He does a pretty good job of grooming himself, but if your cat is suffering from a dull coat,
here’s how you can help.
If you have cats, you know how it is. They believe they’re beautiful, no matter the condition of their coat. To them, it’s the most beautiful coat that’s ever existed!
Like dogs, however, cats may have dull or sparse coats that just don’t reflect a healthy condition. If that’s the case with your cat—maybe you just picked up a stray, or adopted a cat from the shelter that’s not looking too good—what can you do to encourage a shiny, vibrant coat?
What Causes a Dull Coat?
There are many factors that can contribute to a dull, lifeless coat. The cat may also have dry, flaky skin to go along with it. One of the most common causes is poor nutrition, which is often the case with stray cats, shelter animals, or even aging cats. Cats need a healthy diet with a lot of protein (even more protein than dogs), vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.
Many of today’s “low-fat” cat foods will cause a cat to have a dull coat. If your cat is overweight, try cutting back on carbohydrates rather than healthy fats. Switch to a premium cat food or homemade diet with plenty of protein and extra fatty acids. Make sure the food you’re feeding your cat has a real protein source named first in the ingredient list, and is full of real, nutritious food items without harmful by-products, grains, and chemical fillers.
Other causes of a dry coat may include:
- Over-bathing—bathing too often can strip the skin of important oils that condition the hair.
- Overweight—when cats get fat, they may no longer be able to reach their entire bodies for cleaning. This can lead to an unkempt coat.
- Age—as cats get older, they may become less flexible or struggle with arthritis, which can limit movement and the ability to groom themselves.
- Medical conditions—kidney problems, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and other illnesses can affect the appearance of the coat.
- Parasites—fleas, ticks, and worms affect the skin and coat.
Check with your veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions that may be affecting your cat before trying at-home remedies for a dull coat.
Natural Ways to Encourage a Glossy Coat
Once you’ve dealt with any health issues, try the following to encourage a healthy coat in cats. Remember that cats are always grooming themselves, which makes it important to be sure anything you use on their coats is safe for them to ingest.
- Omega-3 supplements: Supplementing your cat’s diet with fatty acids like those found in salmon and other fish oils will likely have a noticeable affect on the coat within 4-6 weeks. Store-bought pet foods may list omega-3s as being in the formula, but heat and processing can make these sources less effective. If your cat’s coat is dull, consider adding some extra fish oil to the food. Feeding them real tuna or salmon is even better!
- Brush: Particularly if your cat is getting older, he or she may need some help with grooming. Brush your cat more often to help stimulate the hair follicles and get the natural oils distributed throughout the hairs. Use a comb to detangle mats and long hair.
- Limit baths: Unlike dogs, cats rarely need baths. Save them for when the cat is especially dirty, greasy, sticky, or otherwise unable to get themselves clean. Then be sure to use a gentle cat shampoo and finish with a conditioning rinse.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is safe if ingested in cats, and contains fats critical for healthy skin and hair. If your cat likes it, add a small spoonful to her food. You can also safely massage some into the skin and hair.
- Herbs: You have to be particularly careful with herbs, as some are toxic to cats, including borage, eucalyptus, and comfrey. Some are safe, however, and can help encourage healthy skin and coat. Check with your vet first, then try goldenseal as a natural disinfectant on wounds, and to help soothe skin allergies. Cats are very sensitive to oils, however, so if they don’t like the smell, they will likely do everything they can to get it off their fur, rendering it useless. Let the cat sniff it first, and always use the oil diluted.
Do you have tips for keeping a cat’s coat healthy and shiny? Please share your ideas.