach wall expands too quickly, a signal is sent to the brain to cause regurgitation. In these cases, the mess on your floor is from regurgitation, not actual vomiting. When a cat regurgitates, he brings up fluid and food from his esophagus by opening his mouth–unlike vomiting, where there's gagging and retching. Regurgitated food is still formed, and may smell fermented. "Cats that eat too quickly because they are gluttonous or stressed by food bowl competition can regurgitate right after eating," says Dr. Sara Stephens, a DVM from Montana. But don't assume regurgitation is always a case of eating too fast. It could be caused by esophageal problems, obstruction of the digestive tract, hairballs, or dehydration. If you've forced your cat to eat slowly and he still has problems, contact a veterinarian.
       
    • Curiosity. Grass, carpet, and toilet paper are just a few things cats may digest and later vomit. The vomiting is a protective mechanism–nature's way of cleansing your cat’s system. Sometimes, though, curiosity can lead to more serious problems. String, toy parts, and feathers are favorites of playful felines and can lodge in the stomach or intestine, causing repeated vomiting and severe distress. If your cat exhibits these symptoms, take her to a veterinarian immediately; surgery is often necessary to remove the object.

     

    Preventative Measures

    Often, owners accept their pet's vomiting as a natural part of their behavior, but just because cats seem to have more than their fair share of tummy troubles doesn't mean you have to sit idly by.

    One simple preventative measure is to get your fast-eating cat to slow down or to simply eat less. Stephens recommends smaller portions, elevating your cat's food dish slightly, or putting an object, such as a ball, into the dish. The cat will be forced to eat around the ball, and thus her intake will be slowed. If you do this, make sure the ball isn't small enough to swallow. And you may need to feed cats in a multiple-cat household at different times and places to reduce competitive eating.

    If simple solutions don't work, watch your cat's eating behavior and reactions. Bowen, for example, tried changing her cats' diets. "Since switching to IAMS®, they rarely throw up," Bowen says.

     

    "Usually, when you change to a higher-quality diet, there is no problem," Stephens says. Here are some tips for helping make sure your cat's change is as successful and comfortable as possible:

    • Go slowly. Make the transition gradually to allow your cat time to adjust. "Make sure the cat eats something every day," Stephens advises. "A cat that quits eating suddenly can develop liver problems."
       
    • Add appeal. Switching from wet to dry or vice versa should also be done gradually. Many cats find canned food more palatable. If you switch to dry, add water and warm it slightly for more appeal. Discard uneaten food after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage.
       
    • Measure up. How much should you feed? Your cat's age, sex, breed, activity level, and overall health need to be taken into consideration. Talk with your veterinarian, then read the manufacturer's recommendations. Premium foods like IAMS cat foods are more nutrient-dense than many non-premium diets, so don't be surprised if the recommended amounts seem low.
       
    • Pay attention. Beyond careful measuring, also regularly weigh your cat and adjust the feeding amount accordingly after switching to a premium food. Your cat may appear happy if you overfeed him. But over time, he may become overweight. Tummy troubles can be in the past with your veterinarian’s help and a little effort on your part.

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