Shed Happens…with Cats too!
on April 12, 2011
Posted in Cats
Seasonal shedding is a little different with cats because so many spend their lives indoors.
The growth cycle of a cats’ fur is similar to a dogs, made up of the three phases we talked about previously. Anagen is active growth, Catagen is the transition period and Telogen is the dormant or resting phase. In the wild, cats will shed their fur twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, getting rid of the previous seasons coat and making way for a heavier or lighter version. We will certainly see this more with cats that go outside. For indoor cats, shedding happens all year round because of the more constant temperatures and indoor lighting. However, seasonal shedding can still happen based on the amount of sunlight or daylight they are exposed to (photoperiod). Changes in sunlight cause the cats brain to signal its’ hair follicles to respond appropriately. During periods of less sunlight, cats grow short, fluffy secondary hairs that, like a dogs’ undercoat, provide insulation. With more sunlight, they lose those hairs.
Shedding varies with breed, genetics, nutrition, general health, stress, exercise, environment and the amount of grooming.
Is there a non-shedding cat breed?
Yes….the Sphynx. Unusual and rare, the Sphynx is not totally hairless but has a fine down all over the body that feels very much like peach fuzz. Two other breeds are touted as shedding minimally. The Cornish Rex, with its’ short, curly fur and the Devon Rex, which is very similar but has an even thinner coat.
Aside from these three unique members of the species, we have a variety of coat types and they all shed. Siamese and Burmese types have very short, single coats. There are the denser coats of American and British shorthairs, semi-long haired cats like Maine coons and those with long flowing coats resembling Persians. Of course our domestic kitties come with short, medium and long hairs in every density and color.
In our next article, we’ll talk about grooming…how to avoid getting buried under a mountain of fur!
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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