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Why Is My Cat Shedding So Much?

cat shedding
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Cats are meticulous groomers, spending hours a day tending to their coats to keep them clean and healthy. 

Yet even with this meticulous grooming, it’s a natural fact of life that cats shed. Shedding gets rid of old hair, allowing room for new hair to come in. But sometimes, cats shed too much, which can signal a potential behavioral or health problem.

If your cat is shedding like crazy and you’re not sure why, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more about shedding in cats and what you can do to manage it.

Do Cats Shed?

Yep, all cats shed. Shedding is normal for cats and is part of the natural life cycle of their hair growth. Without shedding, old hair would pile up on a cat’s coat, increasing the risk of painful mats that are difficult to remove.

Several factors influence cat shedding:

  • Breed
  • Season 
  • Overall health
  • Coat characteristics (long hair, short hair)
  • Living environment (indoor vs. outdoor)

Cat breeds that shed a lot include long-haired breeds, such as the Maine Coon and Persian. Russian Blue and American Shorthair cats also shed a lot of hair.

And if you’re wondering if cats shed as much as dogs, the answer is that it depends. The factors that influence cat shedding also influence dog shedding. So, depending on the circumstances, some cats may shed more than dogs, while some dogs may shed more than cats.

Do Kittens Shed?

Despite their tiny size, kittens shed as well. However, the shedding will be minimal until they mature into adults. At that time, a kitten sheds its soft kitten coat for their adult coat.

Understanding Cat Shedding Season

A cat’s living environment plays a role in when shedding occurs. An indoor cat will shed throughout the year because they are not exposed to the normal fluctuations in seasonal temperatures.  

On the other hand, outdoor cats shed twice a year: in the spring and fall. Shedding in the spring removes the thick winter coat to prepare for warmer temperatures. Shedding in the fall removes the lighter spring coat to make room for the heavier winter coat.

Why is My Cat Shedding So Much?

Cat feet with cat hair

Although all cats shed, excessing shedding may indicate an underlying health or behavioral problem. If you’ve noticed that your cat is shedding more than usual, take them to your veterinarian for an examination. 

A history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests (e.g., bloodwork) will help your veterinarian determine the cause of your cat’s excessive shedding. 

Here are some reasons why cats may experience excessive shedding:

Allergies

Cats can develop skin, food, and environmental allergies that cause skin itchiness. Scratching the skin damages the hair and causes it to fall out more than usual. 

Skin Infection

Bacterial or fungal skin infections can also make the skin feel itchy and cause abnormalities, such as rashes. Skin infections can eventually lead to excessive shedding.

Metabolic Disease

Hyperthyroidism and kidney disease can disrupt the body’s normal metabolism, including the hair’s lifecycle, causing an increase in shedding. 

Fleas

Fleas are usually more problematic in dogs than cats. However, cats can get fleas. A flea infestation can cause intense itching and scratching, leading to more shedding than normal.

Stress

Cats can also shed more in stressful situations, such as moving or fighting for resources with another cat. This stress may cause a condition called ‘psychogenic alopecia,’ which occurs when a cat overgrooms in response to stress.

Poor Diet

A high-quality diet that is nutritionally complete and balanced promotes a healthy coat. On the flip side, a poor diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies, resulting in an unhealthy coat and shedding.

Old Age

Older cats sometimes struggle to groom themselves, which can result in matted fur and increased shedding. 

How to Stop Cat Shedding

grooming cat that is shedding

Because shedding is normal in cats, you won’t be able to fully stop your cat from shedding. The best you can do is minimize it.

Minimizing shedding is important because a cat that sheds excessively may ingest a lot of hair, raising the risk of intestinal blockage from a big hairball.

After your veterinarian has determined why your cat is shedding so much, they can help you devise a plan to decrease it. Here are some potential strategies:

Treat health issues. Treating or managing your cat’s underlying health issues can help get their shedding under control. For example, kidney disease can be managed with medication and dietary changes, and a year-round flea preventative would avoid an itchy flea infestation.

Reduce stress. Removing stressors in your cat’s environment will reduce their stress. Environmental enrichment (toys, scratchers, cat trees, etc.), interactive playtime, and plenty of resources for a multi-cat household are great ways to reduce stress.

 Improve your cat’s diet. A high-quality cat food with appropriate amounts of meat-based protein and healthy fat can improve coat quality and reduce shedding. Ask your veterinarian for diet recommendations if you’re unsure which diet would be best for your cat. 

In addition to these strategies, daily grooming can minimize shedding and promote a healthy coat. There are many cat grooming tools available, such as deshedding gloves, to help keep your cat’s coat in great shape. Consider talking with your veterinarian or a local groomer if you need guidance on selecting the right grooming tools for your cat. 

Cat Shedding FAQs

To recap and help you understand the ins and outs of cat shedding, we’ve rounded up some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject.

Do all cats shed? 

Yes. Shedding is a normal occurrence in cats to get rid of old hair and replace it with new, healthy hair.

When do cats shed the most? 

It depends. Indoor cats shed year-round. Outdoor cats shed the most in the spring (to get rid of their winter coat) and the fall (to make room for their winter coat).

Do long-haired cats shed more? 

Long-haired breeds, such as the Maine Coon and Persian, shed more than short-haired breeds. However, the American Shorthair can shed quite a bit.

Do cats shed more than dogs? 

Not necessarily. A long-haired cat may shed more than a short-haired dog. But a long-haired dog like the Golden Retriever will shed much more than a cat.

Do cats shed more when stressed? 

Yes, stress can cause increased shedding in cats and result in ‘psychogenic alopecia,’ which is hair loss due to excessive grooming as an attempt to relieve stress.

How to Reduce Cat Hair in Your Home

person brushing cat

Your cat’s shedding doesn’t have to be a nuisance for you. There are several ways in which you can reduce cat hair in your home without going to extreme measures.

Vacuum. A vacuum designed to clean up pet hair will help you keep your home from being overrun with cat hair. Follow the vacuum’s care and maintenance instructions to ensure that it remains effective at picking up the hair.

Remove cat hair from upholstery and clothing. Cat hair tends to end up everywhere. Using a brush designed to pick up cat hair, or even a simple roll of lint remover sheets, can get rid of hair from upholstery. You can use similar methods to help get cat hair off of clothing

Sweep up cat hair. A regular broom isn’t necessarily the best choice for sweeping up your cat’s hair. Consider using a wet mop or a dry mop designed specifically to remove pet hair.

Dust regularly. Dusting helps remove cat hair from surfaces such as coffee tables, desks, and kitchen counters.

Putting it All Together

Cat shedding is a fact of life for both cats and their owners, and knowing your cat’s normal shedding behavior can help you recognize when it’s happening more than usual. In talking to your veterinarian, you can figure out why and plan the best course of action to get things back on track.

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