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11 Best Cat Foods for Healthy Coats & Skin – 2024 Reviews and Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

A persian cat eating dry food We all know that cats spend hours maintaining themselves to be at their most beautiful. However, skin and coat issues are widespread in cats, often caused by a sensitivity to something in their diet.

For you as a cat owner (or servant), this can be hard to pinpoint and may have your cat feeling less than their best selves. Fortunately, a vast range of foods are specially designed to support skin health and promote a sleek and gorgeous coat.

We’ve arranged the top cat food choices for healthy coats and skins that are well-praised across reviews, so you can pander to your cat’s charming vanity and keep them both happy and healthy.

Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s individual case.

A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2024)

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food Subscription Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food Subscription
  • Fresh, human-grade ingredients
  • Different recipe options
  • Easy to serve
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Iams Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion Dry Cat Food Iams Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion Dry Cat Food
  • Affordable
  • High protein from turkey
  • Beet pulp to assist digestion
  • Third place
    Ziwi Peak Venison Canned Cat Food Ziwi Peak Venison Canned Cat Food
  • Grain-free
  • Lean protein from venison
  • Mussels support joint health
  • Kitten Chow Naturals Dry Cat Food Kitten Chow Naturals Dry Cat Food
  • It contains all minerals needed for healthy growth
  • DHA supports skin and coat
  • No artificial additives
  • Hill's Prescription Diet Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food Hill's Prescription Diet Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food
  • Antioxidants to create a skin barrier
  • High protein
  • Added beta-carotene
  • The 11 Best Cat Foods for Healthy Coats and Skin

    1. Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription – Best Overall

    smalls freeze-dried raw and human-grade fresh cat food packaging on feeding bowls

    Calories:  1,220–4,310 cal/kg
    Crude Fat:  5–13.5% min
    Crude Protein:  15–20% min
    Main Ingredients:  Beef, chicken, or turkey

    Whether your cat is a picky eater or gobbles up everything in his path, it’s going to love Smalls Fresh Human-Grade cat food. They are a brand that puts cats first and everything else second, and your cat’s skin and coat can benefit!

    They started with a clear mission: to offer a healthy, delicious alternative to the biggest names in the cat food market. They do not sacrifice nutritional value to save money or yield to marketing fads. They’re focused on giving cats and their owners the absolute best quality of food no matter what.

    We love Smalls because they use fresh, human-grade ingredients. They offer high-quality, fresh wet food, and they have shown that their food can have positive effects on your cat’s health. 78% of cat owners who switch to Smalls report that their cat has shinier, softer fur. They claim that Smalls improved their pet’s energy levels and helped reduce litter box odors.

    Who wouldn’t want that for their cat? Smalls is our pick for overall best cat food for healthy coats and skin. 

    • Health benefits include a softer coat and healthier skin
    • Fresh ingredients safe for even humans to eat
    • Gently cooked fresh recipes
    • Different blends of proteins to choose from
    • Easy to serve, no prep required
    • Convenient subscription

    • Can be costly

    2. Iams Proactive Health Digestion Turkey Dry Cat Food – Budget Buy

    Iams Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion & Skin Turkey Dry Cat Food

    Calories:  352 kcal/cup
    Fat:  14%
    Protein:  33%
    Main Ingredients:  Turkey, chicken, grains

    Iams comes in as the best cat food for a healthy coat and skin regarding value for money. This food packs an excellent punch for how affordable it is. Ingrained with a range of fatty acids, it will assist in a vibrant coat.

    It has a decent amount of protein, considering some of the lower-quality grain fillers it contains. It also boasts a unique fiber blend that includes probiotics and beet pulp to maximize nutrient absorption indigestion.

    The lower-quality ingredients include chicken by-products and a range of grains that may not be suitable for the highly sensitive stomachs of some cats. Regardless, it still offers some excellent benefits for digestion, skin, and coats, especially for the price.

    This product being light in calories means it may take more to satiate your cat’s appetite.

