Your Cat’s Excessive Shedding May Need to be Monitored
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on June 22, 2018
Posted in Grooming
Part of being a cat owner is knowing that if you wear dark clothing around your cat, it might not remain dark due to being covered in hair! Cats shed their fur—it’s just a fact. But what happens if you feel like the fur you are discovering around your home is too much to be normal?
While the consistent shedding of dead hair is to be expected, shedding an excessive amount of hair might actually indicate something is wrong. As a pet owner, you have the responsibility of monitoring your cats and paying attention to the amount of fur they shed, so you’re able to catch if something is very wrong early on.
Causes for concern
Your cat may experience one to two hair growth cycles per year, meaning they will shed all that hair at some point. Indoor cats will usually shed consistently throughout the entire year, but they also may have bouts of more intense shedding near the spring and summer months. This level of shedding is normal and should not bring about any alarm.
However, there are a number of symptoms that may accompany your cat’s shedding that would be cause for concern.
For example, if your cat is licking, biting, chewing or scratching at parts of its fur, you should have it checked out. Additionally, visit a vet if you notice your cat has bald spots, sores or wounds or if the fur has thinned significantly.
If your cat is vomiting up hairballs more often than usual, it might mean that it is shedding a lot more and is swallowing more hair during everyday grooming routines.
Excessive shedding in cats might indicate a number of different medical problems. The only real way to figure out what is wrong with your feline friend is to take it to the vet. Here are some of the more common causes of excess shedding:
- Poor nutrition: If your cat is not getting the proper mix of nutrients it needs, its fur will suffer. A poor diet may result in excessive shedding and the hair looking coarser and less shiny over time.
- Allergic reactions: A food or environmental allergy may cause cats to have atopic dermatitis, or an itchy reaction on the skin. This can lead to your cat licking, scratching or biting its skin to relieve the itchiness, causing hair loss.
- Stress: Stress can cause cats to self-injure, including tearing out or biting off their own hair. Stressors may include a change of environment, alterations in the family or anxiety.
- Parasites: Parasites like fleas bite your cat’s skin and cause an allergic reaction that feels extremely itchy. To try to soothe the itch and get the fleas off, cats will over-groom, bite and scratch, which causes hair loss.
- Hormonal changes: If your cat is pregnant, it may just be undergoing some regular hormonal changes. These can sometimes result in hair loss, but the issue should be rectified after the cat gives birth.
- Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism, caused by dysfunction in the thyroid gland and the secretion of too many thyroid hormones, can result in excessive shedding. This condition can be serious and should be taken care of as soon as possible.
Preventing hair loss
Dealing with a bunch of loose, shed hair clumps is enough of a pain without there being even more. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize your cat’s shedding so it and its hair remain healthy.
- Groom regularly: You should brush your cat’s coat at least three times a week, if not more, to reduce the amount of loose hair it sheds. Use a wide-tooth wire brush and move in the direction of the hair all over your cat’s body. Not only will this help pick up excessive fur, most cats also love it! You also may want to bathe your cat every once in a while to help it get rid of dead skin cells and keep its skin clean and healthy.
- Feed healthy diet: A healthy diet is absolutely necessary for cats to maintain a healthy coat. Feed your cat a diet filled with omega-3 fatty acids and oils designed to grow healthy hair while also providing all the other nutrients it needs.
- Check skin: Make sure to do a routine check of your cat’s skin and hair to make sure there are no issues you are missing. Be on the lookout for blood, inflamed skin, bald spots, sores and other indicators of skin problems. If left unattended, your cat may try to overgroom and cause hair loss.
Shedding in cats is completely normal, but you as the owner will know when the hair coming out of your cat is just too much. Keep a close eye on your feline to notice any strange behaviors with the skin and take it to the vet right away if excessive shedding is accompanied by strange behavior or signs of distress.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan