Shedding is a normal bodily process for a healthy cat in which old hair is replaced by new. In reality, cats shed a bit every day and go through a couple of heavy shedding and hair growing cycles each year.
However, you usually end up asking, “why is my cat shedding so much?” when you see more hair than usual around the house.
Though all cats shed, some breeds shed more than others, such as:
- Persian cats
- Russian Blues
- Maine Coons
- American shorthaired cats
Though an average amount of shedding is acceptable for most cats, too much shedding can indicate a health issue.
Read on to find answers to your question, “why is my cat shedding so much?”
When does cat shedding become a concern?
Who knows your cat better than you. Therefore you should know how much shedding is normal for your cat and the seasonal cycles of shedding. The presence of more cat hair than usual is a sign of a problem.
Below are telltale signs to watch out for
1. Cat alopecia
Cat alopecia is a condition where your cat may experience a partial or complete loss of hair in some regions of the body. If your cat is losing hair and scratching a lot in a specific area, you should take her to a vet for further investigation.
2. Itching, scratching, chewing
If your cat appears to be scratching and chewing a part of its body, you should contact your vet for a check-up. Your vet will be able to recommend any further tests that may be required.
3. Inflamed skin
If your cat is losing hair and the skin under the fur appears red and inflamed, consult a veterinarian for further investigation. The skin in a healthy cat should be clear and not red or bumpy. Skin inflammation is an allergic reaction in cats triggered by pollen, parasites, cigarette smoke, etc.
Cats spend about 50% of their day grooming themselves. There are tiny structures on the cat’s tongue that collect loose hair, which the cat ends up swallowing.
A lot of the hair will pass through the digestive system without any issues. However, if hair remains in the stomach, it turns into a hairball.
Cats vomit to get rid of the hairball. If your cat is throwing up more hairballs than usual, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
5. Condition of coat
The quality of the fur is also a good indicator of whether you should be concerned about your cat’s loss of hair. A healthy coat should be smooth to touch, uniform, soft and shiny. However, if the cat is experiencing stress or is sick, the fur will be rough and brittle.
6. Excessive grooming
Cats spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming themselves; however, if your cat grooms herself more than usual (licking and scratching), something may be wrong. Check out our 10 tips to stop cat overgrooming.
Causes of shedding
A cat may scratch herself excessively due to environmental allergies or food allergies, which can contribute to hair loss. Food, pollen, dust, weed, etc., trigger allergies in cats.
Though it may not be possible to cure allergies completely, you can manage them by taking care of your cat’s diet and providing medication. In addition, switching to a hypoallergenic diet can help.
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Fleas, ticks, lice, and mites can cause the cat to scratch and lick herself too much leading to bald areas in the fur and even sores. If your cat seems to have a bug or parasitic infestation, seek veterinary care immediately.
A fungus causes ringworm infection, and it appears as a red and itchy circular rash on the skin of your cat. In cats, ringworm infection can cause a circular area of hair loss. If you suspect ringworm infection in your cat, consult your veterinarian for a treatment plan.
4. Metabolic disease
Kidney disease or thyroid issues can cause hair loss in cats. Since the symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats tend to vary, it’s difficult to identify without consulting a vet. Cats suffering from thyroid problems suffer weight and hair loss.
5. Stress or boredom
Stressed or bored cats can groom themselves excessively, leading to bald areas in their coats. Overgrooming due to anxiety or boredom is known as “psychogenic alopecia.”
Cats with psychogenic alopecia lick and chew their fur due to stress. Since grooming releases endorphin, a hormone that makes a cat feel good, the cat will continue to lick its fur to calm itself, leading to hair loss.
Changes in their environment affect cats, so anything new or moved in their immediate surroundings can upset them and lead to overgrooming.
Cat owners should be careful about introducing sudden changes to their pets’ environment. If your cat is stressed, you need to consult your vet, who may prescribe anti-anxiety medication to help with the treatment.
6. Low-quality Food
A poor diet or the absence of a balanced diet can lead to hair loss in a cat. Changing your cat’s diet to high-quality food will help to develop healthy skin and coat.
The absence of high-quality protein in the diet or protein that is hard to digest can cause your cat’s hair to be brittle and thinner. In addition, your cat needs Vitamin A and Vitamin E for a healthy and shiny coat.
7. Hormonal imbalance
Hormonal imbalances in cats can cause loss of hair and disorders of the skin. Your veterinarian can conduct tests to see if hormonal issues are causing hair loss. If the issue is caused by imbalance in the reproductive hormones, your vet can prescribe therapy to resolve the issue.
Parasitic infections can cause cat shedding and poor quality of fur. Consult your vet to rule out infections caused by tapeworms.
9. Dryness of skin
Dry skin can also be the reason that your cat is shedding. The presence of dandruff like material on your cat’s fur indicates dry skin. Dry skin in cats can lead to hair fall. Solutions to the problem include using a humidifier in your home, feeding a high quality diet, giving your cat a fatty acid supplement and brushing and bathing your cat regularly.
10. Pregnant or nursing
Changes in the hormone levels due to pregnancy or nursing can also cause your cat to shed more than average. There may be areas without hair on your cat’s tummy, especially where the kittens nurse. Loss of hair due to nursing will resolve itself once the kittens are weaned.
Below are a few tips for managing excessive shedding in your cat:
Brushing your cat every day can help to reduce shedding and to prevent matted hair. Make sure to use a comb that is appropriate for the length and thickness of your cat’s fur to avoid pulling out hair or causing discomfort. In addition, regular brushing will help remove dead hair and strengthen the bond you share with your pet.
Fix diet issues
Make sure to go for high-quality food formulated for reducing shedding in cats. Look for food rich in high-quality proteins as cats are obligate carnivores. Lack of high-quality protein will affect the quality of your cat’s coat. After all, hair comprises keratin, which is a protein. Also, look for dietary fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids necessary to reduce shedding.
Make sure that your feline friend is drinking sufficient water and is staying hydrated. Insufficient water intake in cats affects the proper functioning of organs such as the kidneys and also causes excessive shedding of hair.
To ensure sufficient water intake, you can include some wet food in their diet and place a few water bowls around the house. Additionally, you can also use a cat water fountain as cats are fond of running water.
Bathe your cat once a month
Bathe your cat once a month and give her a blow-dry to remove extra hair and prevent the coat from getting matted.