ASK THE VET
QOur cat is 10 now and she is a bit tubby if I am honest. She has a very dry coat and terrible dandruff, especially down her back. We were advised to feed her oily fish every day, but it hasn’t helped and I think she is getting fatter.
Can you advise us what we can do to fix this, please? Patrick, Dundonald
APatrick, what you are describing could have very many causes, I’m afraid, so my advice is going to be a bit general. I would suggest that a trip to your vet is essential, not least to address the ever-increasing waistline.
Dandruff in cats is usually a reflection of some underlying illness or skin problem. Very occasionally it can actually be a parasite walking around on the fur. This is called Walking dandruff, and affected cats are usually horribly itchy, and owners may well develop a rash also.
You don’t mention severe itch, so I am guessing that your cat does not have that particular problem.
If dandruff is due to deficiencies in a poor diet, adding fish oils can indeed help. But please be aware that cats can get unwell if they eat too much oily fish, hence if we suspect diet we generally advise they are put on Vetenox, which is a high-quality veterinary coldpressed fish oil — much safer than lots of fish and so concentrated that it adds insignificant calories.
If your vet finds that she has a yeast skin infection, a medicated shampoo (or a medicated foam) can be prescribed.
In severe cases, an oral course of anti-fungal drugs is needed to help, but generally topical applications are adequate — many cats tolerate a warm bath much better than you may think, but the foam is an easy alternative to those less cooperative patients.
In the absence of dietary issues, or skin infections, one other possible avenue to explore is pain interrupting normal grooming — dental pain or arthritis will deter a cat form grooming.
Severe obesity also makes grooming very difficult and cats may simply give up and let their coat go — again, the vet will be able help in that case.
So, please do go see your vet — I am sure it is worth the trip and that something can be done. Good luck. Craig is a Clinical Director in Cedarmount Veterinary Clinic, Bangor www.cedarmountvets.co.uk . He can only respond to questions through this column, and these answers cannot substitute for treatment decisions based on a full history and clinical examination by your vet