It seems that almost overnight Tiger's soft, shiny fur has turned dry and brittle. Your formerly contented pal is scratching, and you notice dandruff. Feline skin and fur problems occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's an internal issue, while other times outside factors may be the culprit.
Abnormally rough fur can be a sign that you're feeding Tiger an inadequate diet. Low-quality bargain foods or poorly balanced home meals might lack nutrients his coat needs to stay in top shape. If you're giving him a premium type of food, he still might be allergic to some ingredient, which ultimately affects his skin and fur. Talk with your veterinarian about what you're feeding Tiger. If your vet suspects an allergy, he may suggest trying an allergen-free food to see if it helps eliminate coat problems.
If your purring pal stays inside all of the time, his built-in grooming tongue most likely can get rid of dirt particles and grime. If you let him wander around outside, or if he gets into something messy, you'll have to give him a bath. While you probably love the floral aroma of your own shampoo, bathing dries out Tiger's skin, removing some of its natural oils and leading to a brittle coat. A shampoo designed for humans may further strip those oils from his healthy coat. Use a shampoo made for cats, and avoid bathing him at all, unless he's really filthy. Usually, all Tiger needs is a solid brushing session to remove dirt and dander from his fur, reducing any need for lathering up.
A skin disorder may be making Tiger's soft, fluffy jacket dry and brittle. Fungal and bacterial infections, as well as parasites, can aggravate his outer layer and make patches of fur fall out. You'll notice redness and swelling surrounding the areas of his bald patches. He'll be uncomfortable, so he'll scratch and chew at the irritated spots, escalating the irritation and fur loss. Take Tiger to your vet before the problem worsens. Your veterinarian can prescribe medications to tame these skin problems.
A hidden health problem may be behind Tiger's sudden onset of dry and brittle fur. Even after your vet puts your pal on a sound diet, if his digestive tract isn't working properly, he won't be able to absorb all of the nutrients his skin needs for health. Malabsorption from gastrointestinal diseases may be a hidden cause of skin and coat problems, says the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Tiger may need X-rays or lab work to determine if his system is properly absorbing enough nutrients from his diet.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.