How to Maintain Cats Coat
Your cat’s skin is the largest organ in his body and, as a result, sufficient time should be spent taking care of it. To help keep your pet healthy, there are regular things you should do, one of which is grooming. This is especially essential in long haired cats to prevent matts and reduce the risk of furballs. This will also help reduce the amount of hair shed in the house as well as encouraging a shiny coat.
Getting your cat used to being groomed regularly will make the grooming process much more pleasant for both you and your cat. Frequent praise for allowing you to groom them is important.
As well as regular brushing, regular flea control with a veterinary recommended product such as Frontline will help keep your cat’s coat and skin healthy. If your cat has fleas then she is likely to over-groom herself and scratch. This can can cause hair loss, sores and irritation to her skin. You should also get into a routine of regularly checking your cat for bites and sore patches that you may not notice otherwise. If you do find a bite or sore on your cat then contact your vet and, in the meantime, prevent licking and scratching of the sore by the use of an Elizabethan Collar. Bathe the area with cool salt water to keep it clean (teaspoon of salt to a pint of water) until you get your pet seen.
Foods for a good coat
For most healthy cats a complete, high quality commercial cat food is usually adequate to maintain a healthy coat. If your cat has a sensitive skin then a more specific skin diet can be fed. If your cat suffers from a skin condition or allergy then your vet may recommend a hypoallergenic veterinary diet. Hypoallergenic veterinary diets either contain proteins that your cat is unlikely to have been exposed to previously (and thus they will have not developed a sensitivity to it), or proteins that have been broken down into very small molecules. If your cat is on a food trial to diagnose a food allergy then your cat will be fed this food as its sole diet for at least 6 weeks. It is important you feed just this food and water, nothing else, as this can jeopardise the food trial.
If your cat is fed a commercially prepared cat food then supplements with vitamins and minerals are not usually necessary. However, if your cat has dry or sensitive skin then adding protectant essential fatty acids into the food can help maintain a healthy coat and skin. One such easy to use product that we would recommend is Viacutin.
Some cats develop allergies as the immune system over-reacts to harmless substances e.g. pollens, house dust mites or food proteins. The result is an itchy cat. The only way to diagnose a food allergy is via a food trial. If a food trial does not stop the itching then further allergy tests can be used to find whether the cat is allergic to fleas or similar. It can be very difficult to manage the itchy cat at home and can require a combination of treatments. Good quality, regular flea control is essential. Causes of itching add up so a cat with an allergy to moulds or pollens will itch much more if there are also fleas present. Once the allergen is identified there is the possibility to undergo a course of “desensitisation”, which involves regular injections with the allergen to build up resistance to it.
Remember, your cat’s coat and skin is a good indicator of their general health and well-being. If you are at all concerned about your cat’s coat then you should speak to your veterinary surgeon who will determine the best course of treatment for your cat.