5 Treatments For Cat Dry Skin Getting Rid of Your Cat's Itchy Skin

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Dry skin is no fun for anyone, including cats, but there can be many different reasons for it. Luckily, there are just as many ways to get rid of it. Find out more here on what is causing your cat's dry skin, and more importantly, how to help.

Can Cats Get Dry Skin?

Dry skin on cats is not only possible but actually very common across all breeds. The easiest way to tell if your cat has dry skin is if you notice patched, flakey spots around their coat. Another telltale sign that your cat has dry skin is if you see them constantly scratching and itching, especially if they’re focused on a certain spot on their body. The nose, back, ears, and base of the tail are some of the more common areas where a cat can develop dry skin.

What Does Cat Dry Skin Look Like?

Your cat's dry skin can appear as bald spots, scabs, scaly patches, or flakes that look similar to dandruff. These symptoms can appear anywhere on your cat, however, they're most commonly found around the nose, tail, lower back, and ears. Once you’re certain that your cat has dry skin, the next step is figuring out what’s causing it, and then appropriately treating it.

Dry skin is a common concern for cats,  often bringing cats and their pet parents to the veterinarian. Here we’ll discuss the possible reasons for cat dry skin, and how to handle a serious issue or tell if it is just regular old wintertime chapping.

What Are the Top Home Remedies for Dry Skin on Cats?

Wondering what the best home remedies for dry skin on cats are? Use the following five remedies to treat your cat’s dry skin and heal their discomfort quickly:

  • Use a cat food that has a higher protein content.

  • If you suspect your cat has allergies, consult with your vet to determine an allergy elimination plan.

  • Use an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement to provide natural moisture for your cat’s skin.

  • If your home is naturally arid, use humidifiers to help protect your cat’s skin from becoming dry.

  • Use a natural moisturizing agent (such as coconut oil) on your cat’s dry areas. Certain shampoos and essential oils can also be used as remedies for dry skin on cats.


Dandruff and flakiness are the primary indications that your cat has dry skin. The skin itself may appear dull when you part the fur to have a look. Also, your cat may be itching, scratching, or licking more than usual.


More often than not, dry skin is a red flag alerting you to some other condition. By addressing the real issue, dry skin should go back to normal. The most common causes of dry cat skin are:

  • Allergies: Your cat may be allergic to anything from an ingredient in its food to the pollen in the air. They could also be reacting to something in their environment, like a new bed or grooming product.

  • Poor Diet: Your cat’s food may be short on vitamins and minerals. Their dry skin could be an indication of a deficiency.

  • Changes in the Weather: When the weather gets colder and heaters come on, everyone’s skin gets dry. Luckily, this type of dry skin is easy to treat.

Other, less common causes of dry cat skin can include:

  • Fleas: Sometimes, a flea infestation can cause dry skin. Getting rid of the fleas should resolve the skin problem unless an infection has also developed. In this case, antibiotics, or a special ointment, may be necessary.

  • Lice and Other Parasites: Eliminating the parasite should resolve skin issues.

  • Overgrooming: Sometimes, cats get carried away with their self-grooming. Over-grooming can indicate a serious medical problem or a behavioral issue like OCD. Both the medical problem and the excessive licking can lead to dry skin.

  • Fungal Infections: Fungal infections like yeast infectionsringworm, and sporotrichosis, for example, can lead to dry skin. Sporotrichosis can spread to humans and should be managed right away.

  • Serious Health Conditions: Older cats are especially susceptible to diseases like hyperthyroidism, heart conditions, and diabetes. Dry skin can be an early indication of one of these issues.

5 TREATMENTS for Cat Dry Skin

1. A Better Diet

Keeping your cat's skin and coat healthy ensures they do not suffer from dry skin and other skin ailments. Some important nutrients are crucial to maintaining healthy skin and coat for cats. 

  • Vitamin A is essential for your cat's immune system. Unlike humans, cats can't make their own Vitamin A, so they need to get it from their food. Foods like raw liver are rich sources of Vitamin A.

  • Vitamin E is important for skin, coat, and immune health. It can be found in oils from seeds and vegetables. Vitamin E can also be applied directly to the skin to help with issues like eczema.

  • Cats need various B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and B12. B12, in particular, supports their immune system and skin health. Foods like chicken, salmon, tuna, and eggs are good sources of these vitamins.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for a strong immune system. Cats can't produce Omega-3 on their own, so they need to get it from foods like flaxseed and fish oil. Omega-6 fatty acids are important for the health of their skin cells and can be found in wild-caught fish.

  • Zinc is essential for your cat's immune system and for making DNA. Cats need to get zinc from their food found in red meat and poultry.

  • Biotin helps your cat's body process their food. It can also help with dry skin and itchiness. Foods like lean meats and eggs are rich in biotin.

  • Copper promotes the health of your cat's skin and coat. A lack of copper can lead to a dull coat and hair loss. Foods like liver and fish are good sources of copper.

You should include these nutrients in your cat’s diet to improve skin and coat health. If you buy commercial cat food, read the label carefully to see if the food contains these ingredients. There are some cat foods specifically made to aid cat skin and coat health. Some are readily available, while others need a vet’s prescription. These are some of the well-known options. 

  • Blue Buffalo True Solutions Perfect Coat Natural Skin & Coat is available in dry and wet forms and promotes healthy skin and a shiny coat. It contains high-quality ingredients such as real chicken, fish oil, and flaxseed, rich sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids help nourish the skin and coat, reducing dryness and promoting a healthy, lustrous appearance. BLUE's exclusive LifeSource Bits are a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals carefully selected by veterinarians and animal nutritionists. These LifeSource Bits support immune system health, life stage requirements, and a healthy oxidative balance. Moreover, LifeSource Bits are cold-formed to help retain the potency of their ingredients, minimizing the amount of heat exposure during the manufacturing process.

  • Hill's Prescription Diet for Skin/Food Sensitivities offers two types of specialized formula for cats with skin and food sensitivities. The d/d range stands for "dermatology diet," and it includes formulas that are specifically designed to address skin-related issues in cats. These formulas feature limited and novel protein sources, such as duck, salmon, or venison, and a single carbohydrate source, typically potato or rice. By limiting the number of ingredients, d/d diets aim to reduce the risk of triggering allergic reactions in cats with food sensitivities. Additionally, these formulas contain a blend of essential nutrients, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, to support skin health and strengthen the skin barrier. On the other hand, the z/d range is formulated using hydrolyzed protein diets, in which the protein sources are broken down into smaller components (peptides) that are less likely to trigger allergic reactions in cats with food sensitivities. This makes z/d diets ideal for cats with severe or multiple food allergies or intolerances. The z/d range typically features hydrolyzed chicken as the protein source and a limited number of additional ingredients to minimize the risk of adverse reactions. Like the d/d range, z/d diets contain a comprehensive blend of essential nutrients to support overall skin health and well-being.

  • Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin range offers dry and wet cat foods to address sensitive stomachs and skin issues in cats. The cat foods contain high-quality proteins from sources like chicken or salmon and easily digestible carbohydrates. Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin range of cat foods is gentle on the stomach and helps promote healthy digestion, making it an excellent choice for cats with sensitive stomachs. They also contain Omega-6 fatty acids and essential nutrients to support skin and coat health and overall well-being.

  • Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food addresses the needs of cats with sensitive skin and stomachs with easily digestible ingredients like rice and oatmeal that promote healthy digestion and minimize gastrointestinal upset. Real lamb is added as a high-quality source of protein, while live probiotics help maintain a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting optimal digestion and bolstering the immune system. The cat food is enriched with Omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin A that help maintain a healthy skin barrier and promote a shiny, lustrous coat, reducing dryness and irritation.     

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids & Other Supplements

If your cat already has a well-balanced diet, consider an Omega-3 supplement. The benefits of fish oil for pets even go beyond skin moisture. Some tests indicate it may help prevent cancer. You may also consider a more general supplement, like Dermatrix, that includes keratin for skin health. These are some of the most used Omega-3 supplements for cats. 

  • Made with salmon oil, NaturVet Salmon Oil Plus Omegas provides a natural and potent source of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to improve skin health, coat condition, and immune system function. A unique filtration process removes the fishy smell commonly associated with fish oil supplements. However, the delicious taste of salmon is retained, making it more palatable for your pet. Regular use can help nourish your pet's skin from within, reducing dryness, itchiness, and flakiness. The supplement also supports the skin's natural barrier function, helping to prevent moisture loss and maintain hydration.

  • PetHonesty Skin & Coat Health Chews for Cats offer a solution to common feline skin irritations. These tasty supplements nourish your cat's skin from within, promoting health and comfort. By providing essential nutrients like omegas, vitamins C and E, and biotin, these chews work together to support both the coat and skin. Regular consumption of these chews can help maintain your cat's skin and coat health, reducing discomfort from allergies and other irritations. 

  • Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Oil uses wild anchovies and sardines in its Omega-3 oil supplement and provides support for healthy skin and coat, joint function, and heart health. The supplement helps in the development and maintenance of the brain and eyes. 

3. Topical Treatments, Shampoos, and Grooming

Shampoos can be used if your cat has gotten very dirty, greasy, or sticky. These are some commonly used shampoos that address dry skin conditions in cats. 

  • Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic & Antifungal Medicated Shampoo can soothe various skin conditions like redness, scaliness, greasiness, or unpleasant odors resulting from allergies, infections, or other environmental stressors. The shampoo can also be used to target specific areas or provide quick relief without the need for a full bath. The shampoo features a pH-balanced formula free from harsh ingredients like parabens and soap. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic & Antifungal Medicated Shampoo can be used on cats aged 12 weeks and older twice weekly as directed until the skin condition clears up. Once the skin has improved, it can be used once a week to help maintain skin health and prevent future flare-ups.

  • Earthbath 2-in-1 Conditioning Cat Shampoo combines the benefits of a shampoo and conditioner in one product. This soap-free shampoo and conditioner blend is made with all-natural ingredients to detangle coats while adding luster and shine, leaving your cat's fur soft and manageable. Earthbath's formula is designed to clean your pet's coat without washing off topical flea treatments. The shampoo is suitable for cats over 6 weeks of age and is 100% biodegradable, paraben-free, and phosphate-free. 

  • Purina Pro Plan LIVECLEAR Rinse-Free Allergen Reducing Cat Shampoo reduces allergens present in cat hair and dander to minimize allergic reactions. The cleansing foam is easy and convenient to apply without the need for rinsing. The shampoo has a hypoallergenic formula that cleanses gently and effectively. Made with 99.8% natural ingredients, LiveClear dry cat shampoo is also pH-balanced to prevent dryness or irritation.

Topical treatments will rid your cat of existing lice or flea infestations, which may resolve their related skin issues. Brushing your cat regularly will help spread its own natural skin oils.

4. Antibiotics & Antifungals

Prescription medication will be necessary for just about any infection-related skin condition. Your vet will know which medication is needed.

5. Household  Changes

  • Dry Heat: If the air is dry in your home because the heat is on, bring a humidifier into the room your cat spends the most time in.

  • Allergies: Have you changed laundry detergents? Brought in a new scratching post? Started using a new household cleaner? Your cat’s dry skin could be a reaction or an allergy to one of these substances.

Home Remedies for Cats With Itchy Skin

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a great natural remedy for cats with dry and itchy skin. You can apply coconut oil directly to your cat’s fur at any time, but you should start small if you're unfamiliar with the application process. Rub a tiny amount of coconut oil into your cat's fur (enough to cover roughly 3-4 inches of his body) and gently massage the area until it's fully absorbed. If this goes well, gradually increase how much coconut oil you use and where on his body you apply it until he no longer shows signs of discomfort when being touched in those areas.

Make sure that the product is 100% pure organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil without any additives or preservatives to avoid irritation or allergic reactions in your kitty!


Oatmeal is a natural anti-inflammatory, and it’s also effective at treating fleas. You can bathe your cat in oatmeal (either with or without water) or add food with oats to your cat’s diet. If you decide to try the latter method, start out small—a teaspoon at first—and gradually increase the amount as needed. If you have some left over after bathing them, there are plenty of other ways that you can use it around the house:

Oats can be used as an exfoliant for dry skin, especially on elbows and feet; put a handful into a sock, tie off one end and gently massage the area until smooth; rinse well afterward! They're also great as bath scrubs. Just grind them up slightly before adding 1/2 cup of coarse sea salt (or any kind of coarse salt) and mixing thoroughly until clumps form. It should feel like soft sandpaper when finished! Then add two cups of water, more if desired, and mix again until smooth; apply liberally all over the body while in the shower, then rinse thoroughly afterward (don't forget about those hard-to-reach spots like ears, too!).

Last but certainly not least, if crushed up finely enough, these little guys make excellent insect repellents! Apply generously under arms/behind knees before heading outdoors--you won't regret it once those pesky skeeters start buzzing around!

Green tea

Green tea is a great option for cats with itchy skin. It's full of antioxidants that can reduce inflammation, and it also contains anti-bacterial properties that can help prevent infection. This herb is known to be a diuretic and works to reduce fluid retention in your cat's body, which will help them feel less bloated after eating. It's also considered a mild sedative that may calm your pet down if they're overly active or nervous about their condition (this is especially useful if you have multiple pets in the house!).

