Skin and Coat Health in Cats
Why is Skin & Coat health important in Cats?
Skin and hair prevent water and heat from leaving their body and also viruses and bacteria from entering into the body.
The skin is made up of flat, tightly packed cells. These cells have tough membranes composed of proteins and fats, and without proper nutrients cell membranes weaken allowing the water to escape and bacteria and viruses to enter.
What keeps the Skin & Coat healthy in Cats?
Nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins - A & B, and minerals - zinc & copper, are important for the skin and coat health in cats.
- The hair shaft is mostly made of alpha-keratin protein. If the cat’s diet does not contain the right amount of protein, the hair may fall, become dry, weak and brittle.
- Proteins and fats are found in both plant and animal-based ingredients. Animal-based proteins contain all the essential amino acids cats need, whereas plant-based proteins may contain only a few. Cats need animal-based proteins for good health.
- There are two essential fatty acids - Linoleic acid and arachidonic acid which maintain skin and coat health in cats. Lack of these fatty acids will result in dull, dry coat, hair loss, greasy skin and increased risk of skin inflammation. Both these are found in animal tissues like chicken fat but vegetable oils such as corn and soya bean are rich in only linoleic acid but do not contain arachidonic acid.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are found in vitamin rich fish oils which help to maintain skin and coat health of a cat.
- Vitamins and minerals are essential for the development of healthy skin and hair. The best way to provide them is through a complete balanced diet.
- Vitamin A is necessary for growth and repair of skin,
- Vitamin E protects skin cells from oxidant damage,
- Vitamin C helps to heal wounds,
- Biotin aids in the utilization of protein,
- Riboflavin (B2) and Zinc are necessary for fat and protein metabolism,
- Copper is essential for tissue, pigment and protein synthesis.
Diet is an important factor for good skin and coat conditions. The most common causes for change in skin and coat condition are changes in season and age of the cat. Some breeds of cats grow a thick coat of hair as winter approaches to keep the heat in cold air out and when summer comes, they shed their thick, heavy coat. Kittens are born with soft fuzzy hair but as they age their hair gets coarser. Pregnant and nursing cats may also experience a change in coat conditions or hair loss.
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