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How to Decipher Cat Food Product Labels

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Why Nutrition in Cat Food Is Key for Shiny Coats

Why Is Nutrition Important to Skin and Coat Health?

Nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals are important players in the skin and coat health of dogs and cats. To understand their role, it is necessary to first understand skin and hair.
 

The purpose of skin and hair is to block things (such as water or heat) from leaving, or things (such as viruses and bacteria) from entering the body.
 

The hair coat is composed almost entirely of protein. If an animal's diet doesn't contain adequate protein quantity and quality, hair may fall out, or become dry, weak, and brittle.
 

Skin is made up of squamous cells, which are flat cells tightly packed together. These cells have tough membranes that are composed of proteins and fats. Without proper amounts of these nutrients, cell membranes weaken, allowing water to escape and bacteria and viruses to enter more easily.

 

 

Essential Amino Acids and Fatty Acids in Cat Food

Proteins are found in both animal-based and plant-based ingredients. Animal-based proteins contain all the essential amino acids cats need, whereas plant-based proteins may contain only some essential amino acids. Cats need animal-based proteins to achieve optimal health.
 

Fats also can be found in both animal-based and plant-based ingredients, and they are incorporated into skin cells as fatty acids. There are two essential fatty acids for skin and coat health. Linoleic acid maintains skin and coat condition in dogs and cats. Without enough linoleic acid cats may experience dull, dry coat, hair loss, greasy skin and increased susceptibility to skin inflammation. Cats also require arachidonic acid for normal skin and coat health.
 

Both of these essential fatty acids are omega-6 fatty acids and are found in animal tissues such as chicken fat. Linoleic acid is also found in some vegetable oils, such as corn and soybean oils. Most commercial cat diets contain more than adequate amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.
 

Because these fatty acids can be converted to compounds that increase susceptibility to skin inflammation, it is important to balance the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in the diet with omega-3 fatty acids, which do not reduce susceptibility to inflammation.
 

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oils from fish and some plants (canola and flax).
 

IAMS™ research has found that combining fat sources in the diet at a ratio of five to 10 omega-6 fatty acids to one omega-3 fatty acid results in excellent skin and coat health.

 

 

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are essential for the development of healthy skin and hair coat. The best way to provide these nutrients is through a complete and balanced diet containing appropriate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals rather than through supplements.

Vitamin or Mineral Important for Skin and Coat Health
Vitamin A Necessary for growth and repair of skin
Vitamin E Protects skin cells from oxidant damage
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

 

 

Changes in Coat Condition

Diet is often believed to be a factor when changes in skin and coat condition are noticed. The most common causes of these changes, however, are season and life stage.
 

As cold weather approaches, most dogs and cats grow a thick coat to help keep heat in and cold air out. As the weather begins to warm up, they shed the thick, heavy coat.
 

Most kittens are born with soft, fuzzy hair, but as they age, a coarser coat grows. Pregnant or lactating cats also may experience a change in coat condition or hair loss.

  • The Cat Personality Awards: The Unique Temperaments of Popular Cat Breeds
    The Cat Personality Awards: The Unique Temperaments of Popular Cat Breeds

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    The Cat Personality Awards: The Unique Temperaments of Popular Cat Breeds

    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.
     

    Cats don’t lack personality; that’s for sure. They can be shy, outgoing, snuggly, independent, energetic, relaxed and everything in between. Yet some breeds tend to exhibit certain traits more strongly than others. Here are our picks for what we’re calling the Cat Personality Awards.

     

     

    The friendliest cat breed:


    Maine coon

    This larger cat has a big heart to match. They’re often very social and happy to chat with you, whether they’re curled up on your lap or following you around the house. They make excellent family pets because more family members means more people to snuggle and play with.
    Also outgoing: Ragdoll, Siamese, Burmese

     

     

    The most laid-back cat breed:


    Ragdoll

    Gentle and calm, this soft and silky-furred feline is friendly without being demanding. Ragdolls are usually totally cool sharing a house with other pets and kids. They don’t stress much about routine changes or even being carried around. Their motto? It’s all good.
    Other cool kitties: Scottish fold, Birman, British shorthair

     

     

    The most playful cat breed:


    Domestic shorthair

    Making up around 90% of cats in the U.S., with more than 80 colors and patterns, domestic shorthairs are a melting pot of different breeds. They were originally working cats used to hunt mice and other critters on farms. They still love to stalk, hunt and pounce on toys and play games with their owners — so expect to spend lots of energetic playtime together.

    Also ready to play: Siamese, Maine coon, Manx

     

     

    The most independent cat breed:


    Persian

    This popular breed has been around humans since the 1600s, but is satisfied doing its own thing. Gentle, docile and quiet, Persian cats don’t insist on a lot of attention. They’re just as content sitting on your lap or observing what’s going on by themselves from a sunny perch across the room. They can be discerning in who they give their affection to, but you’ll be on their good side once you earn their trust.

    Also fine on their own: Russian blue, American shorthair, Norwegian Forest cat

     

     

    The most trainable cat breed:


    Abyssinian

    The idea of training a cat may seem hilarious, but the curiosity and intelligence of Abyssinians make them highly trainable. Some can even be taught tricks or to walk on a leash and harness. Training and playing games are perfect ways to direct their affectionate energy.
    Also eager to learn: Bengal, Siamese, American shorthair

     

     

    The cleanest cat breed:


    Sphynx

    Owning this affectionate, hairless breed means you can spend more time cuddling and less time lint-rolling your clothes. They do require regular baths, but that just means more time to hang out together.

    Other neat freaks: Siamese, Russian blue

     

     

    The best cat for first-time owners:


    it’s a toss-up!

    Thinking of getting your first kitty? It’s hard to pick just one breed, so we’ve got three:
     

    • Maine coons are super friendly and charming, and adapt well in a variety of living situations.
    • Siamese are clean, love to talk and are very loyal.
    • American shorthairs are smart, playful and independent.
       

    Remember, most cats — especially those found in shelters — are a mix of breeds, which just means they often combine the best of all cat personality traits! Whatever personality you’re looking for in a cat, you’ll know it when you find your fuzzy soulmate.

    The Cat Personality Awards: The Unique Temperaments of Popular Cat Breeds
    Maine coon
    Ragdoll Cat
    domestic  shorthair
    Persian Cat
    Abyssinian Cat
    Sphynx Cat
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