cat sleeping

How Nutrition Affects Your Cat’s Skin and Coat Health

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.

cat with messy hair 

Without Proper Nutrition

  • Dry, weak and brittle hair
  • Hair loss
  • Greasy skin
  • Dull hair coat
 
animated cat sitting 

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.

fatty acid comparison 
 

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.