Maine Coons, one of the largest domestic cat breeds, are often called the "gentle giants" of the cat world. Maine Coons are "medium-to-long-haired cats with silky, heavy, water-resistant coats" that protect them from cold weather, according to the educational staff at drsfostersmith.com. Regular grooming is required to prevent small tangles from becoming large mats of fur that can attract dirt and cause dry skin, itchiness and discomfort that may be stressful for your Maine Coon.
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Comb through the fur and the tangles as gently as possible. Start near the end of the tangled fur not near the skin. Hold the fur near the skin to lessen discomfort from pulling or tugging while removing knots.
Use a grooming rake to remove dead fur from the undercoat after you have removed the tangles.
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Brush your Maine Coon with a slicker brush or pin brush. Frequent brushing increases circulation in your pet's skin and helps distribute natural oils. Feline dandruff and dry skin may increase if a Maine Coon is not grooming itself properly due to old age or weight problems. Brush daily and wipe your cat's fur with a warm damp cloth.
Cut mats and tangles that you cannot remove by brushing and combing. Use grooming scissors carefully to avoid nicking or cutting your cat's delicate skin.
Bathe the cat infrequently, using hypoallergenic cat shampoo. The Maine Coon's coat repels moisture but will lose its protective oils if the cat is bathed too often.
Feed high-quality cat food appropriate for your Maine Coon's size and age. Read cat food labels to make sure the first ingredient is an animal protein and that the food contains little or no grain, artificial colourings, flavours and fillers.
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Add omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements, such as fish oil or olive oil to your cat's food. This will help to guard against dry skin and maintain natural oils in the cat's fur.
Provide fresh, clean drinking water at all times to keep your Maine Coon hydrated and sustain a healthy skin and coat.
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Thoroughly clean and vacuum your home to cut down on fleas, flea eggs, mites and other parasites and allergens.
Implement a flea-treatment program. Treat not only your cat but also your home.
Provide calm living conditions for your cat. Stress or anxiety causes some cats to lick and chew excessively or to stop grooming, leading to hair loss and dry, flaky skin.
Examine your Maine Coon cat for signs and symptoms of skin conditions: dry, flaky, irritated skin or hair loss; constant scratching, licking and chewing of skin, paws or ears; scabs, inflammation and redness; and round, scaly patches on the face and paws.
Bring your cat to the veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment of potentially serious conditions that may be causing the dry skin, such as parasites; seasonal allergies; sensitivity to environmental allergens; immune system problems caused by food intolerance; reactions to seasonal changes, such as being indoors with heaters turned on in winter; and bacterial or yeast infections.
Use veterinarian-prescribed antibiotic or antifungal oral and topical medications to treat skin conditions and administer prescription corticosteroids and antihistamines to control itching.
- Before switching to a prescription diet, research cat food alternatives such as limited ingredient hypoallergenic diets, now available at pet food stores. They may be less expensive and just as good or better than prescription diets for reducing allergies that cause dry skin in Maine Coons and other cats.
- The ASPCA warns that, "You should visit your vet for an exam as soon as you notice any abnormality in your pet's skin, such as excessive hair loss, flaking and scaling, redness and bald patches or if your pet begins to excessively scratch, lick and/or bite areas on his fur."