How to handle cat shedding             

It is quite usual for a cat owner’s upholstery, carpets and clothing to be adorned with a sprinkling (or even a layer) of hair. While a relentless tide of fur can drive some owners to distraction, shedding is a normal part of being a cat. However, there are things you can do to help the situation.

All cats shed to remove dead hair from their coats and release natural oils in the skin. After the dead hair is removed, new hair grows in its place which is healthier and shinier. Shedding is very important because if a cat doesn’t get rid of its dead hair it can result in skin irritation and an unhappy cat.

Cats will spend between 30 and 50 percent of the day grooming themselves and much of this is to remove dead hair. Their rough, barbed tongues are useful in picking up loose hairs and distributing the skin oils through the coat. However, hairballs can form when a cat who is shedding a lot picks up too many hairs and swallows them, creating an undigestible clump. Specific hairball foods include added dietary fibres to aid in the passing of these hairs, reducing the need to bring them back up.

Seasonal shedding

Shedding is dependent on a cat’s environment and a cat will shed according to how many hours they have spent in sunlight. An outdoors cat that spends a lot of time lying in the sun will have their shedding triggered in the spring and autumn. In the spring they will shed their winter coat in preparation for warmer days and in the autumn, they will shed their summer coat in order to regrow their thicker winter version.

Indoor cats whose homes are centrally-heated and kept at a constant temperature won’t experience the seasonal variations that outdoors cats do. Instead of two big shedding sessions a year, they will lose their hair steadily throughout the year.

How to reduce shedding

While you can’t stop a cat losing its hair, there are things you can do to help reduce the amount of hair in your home.

  • Brush your pet regularly – daily if you can – to remove any excess hair before it is shed. You should get your pet used to being groomed from a young age as this is easier than introducing an adult cat to a hair brush. The best brushes for cats are those with rubber rubber bristles, such as the Kong Zoom Groom or Mikki Massage Slicker, or try the Furminator for a deeper clean. Try to avoid brushes with sharper spikes
  • Keep your cat’s skin in tip-top condition by ensuring they are getting all the nutrients they need in their diet. If your cat is suffering from poor skin condition, you could try one of the many omega-3 oil dietary supplements available.
  • Having fleas can make a cat shed more than usual so ensure your pet is protected from parasites with a regular treatment regime.
  • Stress can cause a cat to shed more than normal due to them over-grooming or not grooming enough. Big changes – such as moving home or the addition of another pet – can increase a cat’s stress level. Make sure your cat has a quiet safe space they can hide away in if they need to and consider using a calming diffuser or spray.
  • Ensure your cat is properly hydrated as dry skin is likely to result in excessive shedding. If you are struggling to get your cat to drink enough, opt for a pet drinking fountain that will supply a constant fresh source of water during the day. Many cats dislike drinking out of bowls and much prefer running water.
  • While it won’t reduce the amount that your cat sheds, getting a good vacuum cleaner will make life easier. Choose one specially designed to deal with pet hair and that has a HEPA filter to reduce allergens. A lint roller is also a handy tool to get stubborn hair out of furnishing and clothing – a washing machine won’t always be able to remove stuck-on hair.

When to be concerned

Sometimes it might look like there has been an explosion of hair in your home but it is perfectly normal for cats to shed a lot. However, if you notice that your cat is losing hair but not growing a new coat in its place it could be a sign that something is wrong. If your pet develops bald patches, or their skin looks red or sore, you should get them checked over by your vet.


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