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8 Best Cat Foods for Healthy Skin & Coats in 2023: Reviews & Top Picks

cat eating Redbarn Naturals Lamb Pate Skin & Coat Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

We all want our felines to be happy and healthy. However, sometimes they have problems with their skin and coat. This may be due to skin sensitivities or even food allergies. Often, it is difficult to treat, and flare-ups are common.

Luckily, many of these problems can be handled through the correct diet. We’ll help you choose the perfect cat food to support your cat’s skin and coat in this article.

Below, you’ll find reviews as well as a complete buyer’s guide.

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A Quick Glance at Our Favorites in 2023

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish Recipe (Cat Food Subscription) Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish Recipe (Cat Food Subscription)
  • Feature iconSeveral fish as the primary ingredients
  • Feature iconHigh in protein and omega fatty acids
  • Feature iconHuman-grade, high-quality ingredients
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food
  • Feature iconLamb as the first ingredient
  • Feature iconNo corn, wheat, or soy
  • Feature iconDHA and omega fatty acids included
  • Third place
    AvoDerm Natural Wild Cat Food AvoDerm Natural Wild Cat Food
  • Feature iconMostly just salmon and salmon broth
  • Feature iconIncludes natural DHA and omega fatty acids
  • Feature iconFree from grains
  • American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconVery high in protein
  • Feature iconAntioxidants included
  • Feature iconOmega fatty acids and DHA
  • Go! Solutions skin + Coat Care Dry Cat Food Go! Solutions skin + Coat Care Dry Cat Food
  • Feature iconIncludes plenty of animal ingredients
  • Feature iconCalorie-dense
  • Feature iconIncludes DHA and omega fatty acids
  • The 8 Best Cat Foods for a Healthy Skin & Coat

    1. Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish Recipe (Cat Food Subscription) — Best Overall

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

    To improve your cat’s skin and coat, we recommend the Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish recipe. This fresh cat food contains no fillers or artificial flavors. It’s easier for most cats to digest, which may improve their skin and coat health. It’s made from only high-quality, human-grade ingredients, making it one of the best fat foods on the market.

    We love that it contains several types of fish, which are high in protein and omega fatty acids. These fatty acids may help improve your cat’s skin and coat health and are naturally found in all types of fish. It also contains a range of veggies and fruits, which may help support your cat’s overall health.
    The formula is completely grain-free, which is a common allergen for many felines. If your cat consumes something they’re sensitive to, it could damage their coat and skin. Therefore, food not containing grains may help improve your cat’s skin and coat.

    We highly recommend this formula because of its natural ingredients and high protein content. While it is more expensive than other formulas, the extra price is often worth it thanks to the high-quality ingredients.

    • Several fish as the primary ingredients
    • High in protein and omega fatty acids
    • Human-grade, high-quality ingredients
    • Grain-free
    • Contains a range of fruits and veggies
    • Expensive
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    2. Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food– Best Value

    Redbarn Naturals Lamb Pate Skin & Coat Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Compared to some of the other options we reviewed, Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food is inexpensive. It isn’t the most inexpensive. However, it isn’t nearly as expensive as some other options. Lamb, lamb broth, and lamb liver are included as the first three ingredients. Most of the other ingredients are either plants like Parsley or added nutrients. This food is relatively high in protein, though it isn’t necessarily the highest.

    This food includes no grains, gluten, corn, wheat, or soy. This recipe is entirely grain-free. Salmon oil is included for added DHA and omega fatty acids. These ingredients can encourage your cat’s skin and coat health. Because it is canned food, there is added moisture, which is often essential for skin health.

    This food does not include any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

    • Includes mostly lamb
    • Suitable for cats with allergies
    • No corn, wheat, or soy
    • DHA and omega fatty acids included
    • Might not work for picky cats
    • Not inexpensive
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    3. AvoDerm Natural Wild Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    AvoDerm Natural Wild by Nature Grain-Free

    While it is a bit more expensive than some other options, AvoDerm Natural Wild Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is also of higher quality. It just includes salmon, as well as a variety of added vitamins and minerals. The ingredient list includes salmon and salmon broth – that’s it. This food is extremely high in protein for this reason, which is perfect for sensitive cats.

    Salmon is also great for cats with sensitive skin and coat, including natural omega fatty acids and DHA. These ingredients can nurture your feline’s skin and coat. Cats thrive on a high-protein diet as well, so that alone may improve your feline’s health.

    It includes various added nutrients, like avocadoes, taurine, antioxidants, and essential amino acids. It is complete cat food, so you can feed it full-time to your cat. This food is 100% free of grains and includes salmon broth to increase hydration, which may be necessary for cats with skin problems.

