Dermatological problems are not a minor disorder, since this large organ fulfills important functions. For this reason, it is essential to keep skin and coat in an optimal state and diet is a key factor in achieving this .
From SoyUnGato we explain everything you need to know about the skin and hair of your kitten.
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What does food have to do with the skin?
Poor nutrition has a direct impact on the skin . Dermatological problems of nutritional origin are produced by an imbalance in the composition of the food, both due to excess and deficiency.
Externally, we will observe flaking, scabs, loss of hair, presence of fat, itching or dull fur on the cat’s body and, in general, with a bad appearance. On the contrary, a correct diet will provide us with a bright mantle. This symptomatology will appear when the animal takes weeks or even months following an incorrect diet .
The importance of healthy skin
Keeping skin and hair in optimal condition is no small matter. The skin is the body’s protective barrier against external aggressions. Hair also protects against the weather, while maintaining body temperature . Multiple circumstances can damage the skin such as poor nutrition, the presence of parasites such as fleas, ticks or various diseases.
Hair is composed mainly of amino acids , which are the constituents of proteins, essential to replenish the skin and take care of healing when wounds occur. Therefore, proteins are going to be an essential ingredient in the diet of our cats.
Its deficiency can slow hair growth and cause hair loss and skin fragility. Especially for healthy skin amino acids such as lysine, which the cat cannot synthesize, cysteine, arginine or phenylalanine are needed, especially in black-coated cats .
They are lipids that are classified as saturated or unsaturated . Among them, omega 3, omega 6, EPA and DHA stand out. They have beneficial effects on brain and vision development. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect and a protective function of the cardiac and renal systems . In addition, they reduce the risk of tumor development.
We can find omega 3 fatty acids in vegetable oils such as flax, rapeseed or soy. But EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish oils like salmon, mackerel, or herring, and in algae.
They are recommended in the feeding of cats of advanced age or with problems that cause inflammation in a chronic way. This includes joint, digestive or dermatological pathologies.
In addition, the deficiency of fatty acids will affect the condition of the skin. For example, omega 3 is part of the epidermal barrier. Its absence is related to dry skin and allergies . For its part, omega 6 contributes to the reproduction of skin cells and it is essential to supply it to the cat in the diet because it is not capable of synthesizing it.
Fatty acids can be deficient in feed-based diets due to conservation or storage problems that cause these fats to spoil. These cats will present flaking, dull hair, fat in some areas of the body and inflammation from bacterial infections.
Vitamin A stands out, which is responsible for cell turnover and that the cat cannot synthesize. Its deficit, but also its excess, cause alopecia and bacterial infections. Other vitamin deficiencies will also have consequences on the skin and coat.
For example, a lack of vitamin B2 causes dry and red skin. Niacin deficiency causes itching . Lack of biotin is synonymous with seborrhea and alopecia. Vitamin B5 helps prevent infections, allergies and inflammations. Vitamin C is essential to synthesize collagen, thus helping to maintain skin, ligaments and bones.
It should be noted the importance of vitamin E, whose deficiency causes a disease called pansteatitis , characterized by the formation of fatty deposits under the skin that become inflamed and painful.
Zinc increases the speed of cell division. Its lack is the cause of flaking and dry skin. If the deficiency is maintained over time, the skin ends up thickening and depigmenting. Hair is slow to grow and falls out. Infections occur due to a weak immune system.
In cats with copper deficiency we will see how the hair loses its dark color . This happens in black cats fed low-quality diets. They will present reddish or grayish tones in the coat. Copper may be lacking due to being in insufficient quantity in the diet or due to excess calcium or zinc because these excess minerals make their absorption difficult.