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
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 it.
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 grooming.
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 with scissors.
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
Benefits of Regular Combing and Grooming:
• Removes dead and loose hair and reduces the
• Reduces the occurrence of hairballs, especially in the long-haired
• Keeps cat's coat smooth and free of knots and mats - little clumps of
• 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.