As a pet owner, you can tell a lot from your cat’s fur. A coat that is soft, silky, and shiny shows that your cat is healthy and has a great diet. Fur that is ungroomed, matted, oily, has dandruff, dry patches and other issues shows something is wrong.
What does unhealthy cat fur look like? Unhealthy cat fur can have many different issues but generally, it looks like a mess. It may look clumpy, dull, matted, or stick out at weird angles. It is normal for an outdoor cat to look disheveled when they come in but they should groom enough for their coat to look normal within 24 hours.
Read further to find out what you should do when your cat has an unhealthy coat
What Causes An Unhealthy Coat?
Cats usually are great at keeping their coats looking good so seeing your cat looking a bit worn around the withers may be troubling. The problem may be easy to resolve, depending on the underlying cause. There are six reasons for a cat’s fur looking unhealthy.
- Skin Problems
- Chronic Diseases
- Lack of grooming
- Diet Causes Many Issues
A bad diet is the most common reason why cats don’t look as good as they should. Cats, like all animals, need nutrients and those come from good food. The first signal that the cat isn’t getting all it should from its food is its coat loses its luster.
After that, it may have some matting, fall out in places, show dry patches, or have dandruff. In some cases, an oily coat could be a sign of bad nutrition.
Pet owners don’t intentionally feed their feline friends badly. Most just assume that one cat food is as good as another. The truth is that some pet food is equivalent to humans eating candy bars all day.
They will cause a hyped animal but with no nutritional value.
Regardless of price, your cat’s food should be appropriate for its life stage. Kittens need different nutrients than adult cats and older cats need a different type of food than young adult cats.
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What to Look for on a Cat Food Label?
Some things to pay attention to on a cat food label are the manufacturer’s name and address, the guaranteed analysis, the ingredient list, and nutritional adequacy.
The types of numbers to pay attention to are the amounts of protein, moisture, crude protein, and crude fat. Ingredients you want in cat food include lysine and leucine, which help maintain bones, muscles, organs, coats, and skin.
Taurine, arachidonic acid, and arginine are also important to have in your cat’s food. Arachidonic acid is important to turn protein in the food into glucose. Arginine removes ammonia from their bodies and taurine helps their heart, digestion, and immune system.
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Parasites Affect Coat
Parasites can be external or internal. External parasites include bugs like fleas. Fleas bite the skin, lay eggs in fur, and can cause a real irritation for your cat. Your feline may not even have many fleas but could be allergic and that will cause skin issues.
Skin where fur is disappearing, where they are biting a lot, or areas where there are small bite marks are indications of fleas. Fleas and ticks are more common in outdoor cats. When checking for both, be sure to look in more hidden places like the inside of their legs or where the front legs join the body.
Fleas and ticks will seek out these sweaty undiscovered areas first. Internal parasites are things like worms that cause your cat to not get the full nutritional value of its food. You may not see any symptoms of this except for the ragged coat. There could be worms around its tail or in its poop. Fortunately, this is highly treatable with a veterinarian’s prescription.
Skin Problems Become Obvious
Your cat may have a skin disease like dermatitis. Dermatitis is caused by mites that burrow into the skin resulting in scabies. Other issues could be dandruff, hair loss, wounds, and dry skin.
Another condition could be overgrooming. Cats that overgroom can result in fur loss and skin irritations. The important question is why your cat is overgrooming. It could be a reaction to fleas, a skin issue, or stress.
The key element in overgrooming is finding target spots. These are areas where the cat licks so much the fur is gone. Red skin is called moist acute dermatitis and can be the result of an infestation or an allergy.
Note any area where your cat’s fur is thinning. Fur should be thick enough to cover the skin all over the body.
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Chronic Diseases Should Be Ruled Out
Many different diseases come with the first symptom being rough fur and poor coat. It could be thyroid, kidney, or intestinal issues, or an immunodeficiency. It could even be cancer. Many of these diseases come with other symptoms like refusing to eat, lethargy, and vomiting.
Stress Can Cause a Bad Coat
Cats can face stress if there are major changes in their life like moving, you having a baby, or bringing in another pet. Stress typically causes overgrooming but is always a possibility when you see a damaged coat. You first must rule out organic causes before thinking stress is the issue.
Lack of Grooming Leads to Messy Coats
Some long-haired cats need some extra help keeping their fur clean even though they groom themselves. Otherwise, it can start to look matted and messy. Then, it can also be a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites.
Older cats of all types may need help grooming themselves as they aren’t as flexible as they once were.
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Pay Attention to Cat’s Grooming Habits
It’s important to know your cat’s grooming habits so you can tell if there are changes. Cats that don’t wash their faces, leave food around the mouth, or have urine or feces around the tail are problematic and should be taken seriously.
Litter stuck in the paws may indicate they are going to the bathroom too much and could be a sign of diabetes. A foul odor from your cat could also indicate a health problem that a vet should investigate.
A Cat’s Coat Is Important
A feline needs a good, healthy coat for several reasons. It provides them with protection from both the cold but also from heat and sun exposure.
It protects them as they explore from things like prickly bushes to attacks from predators or other cats. Fur also serves to communicate as it stands up when they are threatened.
How to Keep a Cat’s Coat Healthy?
Besides keeping your cat on a good diet and well hydrated, you should deworm them and give them proper flea and tick protection. Brushing your cat’s coat regularly will help you check for damaged areas while they are enjoying your attention.
Reduce stress on your cat by keeping them to a solid routine. Cats get upset when the routine changes. Be sure to keep them active as boredom also stresses them.
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Your cat’s fur is the first symptom that something is wrong with your cat. Pay attention to it and don’t ignore it because most problems associated with bad fur can be fixed simply and affordably. However, ignoring the problem could lead to more serious and expensive issues later.