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To avoid unwanted disasters such as meaty bones causing splintering and bleeding, never feed your cat table scraps. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, chocolate, grapes, raisins and other foods are also poisonous for kitties.

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Foods for Healthy Hair

By Ann Acker

Foods for Healthy Hair

Has your cat's natural fur coat lost some of its former lustrous sleek shine? This visual signal could be a message to you that your furry friend is not receiving enough of the right nutrients in its diet. Protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are all essential for supporting the skin and coat health of your cat. To understand the role of these nutrients, it's important to first learn a few things about skin and hair.

Medical researchers believe the purpose of skin and hair is to block things from leaving or entering the body. Water and heat are two things that the skin and hair often help your feline to retain, while viruses and bacteria are sent packing.

Your cat's hairy coat is composed almost entirely of protein. If your pet's diet doesn't contain sufficient amounts of certain proteins, the fur literally may fly, since it could fall out. The fur may also become dry, weak and brittle.

Skin, on the other hand, is made up of things called "squamous cells." These are flat cells that are packed tightly together. The cells have tough membranes composed of proteins and fats. Without proper amounts of these nutrients, cell membranes can weaken, which could allow water to escape. At this point, bacteria and viruses may then enter your cat's body more easily.

Essential Amino Acids and Fatty Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Both animal and plant-based ingredients may contain proteins, but those found in animal-derived foods usually contain all of the essential amino acids that your cat will need. Plant-based proteins, however, may contain only some essential amino acids. Your cat therefore needs animal-based proteins to achieve optimal health.

Fats can also be found in both animal and plant-based ingredients. They are incorporated into skin cells as fatty acids. There are two essential fatty acids for skin and coat health. Linoleic acid maintains skin and coat condition in your cat. Without enough linoleic acid, your pet may experience a dull, dry coat, hair loss, greasy skin, and even an increased susceptibility to skin inflammation. Your cat also requires something called arachidonic acid to maintain its skin and coat health.

Both linoleic and arachidonic acid are in the omega-6 fatty acid group. These essential fatty acids are found in animal tissues like chicken fat and in vegetable oils, such as those derived from corn and soybeans.

Most commercial cat foods contain more than adequate amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, but because your feline's body can convert these fatty acids into compounds that promote skin inflammation, it is important to balance the omega 6's in your cat's diet with omega-3 fatty acids, which do not promote inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oils from fish and some plants, such as canola and flax. You have probably heard about the importance of these acids in human health as well. Scientific researchers have found what they believe is the perfect ratio of fatty acids in kitty diets. This is 5-10 omega-6 fatty acids for every 1 omega-3 fatty acid. That delicate balance seems to help cats to achieve a healthy coat and skin.

Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are equally important in the development and maintenance of your cat's skin and fur coat. The best way that you can provide these nutrients is by providing your cat with a complete and balanced diet that contains appropriate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. It is best to do this through your cat's food rather than attempting to make corrections by use of dietary supplements.

While diet may be to blame for your feline's flaky skin and dull coat, other factors are at work too. Aside from nutritional imbalances, common causes for undesired changes to the appearance of your feline's skin and fur include seasonal influences and factors associated with aging.

In terms of the seasons, cold weather usually prompts internal changes that enable your cat to grow a thick coat to help it to lock in heat and to keep cold air out. When the weather warms up, your kitty sheds much of its thick, heavy coat.

As a kitten, your cat likely had soft fuzzy hair, but with age, your little fuzz ball developed a coarser coat. Pregnant felines also may experience a change in coat condition or hair loss. And, as with humans, the hair on your cat as it reaches its senior years may thin out and become coarser. It could even turn white.

Skin and fur problems associated with aging may be mostly out of your hands, but your pet's nutrition isn't. Cats seem to pride themselves on their appearance, and that includes their sleek fur. Don't let your cat down. Feed your feline a balanced diet with appropriate nutrients to help ensure that your cat will look and feel its very best.

is a freelance writer and editor on subjects ranging from cat healthcare to feline antics.


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Posted on July 16, 2008

JODI says: hi. i have a 2 year old cat and about a year ago she started losing hair on her back a little bit. We took her to the vet and she had worms. They gave her med and gave her a shot for the hair loss. now its been half a year and the hair loss is getting worse. i dont really have the money to take her to the vet so i am wondering what could be wrong with her. i also have looked for fleas on a daily basis on both cats and have found nothing. can you please help my mary!!

Posted on January 14, 2008

connie says: what do i do for a shedding cat i started to brush her but it only helps a little. alwo her back twitches do you know what tht could be?

Posted on December 6, 2007

Spring says: I have a cat who is a year old and on the back side of her back by her tail there is hair missing like you can see the skin and now the hair on the bottom of her tail is missing. Any idea as to what it might be, cause now i am noticing that my dog is missing patches of hair in the same spot at the cat, but not as bad.

Posted on October 12, 2007

debbi says: my 13 yr old cat has always done this. It is not worth trying to fix the problem as you will only scare your cat. they cannot reason as to what you are doing, I just sweep up the mess every day--they eat hard food anyways

Posted on November 13, 2007

Janet says: I have a 7 month old kitten. I have always been a dog owner and am not sure about feeding. What would be a good diet for a seven month old. I do not want to over feed and this kitten has a never ending appetite. Also what about vitamins and supplements.

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