    • Mostly just salmon and salmon broth
    • Includes natural DHA and omega fatty acids
    • Free from grains
    • Suitable for sensitive stomachs
    • Expensive
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    4. American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    2American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    The American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is completely grain-free. It is also made without corn, wheat, or soy. Deboned salmon is the first ingredient, with salmon meal as the second. There are other animal products included throughout, including menhaden fish meal and egg product. Pea protein and peas are included as well, though they are further down on the ingredient list.

    While this food is extremely high in protein, much of this is likely from the pea protein. This means that this food may not include the broad swath of amino acids that animal meats provide. It is crafted in the USA, but the ingredients are sourced from around the world.

    Antioxidants are included as well, which can support a healthy immune system. This may improve your cat’s skin and coat. However, the real MVP of this cat food is all the omega fatty acids and DHA that come from the fish included throughout the formula.

    • Plenty of fish included
    • Very high in protein
    • Antioxidants included
    • Omega fatty acids and DHA
    • Expensive
    • Pea protein included
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    5. Go! Solutions skin + Coat Care Dry Cat Food

    Go! Solutions Skin + Coat Care Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

    Go! Solutions skin + Coat Care Dry Cat Food is a more expensive cat food. It is explicitly designed for healthy skin and coat, however. This food does not include any corn, wheat, or soy. It is also pea-free. The first ingredient is chicken meal, with deboned chicken as the first ingredient. Both of these are high-quality options. However, they are not suitable for felines that are allergic to chicken for apparent reasons. The ingredient list’s remainder is a mixture of grains with some other high-quality ingredients thrown in, like salmon meal and cranberries.

    This cat food for dry skin is extremely high in protein – higher than most other options on this list. Because there are no peas or other high-protein veggies included, much of this likely comes from the meat products. This food is quite calorie-dense, so you may have to feed less than your cat’s current food.

    The salmon meal includes plenty of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy coat. Antioxidants and prebiotics are included as well.

    • Includes plenty of animal ingredients
    • Calorie-dense
    • Includes DHA and omega fatty acids
    • May not be preferred by picky cats
    • A bit expensive
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    6. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food

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

    As a cheaper food, consider Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food. This food is significantly less expensive than other options, but it still includes various ingredients that are perfect for cats with skin and coat problems. The first ingredient is lamb, which is a novel protein. This means that most felines are not sensitive to it, allowing it to be fed to cats with allergies. However, further down on the list, chicken meal is included. Therefore, you cannot feed it to your feline if they are allergic to chicken.

    The other ingredients are a bit lower quality, such as rice and oatmeal. This food is not grain-free, but it is pea-free. Most of the protein comes from animal sources, so this food contains a variety of amino acids. This food is fortified with a variety of different probiotics and prebiotics. These ingredients support your cat’s digestion. It also contains various omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin A, which may improve your cat’s skin and coat.

    This is easily the best cat food for a healthy skin and coat for the money based on all these benefits.

    • Lamb as the first ingredient
    • Pea-free
    • Probiotics and prebiotics included
    • Omega-6 fatty acids included
    • Some low-quality ingredients included


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    7. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food

    Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach Dry Cat Food

    While Hill’s Science Diet is often considered high-quality, we found the Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food a bit underwhelming. It includes chicken as the first ingredient, but the rest are grains, such as brewer’s rice, corn gluten meal, and whole-grain corn. While some of these are whole grain and high-quality, others are not. This food is also quite expensive, so we expected better ingredients for the price.

    This food is decently high in protein, though. The fat is relatively high as well, which is essential for skin and coat health. It also includes ingredients like eggs, which are highly nutritional. Omega-6 fatty acids are included – another ingredient that is important for coat and skin health. Antioxidants are also included for immune health. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives are included. This formula is made in the USA, though all the ingredients may not be sourced in the USA.

    • High in protein
    • Chicken as the first ingredient
    • Omega fatty acids included
    • Includes chicken (may not be suitable for cats with allergies)
    • Includes lots of grains
    • Expensive
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    8. Hill’s Prescription Diet Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food

    Hill's Prescription Diet Original Skin Food Sensitivities Dry Cat Food

    The Hill’s Prescription Diet Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food is very similar to the previous option we reviewed. However, it is designed as a diet food as well, and it requires a veterinary prescription. There is a good reason for this, as you should always be working with your vet when your cat is having these problems. However, it is an extra step for cat owners to go through.

    The ingredients in this cat food are relatively poor. It includes brewer’s rice as the first ingredient. The second ingredient is hydrolyzed chicken liver. This chicken liver is treated to prevent it from flaring up allergies. However, there are easier ways to treat pet allergies, such as switching to a food that doesn’t include chicken if your cat is allergic to chicken (which is often much cheaper than choosing a hydrolyzed version).

