Why Do Cats Shed & What to Do

There’s nothing like the comfort of a soft fluffy feline in winter but come summer, your house resembles a werewolf’s cave! In most cases, this intensive fur loss is not a cause for concern as shedding is a natural process. Cats shed their hair in the same way that humans experience a certain amount of daily hair fall. The only difference is the quantity – while you have about 100,000 strands of hair on your head, the average house cat has a whopping 40 million hairs. It’s important to understand why cats shed so that you can take steps to deal with the problem. 

Why Do Cats Shed?

The main purpose of a cat’s coat of fur is to protect it from the cold. Their fur coat is made up of 3 individual layers – guard hair, awn hair and down the hair. The guard hair is long and coarse and forms the topmost layer of the cat’s fur coat while the soft short hair forms the lowest layer of down hair. Awn hair makes up the middle layer as it is not as short as down hair but not as long as guard hair. 

The topmost layer helps water to run off the fur while the lowest layer prevents the cold from reaching the cat’s skin. This is why a cat’s fur coat is much thicker in winter than in summer. Fur also provides protection from physical injury such as scratches and bites from other cats. 

Wild cats shed their coats twice a year – once in spring to get rid of their thick winter coat and then again in the fall to prepare for the next winter’s heavy coat. Although a cat sheds more fur in summer than in winter, the process is not influenced by temperature but by the availability of light. In winter, when the days are shorter, they retain their fur coat, but when summer comes around and the days are longer, they shed their coat. The artificial light inside your home is a constant throughout the year, which can alter your cat’s shedding pattern. You are more likely to notice a constant shedding throughout the year, irrespective of changes in season. 

Why Is My Cat Shedding A Lot?

Shedding is a natural process, but if you notice a sudden change in the amount of fur your cat sheds, it could indicate a more serious problem. Certain conditions can cause excessive fur loss in cats and require medical attention. These are 3 of the most common causes of excessive shedding in cats: 

Nutritional Deficiencies

There are a wide variety of cat food brands to choose from, but you need to pick one that suits your cat’s requirements. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing cat food such as ingredients, brand reliability, and AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) compliance. If you have recently switched to a cheaper cat food brand, you might notice that your cat is shedding a lot more. This is because low-quality cat food can lead to nutritional deficiencies, which in turn result in fur loss. Make sure that your cat’s diet has sufficient high-quality protein, vitamin A and vitamin E to promote a healthy coat and reduce shedding.

Stress

Stress is a common cause of feline fur loss. In most cases, this rapid shedding is a temporary problem that is resolved once the source of stress is removed. A sudden change in your cat’s environment can lead to stress-related fur loss. This could be the introduction of a new pet, a change in residence, or something as simple as a trip to the vet. Cats are also very sensitive to sound, so even the sounds of construction work in your neighborhood can make him scared and stressed. Cats feel safer when they are elevated, so create a cat cave at a height so that he can climb into it to feel secure. There are several ways to reduce anxiety in pets, so try a few to figure out which ones work for your cat.

Allergies and Parasites

Studies show that over 12% of cats suffer from feline atopic dermatitis or allergic dermatitis. This type of allergic reaction can be triggered by anything from grass and pollen to cigarette smoke, dust mites, and mold spores. If your cat has allergic dermatitis, his skin will be itchy, which will cause him to constantly scratch and bite himself. This greatly increases shedding and results in patches of skin with little to no fur. Similarly, parasites such as fleas and ringworm can cause itchiness and result in extensive hair loss. If you notice your cat grooming himself a lot more than usual or if he develops bald patches, take a trip to your vet to determine the root cause of the problem. For mild to moderate cases, using a medicated shampoo on a regular basis can help to treat allergies and minor parasitic infections.

How To Tackle Shedding

To reduce the amount of cat fur in your house, you will need to limit the amount of fur your cat sheds and figure out the best ways to get rid of cat fur.  Here are a few ways to solve your fur problem:

Use An Anti-Flea Treatment Once A Month

The bites from fleas, ticks, and lice are very itchy, and your cat may even develop a rash around the site of the bite. The vigorous and repeated scratching will not only increase the amount of fur your cat sheds but can also damage the skin and lead to bacterial infections. Use a topical treatment such as Ceva Catego for Cats once a month to get rid of existing parasites as well as prevent future infestations. This treatment is particularly effective as it kills adult fleas and ticks as well as the eggs and larvae.

Bathe Your Cat Every 4-6 weeks

Pet owners are often unsure about how often to bathe their cats or if they even need to bathe them at all. The frequency of bathing will depend largely on the breed – long-haired cats benefit from a shower every 4 weeks while short-haired cats will need a bath every 6 weeks or so. If your cat has a skin condition and is shedding more than usual, you can use an antiseptic lathering solution such as Douxo Chlorhexidine PS to reduce fur loss. The ingredients in this shampoo will help to reduce bacterial and fungal infections as well as reduce itching and inflammation.

Groom your cat every day

Don’t view grooming your cat as a tiresome daily chore that you rush through each morning as this will make it a stressful experience for your cat. Instead, set aside a little time when you get back from work to groom your cat so that this is a leisurely activity that both of you enjoy. Sit back in a comfortable chair and place an old satin pillowcase on your lap beneath your cat. Use a comb to get rid of tangles and then a grooming glove to get rid of all the loose fur. Satin has a glossy surface so you can simply wipe the fur off the pillowcase once you are done.

Brush Your Cat Once a Week

Brush your cat with a high-quality brush with long teeth at least once a week. Unlike the regular combs and grooming gloves that you use on a daily basis, a long-tooth brush will slide through the upper layers of fur and into your cat’s undercoat to remove loose fur before it gets onto your furniture. Cats have sensitive skin, so make sure that you use gentle strokes while brushing your cat.

Use a Diffuser to Reduce Feline Stress

Stress can cause cats to over-groom themselves, which will result in excessive shedding. A feline diffuser is a simple way to keep your cat calm and reduce stress-induced shedding. High-quality diffusers such as Feliway Classic contain cat pheromones that help cats to adjust to sudden changes in their environment. If you’ve moved to a new apartment or if you have renovation work going on at home, you can use this diffuser to help your cat stay stress-free. A diffuser will also help to reduce other stress-related issues such as urinating outside the litter box and urine spraying.

Use a Pet Hair Remover Regularly

CARPET-PET-HAIR-REMOVERPet hair removers are a quick and easy way to remove fur from your furniture and clothes. Instead of a lint roller that requires refills, you can opt for a reusable brush with a self-cleaning base. This will help to reduce the amount of cat fur in your home. If your cat is going through a natural shedding stage, vacuum your place daily and focus on his bedding.

Use a Manual Trimmer Instead of an Electric

FURMINATORCATLong-haired cat breeds often face problems in summer. If your vet recommends that you trim your cat’s fur, use a manual trimmer instead of an electric one. Cats get scared by the sound of the electric razor, which will increase their stress levels and cause excessive shedding. A manual trimmer with long teeth will allow you to effortlessly trim your cat’s fur in a stress-free manner.

Shedding is a natural process, but if you notice a sudden increase in fur loss, you should make an appointment with your vet. This is important because fungi and bacteria can spread from pets to their owners. Bacteria such as the E.coli bacteria can spread from cats to their owners resulting in food poisoning, urinary tract infections, and even pneumonia. 


Authors Bio:

Anita Fernandes has been writing extensively on health and wellness for over a decade. She has expertise in nutrition, fitness, public health, and weight loss and has contributed content to a variety of leading digital health publishers. Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle, as she has battled and overcome chronic back pains. She shares her experiences in an effort to help others overcome the physical and mental health problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.

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