If you have a cat that is shedding excessively, it is understandable if you are concerned, or at the very least frustrated. Asking other cat owners ‘Why is my cat shedding so much?’ may not be helpful here, as each cat has their issues and behaviors. The key is learning about the potential reasons for your cat’s shedding first and then taking action.If you want to know how to minimize shedding in cats and understand more about exactly why your cat is shedding fur at such a high rate, here we look to explain it all.
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Why Do Cats Shed So Much?If you think that your cat is shedding more hair than you expect, this doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. What cat owners first need to understand are the four stages of hair growth that cats will go through each year. These four stages are as follows:
- Anagen phase: New cat hair grows.
- Catagen phase: Cat’s hair reaches the full length and then stops growing.
- Telogen phase: During this phase, no hair is lost or gained.
- Exogen phase: Cat hair is once again shed, to begin the cycle again.
HealthMost of you will understandably be worried if you notice more cat hair around the home than usual. Most health issues that cause an increase in normal shedding volume are simple to treat, but you first have to identify them. Parasites such as mites, fleas, and lice are a common issue here and will cause your cat to shed more fur than usual. These parasites irritate your cat’s skin and as your cat scratches and bites at the affected area, you’ll see more loose hairs throughout your home. When treating parasites you’ll need to treat both your cat and your home, to ensure zero risk of those parasites causing your cat further problems. Another potential issue your cat may have is ringworm, a fungal infection passed via contact with infected animals. This infection will also irritate your cat’s skin, resulting in more scratching, more frustration, and, more dead hair around your home. Once diagnosed, ringworm is very easy to treat, usually through oral medication. Metabolic diseases like hyperthyroidism and kidney disease are also two common ailments that can result in excessive shedding. Both of these cases can also be treated, usually through dietary changes. It is unlikely that your cat’s shedding is an indication of anything life-threatening, but you should always check with your vet if you are concerned. Any of the above health concerns will hurt your cat’s well-being, which is why you should look to take swift action.
BreedThe amount of hair your cat loses is highly dependent on what kind of breed you have. Much like dogs, some breeds of cats shed more than others, simply because it is built into their DNA. American Bobtail, American Curl, Chartreux, and Cymric are just some examples of cats that shed heavily. These cats are historically from environments whereby this was necessary to survive. These breeds must continue to do this to maintain a healthy coat. Make sure you know what breed you have so that you know more or less what to expect when it starts to shed.
AgeExcessive shedding can often be put down to the age of your cat. Two main factors cause this. Firstly we should consider that older cats groom far less than younger cats. This is often down to restricted mobility caused by tight joints or arthritis and means that they can’t remove the loose hair from their coats. Secondly, there is natural hair loss that cats experience when they get older, as a result just like humans do. This is down to a decrease in hormone production, resulting in a thinner coat and more hair loss.
AllergiesAn allergen may be the root cause of your cat’s coat thinning out so much. Once again, hair loss is not directly attributed to the allergy, but rather a byproduct of the irritation that it causes. Your cat may be allergic to pollen, insects, or even have food allergies that you aren’t aware of. If you have addressed other potential issues and come up short, taking your cat for an allergy test is a good idea. This may help you find the route to reduce your cat’s hair loss.
StressStress impacts cats a great deal, and often manifests itself in physiological ways, including hair loss. A cat sheds hair for many reasons but when it is stress-related, it does so as a result of its excessive licking. Cats are sensitive creatures and can get very stressed out if things change in their lives. A house move, family death, or even the introduction of a new pet could all increase your cat’s stress levels.
DietThe health of your cat’s coat is very dependent on the diet that it is eating. If you have changed the cat’s diet for any reason, this could certainly increase shedding. This is one cause of increased shedding that may be easier to identify. If you have recently changed your cat’s wet food to dry, or changed brands, you may start to see more loose hair on the floor at home. Continue with the new food for a couple of weeks and you should see less cat hair. If you don’t, speak with your vet about the right diet for your cat.
When Do Cats Shed The Most?As you can probably imagine, cats shed hair for temperature control as much as anything else. This is why we are most likely to see a cat shedding in the springtime, in preparation for the warmer summer months. Cat shedding will also occur in the fall, as your cat will look to shed its summer coat to bring in warmer, thicker fur for the winter. If you notice excessive shedding in the summer or winter, there is likely something wrong.
How to Reduce Shedding in CatsTo reduce cat shedding there are several options that you can explore. As we have established, a cat regularly sheds most during the fall and the spring, and there is little you can do to go against nature here. Most cats simply need to have a healthy lifestyle to take care of themselves. From an owner’s point of view, this means a healthy diet, based on the breed, age, and size of their cat. Hydration and a well-balanced diet are both important in reducing shedding in cats. Another tip to reduce cat shedding is to start a grooming routine with your kitty. You should brush your cat daily to get rid of loose fur. Cats will groom themselves but that hair could end up anywhere around your home, most likely your clothes and furniture. If you are the one to brush your cat, you can manage where all of that hair goes. Some other ways that you can decrease shedding include:
- Shaving your cat (be sure to use a professional groomer for this)
- Give the cat a bath
- Use a vacuum or pet hair lint roller to remove excess fur