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 8 Ways to Reduce Cat Shedding

Drowning in Cat Hair? 8 Ways to Reduce Cat Shedding

Shedding is a natural phenomenon in cats. Unfortunately, it can also be a point of frustration for cat owners. And excessive shedding can lead to problems like hairballs.

So, how much shedding is too much? And what can be done to stop cat shedding? Read on to learn more.

Why Does My Cat Shed So Much?

Depending on your individual cat—including factors such as their breed, fur type, and responses to the weather and seasonal cues—the amount of normal shedding you see may vary. But it’s safe to say that all cats (hairless breeds are a notable exception) experience some type of shedding of their fur.

Shedding is healthy and natural.

Since shedding is a natural process, unfortunately that means there’s not a “cure” for shedding—unless, of course, your cat’s shedding is due to a medical condition. 

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the amount of pet hair in your home, even with “normal” shedding.

Potential Causes of Cat Shedding

Common causes of shedding in cats include:

  • A normal/natural process. Cats shed and grow new fur all the time, with seasonal shedding being very common as the weather warms up or cools down.
  • Breed. Cats with certain types of hair coats, especially long-haired breeds, tend to shed more.
  • Stress, fear, or anxiousness.
  • Poor nutrition.
  • Anything that makes it difficult for a cat to groom themselves.
  • Medical causes (more on this below).

Medical Conditions that May Contribute to Shedding

As a general guideline, cats that are experiencing normal shedding will have a healthy hair coat. Their fur will be shiny or fluffy, without any bald patches, oiliness, or odors.

On the other hand, a cat that is shedding more due to a medical cause may have a dull or thin haircoat, hair loss or even bald patches, rashes, or other abnormalities. This could be caused by an allergy, a skin infection, a hormonal imbalance, or many other types of health problems.

Also, old age, arthritis, or pain can make it difficult for a cat to groom themselves. Therefore, a cat will appear to shed more because they can no longer groom the shedding fur away on their own. 

With all this in mind, it’s never a bad idea to call your vet’s office and see if they recommend a visit, since sometimes shedding (especially a sudden increase) can be indicative of pain or a medical condition.

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How to Keep Cats From Shedding

In addition to the convenience of not having cat hair on everything you own, reduced shedding carries other benefits for you and kitty alike.

When cats groom themselves, they swallow hair in the process. This is natural and most of that hair passes through the digestive system just fine. However, excessive shedding can lead to a cat vomiting up hairballs

Brushing and other shedding reduction efforts help to prevent this, since you remove the excess fur so your cat doesn’t have to do it themselves.

Also, shedding reduction can benefit humans in the household by decreasing exposure to allergens. People tend to be allergic to the cat’s dander or saliva rather than the hair. But reducing the spread of hair will also reduce the spread of these allergens.

Here are 8 tips that can help reduce shedding:

  • Consult your veterinarian first, to rule out any medical conditions that need to be addressed.
  • Feed your cat a good quality, nutritionally complete and balanced cat food to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need. This includes drinking enough water, too. In some cases, a cat food designed to support skin and coat health may be appropriate.
  • Consider supplements designed for cats, such as omega fatty acids for skin and coat health. These supplements may be included in certain cat foods, or given separately. Just check with your vet prior to giving any new medication or supplement, for your cat’s safety.
  • Minimize stress as much as possible, especially during times of transition such as a move to a new home.
  • Learn how to brush your cat, so fur ends up on the brush rather than on the floor or your clothing. Many cats enjoy being brushed, assuming the brush is comfortable for them (i.e., no hard tips digging into their skin and no harsh pulling at mats in the fur). Choose the best type of brush for your cat. There are many options available for both long- and short-haired breeds. Some are specially designed to de-shed a cat (the Furminator is a popular brand). Others are softer, including some that are shaped like gloves rather than traditional brushes. It may take some trial and error to find the best option. Watch your kitty’s response and choose a brush that is effective but also enjoyable (or at least tolerable) for them. Try to brush your cat once a day, if possible. Make it into a routine, and offer praise, treats, or extra attention to make brushing an especially enjoyable experience.
  • Groom, bathe, or shave your cat. Shaving a cat won’t entirely prevent shedding—a cat will still shed, but the hairs will be shorter. And, shaving may affect your cat’s ability to control their body temperature, so keep them indoors and provide blankets or cozy cat beds for them. This is a good option for some kitties, especially long-haired breeds who are prone to tangles and mats. You may try it at home if you’re comfortable. For shaving, use guards on the clippers and avoid shaving too close to the skin. Use clippers designed for pets—a low-noise option is best for cats. Check that the clippers aren’t getting too hot, as this can cause burns on the skin. Many pet owners prefer a professional groomer. It’s not unusual for cats to get very stressed with bathing or shaving, and many must be sedated for these procedures. A groomer working with a veterinary hospital is a good option for these kitties. 
  • Give your cat their own bed, cat tower, etc. If your cat has a special location where they love to sleep and hang out, it’s likely that a lot of their shedding fur will collect there. This makes it a little easier to clean up.
  • Use environmental control to minimize the cat hair in your home. Try an air filter to capture free-floating fur. Vacuum and wash linens often. And keep hair rollers on hand for your clothing and furniture.

When to Call the Vet

Any time you notice anything different with your cat—whether it’s a change in their grooming behavior, increased shedding, or anything else—it’s a good idea to contact your vet’s office and see if they recommend a visit. Cats are subtle and tend to hide symptoms of illness, so a small change could indicate something that needs to be checked out.

If you notice obvious symptoms—like bald patches, excessive mats, red or irritated skin, signs of illness, changes in bathroom habits, etc.—that definitely warrants a vet visit.

Once it’s determined that your cat’s skin and coat are healthy and their shedding is normal, talk to your vet team about additional recommendations to manage your cat’s shedding. 

You love your cat, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to love having cat hair everywhere! 

Finding some practical ways to reduce your cat’s shedding can mean less time cleaning up fur, and more time snuggling with your furry friend.

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