    Antioxidants are included, which may help improve skin barrier function. It also helps eliminate skin irritation through hydrolyzed protein, though this is usually considered a last effort.

    • Includes hydrolyzed protein
    • Antioxidants
    • Expensive
    • Overkill for most cats
    • Requires a prescription

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Cat Food for Healthy Skin & Coat

    Buying the perfect cat food for your feline can seem complicated. After all, there are so many things to keep track of and often-used terminology that may make little sense. To help you make the best decision for your feline, we wrote this complete guide that contains everything you need to know about choosing the best sensitive skin and coat cat food for your feline.

    Ingredient List

    When looking at any cat food, the first thing you should do is take a look at the ingredient list. The first few ingredients should be based on quality meat. Because some high-quality foods only use one type of protein, it isn’t necessarily bad if there is only one type of meat product in the food, as long as it is listed first.

    This is especially true if your cat has allergies since many companies will reduce the number of ingredients in their food for those felines who have sensitivities. This is called a limited ingredient diet and it helps to reduce the chances number of ingredients that your cat could have an allergy or sensitivity against.

    Whole meat should be the first ingredient. Meat meal is meat that has been cooked down substantially, turning it into concentrated meat with very little moisture. It is more protein-dense than whole meat. However, it is usually made of rendered meat products, and the origin is not very clear. If it appears high on the ingredients list, the food includes plenty of protein. Whole meat is always preferable since it is less processed and preserves the quality, it is less dehydrated, and it allows you to know exactly what your cat is eating in its diet.

    Most cat food formulas include a range of veggies and fruits. This isn’t necessary in all cases, as many foods include all the nutrients cats need in a supplemented form. However, veggies and fruits can offer nutritional value as long as they are high-quality and not used as fillers.

    High levels of veggies like peas and potatoes are not recommended. These do have some nutritional value. However, many companies include far more than your cat can benefit from. These inexpensive veggies are often used as fillers in grain-free food in place of the usual grains.And, they end up adding unnecessary carbohydrates to your cat’s diet.

    cat eating food_ Seattle Cat Photo, Shutterstock
    Image Credit: Seattle Cat Photo, Shutterstock

    Protein and Fat Content

    You should also look at the protein content. Cats are obligate carnivores, so they need to eat a high amount of protein and fat. This describes the makeup of most meat. Sadly, many cat foods are relatively high in carbohydrates, as they include added grains and veggies. A little bit of carbohydrates is okay, but you want as little as possible. Choose the highest protein food you can afford.

    You should also be aware of the type of protein included. If a food includes many different meats, then most of the protein likely comes from animal products. Some companies will even list the percentage of their food’s animal protein in the description.

    Be aware of ingredients like pea protein and potato protein. These add quite a bit of protein to the food. However, it is vegetable-based protein, meaning it may not contain all the amino acids your cat needs. If a food has a high protein content but includes pea or potato protein, remember that not all of that high protein amount comes from meat.

    Siamese cat eating dry food from a bowl
    Image Credit: catinrocket, Shutterstock

    Ingredients for Sensitive Skin

    Because you’re specifically looking for cat food to support your feline’s sensitive skin, it is essential to choose a food that includes plenty of added ingredients for this purpose. For instance, your feline’s food should include a high amount of omega fatty acids. These are the most critical ingredient to support your cat’s fur and coat, so they are relatively significant.

    Usually, these are added through some fish products. Actually, whole fish may be included, but fish oil is equally as viable.

    You may also want to look for added moisture. Usually, this involves choosing wet food over dry food. Moisture can sometimes be reasonably helpful for coat and skin problems. However, it mostly depends on whether your feline is currently getting an appropriate amount of moisture in their regular diet. Some cats drink plenty of water, while others don’t.

    Antioxidants may be necessary as well. These should truthfully be in every cat food, but they are often lacking. Choose a cat food with a natural source of antioxidants if possible, such as berries or a similar ingredient.

    Probiotics and prebiotics can help if the source of your cat’s sensitive skin and coat is digestion-based. Of course, if your feline is allergic to something, you should avoid that as well.

    Want to see more cat food reviews? Check out our review page here!

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    Final Verdict

    Out of all the cat foods for sensitive skin that we reviewed, Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish Recipe is the best. This food isn’t even designed specifically for sensitive skin. However, it includes everything that your sensitive feline may need. The inclusion of fish ensures that the food includes plenty of omega fatty acids, as fish is a natural source.

    As a budget option, you may choose Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food. With lamb as the first ingredient and salmon oil included for added DHA and omega fatty acids.

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    Featured Image Credit: Redbarn, Chewy