    • Affordable
    • High protein from turkey
    • Beet pulp to assist digestion

    • Light in calories
    • Low-quality grains

    3. Ziwi Peak Venison Canned Cat Food

    Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food

    Calories:  102 kcal/3-oz can
    Fat:  4%
    Protein:  10%
    Main Ingredients:  Venison, chickpeas, mussels, kelp

    This cat food is another good option for your cat that will provide natural support for flawless skin and coat health. Made in New Zealand from sustainable sources, Ziwi Peak Venison cat food contains many unique ingredients without common allergens!

    Venison provides a lean source of protein without excess fat, making this a great choice to support a healthy weight. The addition of green-lipped mussels and kelp offers benefits from chondroitin and glucosamine to support joint health for cats of all ages.

    These unusual ingredients certainly provide serious nutrient boosts, but they will either be adored or despised by your cat. Be sure only to order a small amount to test if your cat accepts this exotic meal so as not to waste money having a case of rejected food.

    • Grain-free
    • Lean protein from venison
    • Mussels support joint health

    • More expensive
    • It may not suit picky eaters

    4. Kitten Chow Naturals Dry Cat Food

    Kitten Chow Naturals Dry Cat Food (1)

    Calories:  406 kcal/cup
    Fat:  15%
    Protein:  40%
    Main Ingredients:  Chicken, corn, soy

    Purina Kitten Chow is a perfectly balanced complete food that will provide all your wee kitten needs to grow and thrive. There’s no question that the first year of life is vital for a kitten, so as a loving owner, you want to ensure you can provide everything they need to grow.

    This cat food contains all the essential vitamins and minerals needed for healthy development, including the addition of DHA, a fatty acid, to support a healthy coat and skin. This cat food also advertises that it is natural, and its ingredient list supports this claim with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives added.

    While this food will provide a balanced diet for your kitten, it also contains a lot of grain fillers that may cause sensitivity in some cats. Despite these fillers, the high-quality chicken still provides a significant amount of protein. Unfortunately, chicken is also a common allergen.

    • It contains all the minerals needed for healthy growth
    • DHA supports skin and coat
    • No artificial additives

    • Contains common allergens
    • Contains fillers

    5. Hill’s Prescription Diet Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Cat Food

    Hill's Prescription Diet z_d Original Skin_Food Sensitivities Dry Cat Food

    Calories:  408 kcal/cup
    Fat:  5%
    Protein:  29%
    Main Ingredients:  Chicken, rice

    Many veterinarians highly recommend this product, and they often prescribe it for cats suffering from poor skin and coat health due to food sensitivities. Designed to be extra digestible, it has a proven record of reducing the effects of food sensitivities in many cats, and it may work for your cat too!

    The addition of coconut oil and beta-carotene is excellent for a shiny and vibrant coat, both proven to improve fur quality and color.

    Although this is undoubtedly an excellent product for a cat’s coat and skin, the downside is it is only available with a vet’s prescription. If your cat is suffering from skin issues and ongoing sensitivities, you are likely in close contact with your vet anyway. Discuss with your vet if this product might be right for your cat.

    • Antioxidants to create a skin barrier
    • High protein
    • Added beta-carotene

    • Requires a vet prescription
    • Expensive


    6. Purina Pro Plan Skin & Stomach Lamb Dry Cat Food

    Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food (1)

    Calories:  539 kcal/cup
    Fat:  18%
    Protein:  40%
    Main Ingredients:  Lamb, rice, oatmeal, egg

    Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach has found its way on our list as the next best cat food for healthy coats and skin due to being a great all-around product. Its highlight is lamb as the main ingredient. Lamb is a protein that is rarely the cause of allergens, so it is an excellent choice for sensitive cats. It is also pea-free, which is a common allergen amongst cats.

    However, this food does contain other common allergens such as chicken, rice, and oatmeal, so it is not suitable for cats with these allergies. Proven and highly reviewed to be a terrific choice to promote digestive harmony that will make your cat’s coat shine from the inside out.

    High protein and added fatty acids will support healthy skin and coat for your cat and assist digestive functioning.

    • Omega-6 fortified
    • High protein
    • Additional probiotics
    • Pea-free

    • Contains common allergens

    7. Royal Canin Hair & Skin Care Dry Cat Food

    Royal Canin Hair & Skin Care Dry Cat Food (1)

    Calories:  430 kcal/cup
    Fat:  20%
    Protein:  31%
    Main Ingredients:  Chicken, corn, beet pulp

    Another vet prescribed cat food that is well-known to produce great results for cats’ skin and coat. This Royal Canin product is specially designed to target skin and hair and to provide a well-balanced complete diet.

