What can I do about my cat’s dry skin?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – When my cat “Pepper” gets excited she tends to lick herself uncontrollably near her tail and hind legs. I know it’s not fleas or ticks. Could dry skin be a cause and if so what can I do to alleviate dry skin. Are there vitamins or a cat food or remedy that could help with dry skin?


Michelle Traughber


Hi Michelle– thanks for your email. You wrote that your cat “Pepper” licks near her tail and hind legs when she is excited. You also indicated its not from fleas or ticks.

The most common reason I see cats do this is behavioral. I’m not sure if it is just “something to do” or a nervous habit. The common scenario is that a cat runs in the room, you enter with guests; the cat stops and starts immediately licking. Maybe a person would bite their nails or stutter. Many times cats do this type of behavior when confronted with a new or stressful situation. Often, the situation is not that stressful, just new to them and they do it.

In my opinion, this behavior is not from dry skin. If she is in otherwise good health and it does not seem compulsive – then I probably wouldn’t worry about it. Also, discuss it with your veterinarian and get his thoughts.

As far as the dry skin – that is tough. Many cats (especially overweight cats) can’t groom the area in front of their tails well and will have obvious dry skin. Make sure you are feeding a good quality premium cat food. If she is overweight – discuss a diet plan with your vet (it is important to always do a diet very carefully and slowly in cats). Groom and brush her often. This will help minimize the dry skin and stimulation healthy circulation to the skin.

There is no secret ingredient for dry skin. Many times it is worse in the winter (just like with us).

An article that might be helpful to you is Seborrhea in Cats (Dry Skin).

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra