Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:27 AM

Skin Disorders in Cats: The Role of Nutrition

Another common source of skin problems in cats stems from food allergies. Cats are quite sensitive to toxins of any kind, and their systems often react negatively to the slightest provocation. Many cats have allergies to additives in commercial cat food, even though their owners don't realize this. The allergies cause skin and hair problems that owners often attribute to other sources.

A lackluster coat, dandruff and constant scratching and shedding are signs of nutritional problems, particularly if the cat is young and otherwise healthy. If you've read other posts here on nutrition, then you are familiar with the laundry list of additives that pet food manufacturers put in cat food to make it more acceptable not only to cats, but to their owners. Colorants, artificial flavorings, emulsifiers, stabilizers, preservatives, even massive doses of vitamins and minerals can all cause allergic reactions in your cat. Add to this the poor sources of protein used in these foods (especially dry food) and you can see where problems are inevitable. What are skin and hair made up of, for the most part? Proteins (keratin), of course.

To counter these negative effects, try changing your cat's diet, a little at a time. Take her off of dry food, entirely. Feed a premium canned diet, and don't be afraid to supplement with food that you have cooked, as well as a natural pet (or portion of a human) vitamin tablet daily. Add a bit of kelp powder and a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of good-quality olive oil to the food each day. I guarantee that you will see an enormous change in your cat's skin and coat within six weeks!

Healthy skin is more resistant to injury, infection and, yes, flea infestation. Keep your cat indoors, as well, since this will prevent them coming into contact with both fleas and sources of injury such as cat fights. If your cat has fleas now, give him a bath in a natural shampoo (yours is fine). Keep him indoors from now on, and use a fine-toothed comb to groom him until you are sure there are no more fleas. Feed him the diet recommended above, and you can very possibly say "goodbye forever" to skin problems!

Book of the Week: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. Ignatius J. Reilly, self-proclaimed arbiter of "taste and decency" is an over-educated, obese, and lazy 30-year old whose adventures will make you laugh out loud. It is unfortunate that Toole did not live long enough to write a follow-up to this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Don't miss it!
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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