Although skin and coat issues can have many causes, diet is a high priority. If your cat has poor skin or coat, be sure to have a veterinarian check them for health issues such as skin infections, fleas, ear mites, or hyperthyroid. Once your cat has a clean bill of health, choosing the perfect cat food for skin and coat can help keep their coat beautiful and help repair any past damage.
Healthy skin craves fats. However, these cannot be just any kind of fats. Foods must have the correct omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. This ratio is ideally 6:1 or less in a cat food to promote healthy skin and coat. An absolute maximum for this ratio is 10:1.
Foods must also have enough of certain kinds of fats, such as arachidonic acid, in order to promote healthy cat skin. Cats have much more complex dietary fat requirements than humans, due to reliance on animal fats in their diet. The minimum legal requirements for essential fatty acids in cat food are behind the times, and unfortunately, many cat foods are simply inadequate. Choosing the best cat food for healthy skin and coat means it must have an adequate source of EPA, DHA, and arachidonic acid. Typically this means that fish oil and chicken fat must be on the ingredient list.
Hydration is also important for healthy cat skin, and it is recommended to feed all cats wet food in their diet. This will not only help with keeping hydrated but will help control fullness, calorie consumption, and aid in kidney health.
Grooming is also an essential part of keeping cats’ coats healthy. Many overweight cats have issues with grooming because they simply cannot reach. Weight loss should be the number one goal to help overweight cats’ skin and coat. Additionally, senior cats with arthritis may be hesitant to groom as well as they once did, so aiding with arthritis by feeding glucosamine will help the skin and coat of senior cats.
Best 9 Cat Foods for Dry Flaky Skin
Best All-Natural Wet Cat Food For Healthier Skin
Lotus Chicken Pate
Lotus is a family-owned company that makes top-notch food in their own micro-cannery. The majority of their canned cat foods have excellent omega-3 levels, and their chicken pate is no exception. Flaxseed, New Zealand Green Mussel, and salmon oil all bring the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio to an extremely low 0.4:1.
Overall, this food is 23% fat on a dry matter basis, which is a great amount when targeting healthy skin. In addition to the omega-3 rich fats added, chicken has a naturally high level of arachidonic acid, another fat essential for healthy skin.
This food is great for skin and coat health in all ages, but it especially stands out for senior cats. The New Zealand green mussel is a natural source of glucosamine and is thought to help with arthritis. Phosphorus is also well controlled, at 0.82% on a dry matter basis, which will help keep senior kidneys healthy.
Best All-Natural Dry
Nulo Freestyle Turkey and Duck
Menhaden Fish Meal, Deboned Cod and Ground Flaxseed all add a huge omega-3 punch to this cat food. The overall omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 2:1, with plenty of the essential EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.
Other ingredients contributing to the 20% dry matter fat content of this food are turkey, chicken fat, and duck. This ensures plenty of healthy fats for skin health, including arachidonic acid.
This food has many non-skin benefits too. The carbohydrate content is a well controlled 24% on a dry matter basis. This is very low for a dry cat food. The phosphorus content is also well controlled, at 1.0% on a dry matter basis, helping keep cat kidneys healthy.
Nulo was started as a pet food brand in 2009 and has never had a recall, despite outsourcing the manufacturing of their foods. Ingredients tend to be high-end and the company has a decent understanding of the nutrition of their foods.
Best Trusted Brand Wet Food For Skin and Coat Care – Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Cuisine Salmon & Spinach Medley
Best Trusted Brand Wet Food For Skin and Coat Care
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Cuisine Salmon & Spinach Medley
These very tasty salmon pieces in gravy offer an excellent omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 3:1. Salmon, chicken fat, soybean oil, and fish oil are the main sources of fat in this food, indicating an excellent amount of arachidonic acid, EPA and DHA. The overall dry matter fat content is 25.2%.
The ingredient list for this food is excellent as well. No by-products are listed and ingredients appear to be of high quality. The only downside on this ingredient list is the use of wheat gluten, a cheap plant protein that is of less nutritional value to cats compared to animal proteins. However, this minor criticism is greatly outweighed by all of the benefits of this food.
Best Trusted Brand Dry – Royal Canin Hair and Skin Care
Best Trusted Brand Dry
Royal Canin Hair and Skin Care
Just as the name says, this cat food has been specially formulated for skin and coat health. Ingredients such as chicken fat and fish oil have been included in this food to create the perfect balance of healthy fats. The overall fat content of this food is 22% on a dry matter basis and the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 5:1.
A huge benefit to Royal Canin, is that they back up their formulas with extensive research. This food is great for skin and coat not only in nutritional theory, but in studies the company has conducted as well. Additionally this food does a great job of keeping phosphorus content low, at 1.0% on a dry matter basis.
