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Dear Christopher Cat

The skin on my cat’s back is flaky. Can you suggest a dietary supplement?

Christopher Responds

The most common cause of flaky skin, especially when it’s limited to the cat’s back, is not a nutritional deficiency but fleas or decreased grooming.

Even a few fleas can irritate the skin enough to cause the flakes, called scales. To find out whether fleas are the culprit, comb your cat’s back with a flea comb, a fine-toothed comb designed to remove fleas and their excrement, called flea dirt.

If you see dark specks on the comb, place them on a white surface and wet them. If the specks are flea dirt, they will leave a red-brown trail when you rub them across the moistened white surface.

That trail is digested blood, a tell-tale sign of fleas. If you see it, treat the fleas and the flakiness will subside.
The other reason some of us cats have flaky skin on our backs is that we just aren’t grooming the area. Some overweight cats can no longer reach their backs, and other cats aren’t grooming because they don’t feel energetic enough to do it.

If your cat is overweight, it’s time to start a program of gradual weight loss, during which you’ll need to do the grooming.

If your cat doesn’t have fleas and isn’t overweight, it’s time for a trip to the veterinarian to find out why your kitty isn’t feeling good enough to groom.

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