The truth about cat shedding is that this is a normal, natural
process in a cat’s life. Humans have periods of hair growth and shedding
too. Shedding is how animals replenish their fur and keep it in good condition.
Cats in the wild generally shed their coats twice yearly; in
the spring to lose the heavy winter undercoat and in the fall in preparation
for the "grow-in" of the next winters' undercoat. However, since we
have domesticated cats and subjected them to air-conditioning in summer and artificial
heat in winter, their systems have become confused enough to put them into a
constant shedding state. This is normal.
Cats shed in order to remove dead fur from their bodies. Dead
fur can cause skin irritation so it needs to be removed. If the dead fur is not
removed via combing and grooming, the cat’s body will remove it by shedding
Shedding is considered a sign of health in a cat, because sick
cats do not shed their fur. Shedding occurs for different reasons, but depends
largely on the amount of time your cat spends outdoors or whether your cat is
purely an indoor cat. The shedding is largely influenced by daylight, and this
is called the “photoperiod”. The number of hours a cat is exposed
to sunlight in a day (photoperiod) triggers the shedding process. In addition,
shedding varies considerably among the different breeds. Indoor cats shed at
any time of the year and the amount of shedding hair is less than outdoor cats
due to the artificial light inside the house, and from the controlled temperature
in your home.
Outdoor cats shed in the spring when the days start to lengthen
and they spend more time outside. You will not see much if any shedding of your
outdoor cat during the winter months, because they naturally will hold on to
all their fur to use as thermal protection from the cold conditions.
There are two breeds whose shedding is minimal - the Cornish
Rex, which has short, curly fur that lies close to the body, and the Devon Rex
which has similar coat of thin curly fur across its body. Because of their very
short and fine fur, the shedding from these two breeds is barely noticeable.
There is one breed that does not shed and that is the purebred hairless Sphynx.
This cat is not completely hairless because it has a fine down all over its body.
This breed is rare and it needs a special kind of care, but is a good choice
for people with allergies.
Shedding in cats can be controlled with frequent brushing and
combing. Daily brushing and combing removes loose and dead hair and helps keep
a cat’s skin and coat healthy. Cats with healthy fur coats who are groomed
regularly do tend to shed a bit less.
Tips for Grooming:
1. Start brushing your cat slowly, keeping the sessions short
and positive and stopping before your cat protests.
2. Using food treats can help make the experience easier for
you and more pleasant for your cat. This may also help your cat learn to enjoy
3. As your cat learns to enjoy the grooming sessions, you can
gradually make them last longer. Eventually the grooming sessions will be long
enough to thoroughly remove dead fur and skin, which will ultimately result in
fewer sessions. Frequent grooming will also help reduce the amount of fur your
cat sheds around the home.
4. When you comb your cat, comb her carefully in the direction
of hair growth to smooth the coat and remove any minor knots or tangles. If the
coat has a particularly stubborn knot or tangle, you may have to trim it off
5. For longhaired cats, begin with a wide-toothed comb and follow
up with a fine-toothed comb. To avoid injury, if your cat's coat has severe matting,
you might want to consult a veterinarian before attempting to groom the cat yourself.
Whether purebred or mixed breed, a key to good brushing lies
in the length of a cat’s coat. A cat with a very short, single coat similar
to the Siamese, Burmese and Cornish Rex needs very little brushing. The dense-coated
shorthaired cats like American shorthairs; British shorthairs and Scottish folds
require a monthly brushing session. Semi-longhaired cats resembling Maine coons
should be combed and bathed even more regularly. Cats with long, flowing coats
resembling the Persian should be combed and have their faces cleaned at least
every other day, and they should be bathed weekly or bi-weekly.
Benefits of Regular Combing and Grooming:
• Removes dead and loose hair and reduces the
• Reduces the occurrence of hairballs, especially in the
• Keeps cat's coat smooth and free of knots and mats - little clumps
of fur that sometimes form
• This is a great way to further bond with your cat
• Allows you to keep an eye on your cat's coat and skin
for potential problems, such as parasites and skin conditions
before they become serious.
Other ways to reduce your cat’s shedding is to keep your
cat healthy and feed her a quality cat food. You should feed your cat with nutritionally
complete and balanced cat food that has all the nutrients a cat requires for
healthy skin and coat. There are also some products on the market that can be
applied to your cat’s fur to reduce daily shedding. There are vitamins
derived from fish oils that provide omega-3 fatty acids that strengthen the coat.
You can also find topical sprays, which alter and reduce the shedding cycle.
Your veterinarian can tell you which products are effective and what’s
best for your cat.
If heavy shedding is consistent throughout the year, the cat
may have food sensitivity or a dust allergy. In extreme cases of shedding, when
your cat is actually sick from excessive hairballs, some veterinarians recommend
shaving the cat three to four times a year. But In both cases you should consult
with your veterinarian to determine the cause of such shedding.