While cats spend a huge portion of their day grooming themselves, they can still be prone to dry and sensitive skin. Dry skin can lead to discomfort in your cat and make them feel irritable and itchy. Dry skin can also lead to more shedding. Dandruff can also be a problem for cats and is an allergen for some people. First, consult with a veterinarian to be sure your cat's dry skin is not a symptom of a more serious health condition. If it is not a more serious issue, you can help your cat's skin stay hydrated with several simple home remedies.
Coconut oil for cats
Coconut oil has many uses for humans, but it can also be used for cats. Coconut oil can be used topically to soothe many conditions. Pet MD quotes Dr. Anna Gardner, a holistic veterinarian in Washington, who says, "Using coconut oil for cats can have multiple benefits." Externally, Gardner says, "coconut oil can help with allergies, dry skin, itchiness, and overall coat health." However, coconut oil is not ideal for everyday use. Dr. Jeffrey Stupine, VMD, head veterinarian for wellness at the Pennsylvania SPCA, doesn't recommend giving coconut oil on a regular basis, but he says his colleagues have seen it offer such benefits as treating dermatitis. Dermatitis is a condition where the cat's skin becomes inflamed.
Olive oil and fish oils
If your cat resists coconut oil, try olive oil and fish oil as an alternative. These two oils can be used together to maximize the fatty acids your cat is getting. Dr. Gardner states, "I usually recommend fish oil — including salmon, anchovy, and krill. These have some similar benefits, but not topically. Topically, olive oil can help with skin issues, but this does not have the same anti-inflammatory effects as coconut oil. These supplements have some overlap with coconut oil, but they don't have the same effects. A combination of these fatty oils will also make your cat's coat shinier.
Use a special shampoo
Since cats do so much of their grooming themselves, they don't need bathing very often. But when you do need to bathe them because they are muddy or dirty, be choosy with the ingredients. Certain shampoos dry the skin of your cat. Opt for a hypoallergenic formula and a conditioner that will moisturize your cat's skin advises Vetinfo. Ensure you rinse well since excess shampoo may cause more dandruff. You can also use a cat moisturizer specially formulated for dry skin or dandruff for a post-bath application.
Use a humidifier
Cat dry skin can be a problem, especially in cold winter months when the heat is on indoors. If your cat has skin flakes and dandruff, try using a humidifier. According to PetMD, "a humidifier, in conjunction with a healthy diet, will assist in rejuvenating and re-moisturizing the cat's dry, scaly skin, which is generally caused by a lack of moisture in the home environment." Humans can benefit from added moisture as well, so it's a win-win situation for everyone in your household.
Create some soothing herbal remedies
If your cat is experiencing a lot of itching and scratching, they are feeling uncomfortable and irritable. It could be caused by cat dandruff, allergies, or fleas. Help soothe their discomfort with a homemade dip. You can make a soothing, homemade dip of rosemary, peppermint, or pennyroyal, which is helpful for itching associated with fleas. However, use caution with any essential oils, which can be toxic to cats if ingested, according to PetMD. Always check with your veterinarian when considering any homemade potions such as this. You can also make a tea bath with catnip or aloe to soothe your cat's skin. Topical and all-natural remedies make your cat smell great and can help your cat's skin feel and look its best. Your cat will appreciate the pampering and TLC. Cats need a spa day, too!