Best on a Budget Wet Cat Food For Healthy Skin and Coat – Avoderm Natural Chicken Formula
Best on a Budget Wet Cat Food For Healthy Skin and Coat
Avoderm Natural Chicken Formula
Although there are many cheaper canned cat foods available in pet stores, we believe Avoderm is the best healthy skin and coat choice for the budget conscious cat owner. Large 5.5 oz cans make this food more affordable than small 3 oz cans of cat food. The cost of this Avoderm food is at least 25% less than other canned cat foods on our list.
Avoderm still packs an omega-3 punch, with an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 5:1. Omega-3s come from the ocean fish in this food, ensuring a high level of EPA and DHA. The food is 32% fat on a dry matter basis, which mostly comes from the chicken and avocado oil as well as the ocean fish. Avocado oil is generally considered a very healthy oil with many skin benefits.
Additionally, Avoderm has a good quality and safety track record. They make all of their own foods under the company name Breeder’s Choice in a facility in California.
Best on a Budget Dry – Iams Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion & Skin Turkey
Best on a Budget Dry
Iams Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion & Skin Turkey
This food has a much lower cost that the other dry cat foods on this list, and accordingly it is of much lower quality. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of this food is higher than our target, at a 10:1 ratio. However, this food has been specifically formulated for skin and coat health, so it is a reasonable choice for the budget-conscious cat owner.
Fish oil is used in this Iams formula in order to provide EPA and DHA omega-3s. Chicken fat is the ingredient which provides arachidonic acid. The overall fat content is only 16% on a dry matter basis, but this is certainly enough to help skin and coat.
The primary reason this food is more affordable than others is due to the high carbohydrate content. The 40% carbohydrate level on a dry matter basis is very high for a cat food and indicates that the food is primarily plant material. This promotes diabetes and obesity in cats and thus this food is only recommended if price is a major priority.
Best Wet Food for Skin/Coat Care in Overweight Cats – Nulo Freestyle Minced Salmon and Turkey
Best Wet Food for Skin/Coat Care in Overweight Cats
Nulo Freestyle Minced Salmon and Turkey
Wet food is the ideal choice to help cats lose weight. If your cat is overweight we recommend feeding an exclusively wet food diet, three times a day. Once in the morning, once in the evening and once before bed to help keep them full through the night.
Nulo Freestyle Minced Salmon and Turkey not only has a low calorie count, at 75 calories per a 3 oz can, it also has an excellent omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2:1. The omega-3s in this food come from salmon and ground flaxseed. Other fats come from turkey and chicken fat. The overall dry matter fat content is only 17%, which is much lower than the other canned foods we have chosen, but this is to help reduce calories and aid in weight loss.
To further help with weight loss this food has several sources of soluble fiber, including flaxseed, guar gum, pumpkin and inulin. This will help keep your cat feeling full between meals and helps prevent hunger during the weight loss process.
Best for Overweight Cats Dry – Natural Balance Reduced Calorie
Best for Overweight Cats Dry
Natural Balance Reduced Calorie
Although we recommend a 100% wet food diet for any cats trying to lose weight, we understand that this is not possible in some situations. At only 337 calories per a cup, Natural Balance has made a cat food which is great for watching weight and for skin and coat health.
The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in this food is 6:1, which has omega-3s coming from salmon meal, and salmon oil. Chicken fat is included in the ingredients, to ensure ample arachidonic acid. The overall dry matter fat content of the food is 12%, which is a good balance of skin health and maintaining a low calorie count.
As far as weight loss goes this food has several ingredients which will help. L-carnitine is added, which helps the metabolism switch from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat for energy. There is also a significant amount of soluble fiber in this food from the brown rice, oats, pea fiber, dried beet pulp and carrots, which will all help keep your cat feeling full.
Natural Balance was an independent pet food brand which outsourced its manufacturing. This causes some quality issues in the past but the brand has since been sold to Big Heart and then to JM Smucker. Since the sale of the brand, manufacturing has all been done in-house and there has not been a single recall. If you would like to learn more see our review of Natural Balance.
Best Dry Skin/Coat Care Food for Seniors Cats – Merrick Purrfect Bistro Indoor Senior
Best Dry Skin/Coat Care Food for Seniors Cats
Merrick Purrfect Bistro Indoor Senior
If arthritis is one of the reasons your cat’s coat doesn’t look the way it used to, this is the food for you. With therapeutic levels of glucosamine included in this food, your cat’s joints will certainly thank you. And as any senior food should, this food has a very well controlled phosphorus level at 0.9% on a dry matter basis.
The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of this food is 6:1. This is ideal for a healthy coat, including both flaxseed and salmon oil as omega-3 sources. This food also has chicken fat to include the healthy arachidonic acid. The overall fat content is only 13% on a dry matter basis, likely in an attempt to keep calories low, but the high level of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids should make up for the low overall fat content.
Merrick was an independent pet food brand, but was acquired by Nestle Purina in 2015. However, the brand has remained in operation as a semi-independent company who does all of their own manufacturing. Additionally, the company is very transparent and willing to answer pet owners’ questions.