Is there such a thing as feline dry skin? People search for it on the internet – hence this article. But how do they know or think that their cat’s skin is dry? You can’t see a cat’s skin, except at the extremities of the cat’s body where the fur is thin, and if you part the fur to see the skin you cannot tell if it is dry or not – although see below. People usually decide that their cat might have dry skin because he or she is scratching it.
The foremost text book on cat health, Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated
That said, people scratch themselves when their skin itches and for people that can be caused by dry skin. My skin becomes dry after a shower in winter (colder weather – no sweating to moisten it). It itches. There is no reason to suppose that something similar does not take place with cats. Common sense dictates that frequent bathing can dry the skin of a cat as the soap in the shampoo cleans off the natural oils on the skin. We know about this as people. I don’t think cats need bathing unless there is a good reason – usually a health reason. Show cats are bathed much more frequently to look smart.
Before I make a list of possible causes of an itchy skin (based on the above book), I’d like to mention my boy cat Charlie. He scratched sometimes. It was not a real problem but it was a concern. Did he have dry skin, I thought? After carefully combing him with a flea comb I found the odd very small flea that I had not seen before. They were almost like mites. This was the cause. And you might notice that often cats scratch around the neck and face area. These are the areas where fleas are most likely to congregate. This is a list of probable causes of an itchy skin:
I hope this list helps. What can be perceived as feline dry skin is quite possibly itchy skin and will be usually be caused by an underlying problem, one of which is probably listed above.
Before signing off I’d like to mention one or two underlying illnesses that might cause straight forward feline dry skin1 although the first priority would be to check of the list of causes for an itchy skin in the list above. Apparently, kidney disease, heart disease and hypothyroidism can cause skin problems. For example, heart disease affects circulation which in turn can cause skin cells to die resulting in flaky skin1. Hypothyroidism apparently causes the skin cells to grown more slowly leading to dry skin. Kidney disease can cause some waste to be secreted through the skin appearing as dandruff1. Personally, I am not sure about that but I report it with a reference nonetheless.
Finally, diet can cause dry skin. A diet high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids is beneficial. High quality cat food should be complete and should deal with dietary problems that might tend to produce a dry skin. Low levels of vitamin E resulting from a diet that is too high in fish and particularly tuna can cause feline dry skin1.
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