Your cat's diet and skin condition
Your cat's hair is 95% protein, with hair growth and skin renewal using up to 30% of your pet's daily protein intake. Therefore, a protein deficiency in your cat's diet can lead to poor skin and coat quality, including scaly skin, hair which is easily shed, color loss, poor growth and thin, dull or brittle hair.
If your cat is lacking essential fatty acids, like omega 3 and omega 6, you may also notice problems such as oily or dry skin, and hair with a dull sheen. Some essential fatty acids can't be synthesized by your cat, so they need to be a part of its daily diet.
Giving your cat a complete, balanced food is the simplest way to protect against these deficiencies; you can also get food which is designed for cats struggling with their dermatological health, which will boost their skin and coat quality.
A cat's skin condition and lifestyle factors
If your cat regularly ventures outside, you might find it's prone to picking up environmental debris which irritates its skin, such as splinters or grass seeds; remember to pick these off when your cat comes in from roaming to prevent scratching or itching.
You may also find your cat occasionally gets bitten by other animals (especially if it hasn't been neutered). These bites can become abscesses if germs get into the wound, causing swelling, inflamed skin and a temperature. Your vet will conduct a deep cleanse of the wound as treatment.
Washing your cat is a good idea, but be careful to only use products designed for cats as they have more acidic skin than humans; human shampoo can end up irritating them and causing skin problems.
If you think your cat might be suffering from a skin complaint or condition, consult your vet right away—you'll be able to start treatment quickly and save your cat any further discomfort.