    Extra additives include fish oil and biotin that will give coats that extra shine and encourage healthy skin and hair cells. Reviews from owners also often have the comment that their cats loved the taste.

    This product comes with a price though, it is more expensive than many other options, and you will need a vet prescription to get your hands on it. If your cat suffers ongoing sensitivities, then you may be able to get some. Otherwise, for general coat health, you can find a suitable product alongside easily purchased pet foods.

    • Fish oil for coat sheen
    • Antioxidants to protect hair follicles
    • Added biotin

    • Expensive
    • A prescription from a vet required

    8. American Journey Salmon Grain-Free Dry Cat Food


    Calories:  410 kcal/cup
    Fat:  15%
    Protein:  40%
    Main Ingredients:  Salmon, fishmeal, egg, pea protein

    This salmon recipe cat food from American Journey is 100% grain-free, making it a stellar choice for cats with grain sensitivities. This grain-free recipe makes room for some high-quality ingredients, including seafood, fermented probiotics, and egg, which all provide proven benefits to healthy skin and perfect coats.

    The salmon and fishmeal are the stars of the show, offering a range of omegas and fatty acids that support general health and development and conditions skin and fur.

    This recipe does include pea proteins. This may be a downside for some as pea protein can cause irritation and sensitivity. If you decide to use this product, introduce it in small amounts to ensure your cat doesn’t react adversely to peas.

    • Main products include salmon and fishmeal
    • High protein
    • Grain-free

    • Contains pea protein
    • Moderate to high price

    9. Stella & Chewy’s Rabbit Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    Stella & Chewy's Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

    Calories:  >500 kcal/cup
    Fat:  30%
    Protein:  44%
    Main Ingredients:  Rabbit, olive oil, pumpkin seed

    The raw diet trend has been gaining traction lately, and many cat owners report great success for their cat’s health, including a great coat and healthy skin. This product from Stella & Chewy’s offers you and your cat the benefits of a raw diet without the extra work and risk.

    This dehydrated raw food is free from 99% of the most common allergens: no grains, peas, and chicken. Additives are natural and designed to support sound general health. They include probiotics, dandelion, and kelp, to name a few.

    Due to the lack of fillers, this product is dense in protein and fat, contributing to ongoing weight problems. This natural product is flavorsome, and the smell is potent, which may attract some cats, but for the pickier felines, they won’t even touch it. If your cat does not like a significant change, then this product may not be for you.

    • Grain-free
    • Pea-free
    • Natural additives

    • High in fat & calories
    • Expensive
    • Not suitable for picky cats

    10. Blue Buffalo Natural Vet Diet Protein Alligator Dry Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet NP Novel Protein Alligator Grain-Free Dry Cat Food (1)

    Calories:  414 kcal/cup
    Fat:  15%
    Protein:  30%
    Main Ingredients:  Alligator, pea

    This veterinary-recommended diet stands out from the rest with its strange protein source. Some cats react negatively to common protein sources such as chicken and beef, so this product uses the novel protein of alligator, which provides a good level of protein without being a common allergen. This product also does not contain any grains to cause irritation, but it does contain pea protein.

    Enriched with fish oil and flaxseed oil, this product supports healthy skin and a coat with a noticeable sheen. The downside is, once again; this product is expensive and only available with a vet prescription.

    • Flaxseed oil for omega-3
    • Novel protein
    • Grain-free

    • Vet prescription required
    • Expensive


    11. Purina Beyond Salmon & Sweet Potato Gravy Canned Cat Food

    Purina Beyond Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe in Gravy Canned Cat Food (1)

    Calories:  95 kcal/3-oz can
    Fat:  3%
    Protein:  9%
    Main Ingredients:  Salmon, chicken, sweet potato

    Wet foods such as this grain-free cat food from Purina is popular as it is palatable for many feline friends. It is also a grain-free recipe that supports the digestive health of cats with sensitivities and assists in a healthy coat and skin.

