As a cat lover, you would have noticed how your cat can spend hours grooming her lovely coat. Nature intended it that way by supplying her with all the right equipment to take care of her coat – from a flexible spine to manoeuvre herself to reach just about anywhere, to a barbed tongue to clean her fur. Teeth remove sticky dirt and her front paws complete the task where her tongue can’t reach.
But all that relentless grooming will help nothing to ensure that her coat is healthy if she doesn’t receive nutritional food. “Food plays an important role in coat condition as most of the required elements for a healthy coat are consumed through the diet, thus nourishing from within,” explains Suretha van Breda, technical manager – Premix, Trouw Nutrition.
So it is crucial that your cat consumes important nutrients, and all of the essential supplements should be contained in her food. “A balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is essential, as well as vitamins and trace minerals with biotin, zinc, copper and selenium playing a major role,” says Suretha.
She adds that there are various supplements, mainly in oil form, on the market that can assist with a healthy coat. “All of these mainly contribute to the omega-6 and omega-3 requirement. Oils high in omega-3 are especially helpful in giving a healthy, shiny coat. However, a scientifically balanced and complete commercial diet should not need any further supplementation – especially if you feed your cat a diet designed to promote a healthy coat,” advises Suretha.
It can take anywhere between four to eight weeks into supplementation to see a difference in your cat’s coat, but in some cases, it can take a bit longer, depending on the coat condition prior to supplementation.
One factor that influences your cat’s coat condition is stress. If she stresses too much, she might lick herself excessively, which causes hair loss. See your vet for professional help.
Nobody likes creepy-crawlies like ticks and fleas, and neither does your cat. The constant itching might drive you both up the wall. Have her on a good tick and flea prevention programme and remember to deworm her regularly as well.
Another source of constant itching is allergies. Consult your vet for an allergy test to determine the source of your cat’s allergies, so that she can be treated accordingly.
“Regular cat grooming allows you to spend quality time bonding with your pet and gives you the opportunity to check her body condition and spot any unusual signs of health problems, such as lumps or bumps,” says Amy Westerman, sales and marketing director, Valemount Trading.
She adds that grooming is very important for your cat’s coat:
- Circulation is stimulated.
- Muscle tone is improved.
- Fur is smoothed down for better insulation.
- Glands at the base of the coat are stimulated to waterproof the fur.
- Sebum is spread evenly, which helps to waterproof and protect the coat and skin.
- In hot weather, the saliva spread during grooming helps to keep your cat cool.
Try to start grooming your cat from an early age so that it becomes a normal part of her routine.