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
  • gray and white kitten licking lips ready to eat healthy cat food containing taurine
    gray and white kitten licking lips ready to eat healthy cat food containing taurine

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    The Importance of Taurine in Kitten and Cat Food

    Taurine is an important component found in all IAMS™ kitten and cat foods. This important amino acid is essential for cats of all ages, and critical for healthy development, normal heart muscle function, vision and reproduction. It even aids in digestion!

     

    Unlike other amino acids, taurine is found as a free amino acid in body tissues, such as the heart and eyes, and is not incorporated into proteins.

     

    Most mammals manufacture taurine from other amino acids, but cats and kittens need more than their bodies can produce and rely on their food to make up the difference. Pet food’s animal-based protein ingredients are natural taurine sources, and the amino acid can also be added to pet food recipes on its own.

     

    Why Does IAMS™ Add Taurine to Kitten and Cat Food? 

    All IAMS™ kitten and cat foods are formulated with high-quality animal-based proteins that are naturally rich in taurine as their primary ingredient. So why supplement these foods with additional taurine? Two reasons: natural variability and the production process.

     

    IAMS™ Dry Cat Food: The Natural Variability 

    IAMS™ dry cat and kitten foods include taurine to supplement each food’s primary source of the amino acid — an animal-based protein like chicken, egg, lamb or fish. These natural sources naturally vary in their nutrient content, so adding supplemental taurine helps ensure your cat or kitten is getting enough in their diet every day.

     

    IAMS™ Wet Cat Food: The Production Process 

    For wet food, the canning process itself may affect the complex taurine balance of the food. That means IAMS™ wet cat foods must contain more taurine, as much as twice the taurine found in dry food, to ensure cats are getting enough.

     

    black kitten and white kitten laying on each other under a blanket, relaxed and full on healthy cat food containing taurine

     

    Symptoms of Taurine Deficiency in Cats and Kittens

    Cats and kittens need their taurine! Kittens need taurine for healthy growth and development, and adult cats that don’t get enough taurine can develop serious health conditions. Low levels of taurine put your pet at risk for preventable health conditions that can become serious over time.

     

    Impaired Vision and Blindness 

    Taurine is essential to the proper development and ongoing health of feline eyes, particularly the retinas. Without enough taurine, retinal cells can’t function properly and may die, which can cause impaired vision and even blindness (a process called feline central retinal degeneration).

     

    Heart Disease 

    Taurine plays a key role in supporting cardiovascular health, too. A lack of taurine weakens the heart muscle, which, in turn, can lead to heart failure. This condition is known as dilated cardiomyopathy and can be fatal.

     

    Decreased Reproductive Performance and Growth 

    Optimal reproductive health and growth also rely on taurine to complete a number of important health processes. Maintaining adequate levels during pregnancy, nursing and early growth helps ensure proper structural development for kittens and wellness for the mother.

     

     

    Feeding your pet well is an important part of taking care of them. Learning the importance of ingredients like taurine is one way you can ensure you’re giving them exactly what their body needs. By giving your kitten a healthy start and understanding  their nutritional needs, you’re giving them the best shot at a long, healthy and happy future. Your cat would thank you if they could!

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