    Salmon as the main ingredient, supports a sparkly coat with its wealth of fatty acids and probiotic fiber ensuring it’s easy to digest and absorb. The downside to this product is that although it is not advertised, chicken is the second ingredient. This food is not a good choice for those looking for fish-only protein due to other protein sensitivities.

    While it does not have any grain fillers that are common allergens, it does contain sweet potato. Sweet potato should not provide adverse effects, but it also acts as a filler due to having little nutritional value to a carnivorous cat.

    • Prebiotic fiber
    • Salmon for vital fatty acids
    • Grain-free

    • Chicken as a second ingredient
    • Sweet potato offers little benefit
    • High moisture content

    Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Food for Your Cat’s Skin and Coat

    Understanding the Ingredient List

    When you flip over a bag of kibble to read the ingredients, your eyes glaze over, and all the words turn fuzzy. Most of it doesn’t make any sense to the usual cat owner! Let’s break it down so we can all understand what we are reading.

    Ingredients are listed in order of their composition. So, the first ingredient should make up most of the product, with amounts reducing as the list goes on. As a vicious wee carnivore, your beloved cat’s diet should be primarily protein.

    The first one or two ingredients should be meat-based. Some foods will use multiple different protein sources, while others will use just one. When looking for a diet for a sensitive cat, the fewer protein sources, the better as common proteins are often the culprit of sensitivities and poor skin health.

    Grains including rice, oatmeal, corn, and soy are also common allergens, and foods without these ingredients will often have significant effects on the health of your cat’s coat. This is not essential as some foods with grains in them can still offer great benefits if your cat does not have a sensitivity to any grains.

    Nutritional Value

    Next to the ingredients list, you should find the nutritional composition that breaks down the benefits of the food. As an obligate carnivore, your cat will need a high proportion of protein and fat. Hair is made up almost entirely of keratin, a specific hair protein. Lack of protein can cause hair to be dull and fragile. Skin cells are comprised of proteins and fat, and without these nutrients, skin can become dry, itchy, and irritated.

    Look for a product that is 25-40% protein and over 10% fat.

    Compare the protein to the ingredient list, as pea or potato protein can increase the overall protein. Since they are not meat-based proteins, they won’t provide all the essential amino acids for a healthy carnivore.

    Many cat foods will contain fillers of some kind. While it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, be careful that the carbohydrates are not too high as they will fit up your cat with food that offers little nutritional benefit.

    Ingredients for Healthy Coats and Skin

    The above nutritional makeup will provide a balanced diet that supports skin and hair. But, to take your cat’s health to the next level, many diets will incorporate some superfoods specially designed to help optimize skin and coat health.

    Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 will help bring shine and luster to your cat. Omega-3 can be found in fish, seafood, canola, and flax. Omega-6 is found most in chicken fat, corn oil, and soy.

    While these omega-6 fats are healthy, too many can increase skin inflammation. This can be avoided by balancing them out with omega-3, which will reduce inflammation. Extra boosting vitamins and minerals may be found in supplements in the diet. Look for ingredients such as zinc, biotin, riboflavin, prebiotics, probiotics, and antioxidants.

    These fantastic contributions will all assist in cell health, hydration, and resilience to create supple and balanced skin and a soft and smooth coat.

    While providing our feline companions with high-quality food is paramount, selecting the right food and water bowl is equally important. The modern yet practical design of our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl combines cat-catered features, like whisker-friendly shallow dishes and slight elevation, with a contemporary style aimed at protecting your floors from messy eating and drinking. The NomNom is entirely dishwasher safe and was thoughtfully created with your cat’s health and well-being in mind. 

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    Final Thoughts

    There certainly is a lot to think about when picking the best food for your cat. We identified quite a few great choices in the reviewed foods that will ensure your cat has healthy skin and a beautiful coat. Our top choice, Smalls Fresh Human-Grade cat food, came into the top spot with its use of human-grade fresh ingredients, which provide a sleek shine to coats.

    Iams Proactive Health Sensitive Digestion found its spot as the budget buy. It’s affordable while remaining superb for sensitive skin and its reviews speak highly of it.

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    Featured Image Credit: Patrick Foto, Shutterstock

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