One note: green tea does contain caffeine, so keep an eye out for signs of overstimulation or hyperactivity after giving your cat this remedy!

Fish oil

Fish oil is a great natural remedy for cats with itchy skin. It contains omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce itchiness. You can give your cat fish oil in liquid form or in capsule form.

In addition to helping with the itchiness, fish oil also has other health benefits for cats. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation, as well as help promote healthy joints and skin. Fish oil can also be used to treat depression and anxiety in cats, so if your cat is irritable because of its itchy skin condition, then you may want to try adding some fish oil into their diet too!

7 Signs of Cat Skin Problems

Cats, just like everyone else, can end up developing a skin condition. We may not think about it since their skin is pretty well covered with a thick layer of fur (in most cases), but when a cat skin problem occurs, they are just as uncomfortable as anyone else. If you want to be able to help your cat when the problem occurs, it pays to know the signs and what the likely cause could be.

1. Scratching, licking, and chewing at the skin

Fact: cats lick themselves clean, and they also scratch themselves. However, if you notice that your cat is really working a specific spot (especially around their neck or head), it could be their way of trying to deal with skin irritation. Often, this type of behavior is symptomatic of a parasite, such as fleasticks, or ear mites, causing your cat to go mentally trying to get at the source of the itch. If your cat is really going to a specific area, take them to the vet.

2. Scabs

While they may not be visible, scabs can often be felt. If you are petting your cat and you feel a spot of crusty, scabbed-over skin, this could either be a legion or the result of excessive scratching, both of which are a sign that something is bothering your cat. It could be miliary dermatitis or another issue, and it's time to consult your vet.

3. Redness or inflammation

If your cat’s skin is becoming red and raised, chances are this is an allergic reaction to something they are interacting with within your home, commonly known as contact dermatitis. Frequently a result of an allergy to plastic or rubber, the best defense is to keep your cat away from potential triggers. Try feeding them from glass, stainless steel, or ceramic bowls, as rubber/plastic dishes are a leading cause. Talk to your vet as well, since it could also be a result of something more serious.

4. Round, scaly patches

Ringworm is an infectious fungus that causes scaly patches on the skin. If you notice any round, scaly skin on your cat's body, most commonly on the head or paws, take them to the vet to have them treated.

5. Dry, flaky skin

A symptom that can be attributed to a ton of different causes — from allergies and weather to parasites — dry, flaky skin can be alleviated with a dietary supplement such as fish oil to help their skin and fur regain their natural sheen and moisture. However, you should always consult with your vet before adding any supplement to your cat's diet.

6. Hair loss

If your cat is licking their coat to the point of removing hair, it is a good sign that they are in pain resulting from one of the aforementioned causes. If, however, the hair is falling out on its own, chances are that the cat is suffering from a different kind of condition, such as demodectic mange, an excess of cortisone, hyperthyroidism, feline endocrine alopecia, or some other type of disease. If your cat’s hair is falling out, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

7. Skin discoloration

Depending on how far the discoloration spreads (small spots or a large portion of their skin), this could either be a minor reaction to something like a mosquito bite or something more serious like Cushing’s disease. Regardless of the size, however, if there is a change in your cat’s skin color, you should take them to the vet immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put coconut oil on my cat's dry skin?

Yes, you can use coconut oil to help soothe your cat's dry skin. Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer that can help to hydrate and nourish the skin. However, it's important to use caution when applying coconut oil to your cat. Some cats may have an allergic reaction to coconut oil, so it's best to do a patch test on a small, inconspicuous area of your cat's skin before applying it more widely. Also, be sure to use pure, unrefined coconut oil, as some products may contain added ingredients that could be harmful to your cat. When applying coconut oil, start with a small amount and massage it gently into your cat's skin. You can also add a few drops to your cat's food or treats to help hydrate their skin from the inside out. It's always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before using any new product on your cat, especially if they have a skin condition or if you have concerns about how your cat may react. Dr. Karen Becker, a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator for more than 30 years, says that there are several health benefits of coconut oil for pets. Coconut oil contains lauric and caprylic acids have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, which makes it quite effective for yeast infections. Coconut oil can also improve your cat’s lipid barrier to improve their resistance to bacterial infections. She advises pet parents to use human-grade coconut oil.

Why is my cat's skin dry and scabby?

Michael Hoover, DVM from the University of Missouri-Columbia, says that there could be a variety of reasons why your cat's skin is dry and scabby, so look for additional symptoms like weight loss, stool quality, appetite changes, cat’s age, etc. Dry skin can be seasonal or due to diseases like Staph pyoderma or Hyperthyroidism. Cats can be allergic to food, environmental allergens (such as pollen or mold), or chemicals found in household products. Allergic reactions can cause dry, itchy skin and lead to scabbing. Fleas, mites, and lice can all cause skin irritation and scab in cats. Bacterial or fungal skin infections can cause scabbing and other skin symptoms in cats. Certain skin conditions, such as feline acne or seborrhea, can cause dry, flaky skin and scabs in cats. A lack of certain nutrients in your cat's diet, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can contribute to dry, itchy skin and scabbing. If you're concerned about your cat's dry, scabby skin, it's best to consult with your veterinarian. They can help to diagnose the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment, which may include medications, dietary changes, or changes to your cat's environment.

What can I put on my cat's dry skin?

There are a few things you can use to help soothe your cat's dry skin. You can use a pet-specific moisturizing cream or ointment to hydrate your cat's skin. Make sure to choose a product that is safe for use on cats and does not contain any ingredients that may be harmful. Adding a source of omega-3 fatty acids to your cat's diet, such as fish oil, can help to improve skin health and reduce dryness. Using a humidifier in your home can help to add moisture to the air, which can be beneficial for cats with dry skin. In some cases, bathing your cat with a gentle, moisturizing shampoo can help to hydrate its skin. However, be careful not to bathe your cat too frequently, as this can strip its skin of its natural oils and make dryness worse. As mentioned earlier, coconut oil can be used as a natural moisturizer for cats. Make sure to use pure, unrefined coconut oil and do a patch test before using it more widely. Keep in mind that the underlying cause of your cat's dry skin should be addressed to prevent future dryness. If you're unsure about the best course of treatment for your cat, consult with your veterinarian for advice.

How can I soothe my cat's itchy skin with home remedies?

 Bob Tracz, who studied veterinary medicine, says that you should first understand the underlying reason.  Lack of protein and Omega 3 fatty acids or the presence of allergens can be the reason. Topical treatments like shampoos should only be used if a veterinary doctor has prescribed them. Fleas and ticks should also be ruled out. Brush your cat regularly to spread their natural skin oils. There are a few home remedies that may help to soothe your cat's itchy skin. You can mix oatmeal with warm water to make a paste and then apply the paste to your cat's skin. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes, then rinse it off. The oatmeal can help to soothe and moisturize your cat's skin, reducing itching. Aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory and moisturizing agent that can help to soothe your cat's skin. You can apply pure aloe vera gel directly to your cat's skin or add a few drops of aloe vera juice to their drinking water. Dilute apple cider vinegar with water (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water) and apply the mixture to your cat's skin using a cotton ball. The vinegar can help to soothe itching and reduce inflammation. Mix baking soda with water to form a paste, and then apply the paste to your cat's skin. Leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse it off. Baking soda can help neutralize skin irritants and soothe itching. Certain herbs, such as chamomile or calendula, can have a calming effect on the skin and help to reduce itching. You can make tea with the herbs, let it cool, and then use a cloth to apply the tea to your cat's skin. Remember, these home remedies may not work for all cats, and some may have an adverse reaction to certain ingredients. If your cat's itching persists or worsens, it's best to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

What anti-itch cream is safe for cats?

According to Dr. Jennifer Macindoe, anti-itch medications can be used to treat many conditions, but allergies are the most common reason. Most anti-itch medications can be used for cats of all ages, but some not be suitable for kittens. You should consult a vet to prescribe one that’s suitable for your cat’s condition. There are several creams that are safe for use on cats and can help to relieve itching. Hydrocortisone is a mild steroid that can help to reduce inflammation and itching. Look for a cream that is specifically labeled for use on cats, as some hydrocortisone creams contain other ingredients that may be harmful to cats. Benadryl is an antihistamine that can help to relieve itching caused by allergies. Again, make sure to choose a product that is safe for use on cats and follow the recommended dosages. There are also creams available that are specifically formulated for use on pets and are safe for use on cats. These creams may contain a combination of anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, and soothing ingredients. While these creams can help to relieve itching, they do not address the underlying cause of the itching. If your cat's itching persists or worsens, it's best to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, never use a cream on your cat without first consulting with your veterinarian, as some ingredients may be toxic to cats.

More on Skin Health

Dog and Cat Dermatitis: Itchy Skin in Pets

Cat Dandruff Remedies and Solutions

Skin and Coat Care: A Pet Parent's Guide

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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