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Published: Oct 27, 2011

A cat's overall health can be determined by the condition of its skin and coat. Healthy cats tend to have coats that are shiny and smooth rather than coarse and brittle. Additionally, their skin should be clear, with no flakes or bumps. Although usually cats take care of their skin and coat on their own, owners will still need to supply them with proper nutrition in order for them to look and feel their best, VCA Animal Hospitals reports.

As the skin is the largest organ of the body, skin cells have a fast turn-over rate. Furthermore, most cats shed and replace fur several times a year. In order to keep up with the constant changes in their body, cats require a diet that is a proper balance of highly digestible proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. VCA also reports that felines need cat food that offers plentiful calories to keep up with their typically energetic lifestyle, but overfeeding and obesity must be avoided. Without a correct balance of all nutrients, a cat will not thrive and an owner may detect a problem with how it looks on the outside.

Cats also tend to show how they're feeling emotionally through their coat and fur. If a feline is stressed or has grown ill it may start to shed excessively, or stop maintaining its normal grooming routine. If an owner notices such behavior in their cat, they should bring it to a veterinarian health clinic for a pet health exam.