One of the tell-tale signs of cat ownership is the seemingly endless supply of cat hair that manages to get everywhere—like your clothes, furniture and sometimes even food. Shedding can become a nuisance. It can also get scary for owners when it seems like their cat is losing more hair than it should be.
If your cat seems to lose more and more hair every day, it might be suffering from a health problem. However, every cat sheds differently, and sometimes shedding is dictated by the seasons or other factors. Knowing what kinds of shedding is normal for your cat can help you determine if it actually has a health problem and how to treat it.
How much shedding is normal?
Most cat owners ask vets, “how much shedding is normal?�? This is a difficult question to answer because every cat is different. Some cats don’t shed at all, while others lose clumps of hair every day. The only true way to tell how much shedding is “normal�? for your cat is to pay attention to it for an extended period of time to gauge its shedding cycles.
There’s a good chance that your cat’s average shedding amount is perfectly normal—it just may seem like a lot if you don’t brush it often or if its hair is long and very visible on surfaces. More shedding is also normal during the springtime. To help them stand up to the winter chill, many cats grow and hold onto extra hair in the fall and winter seasons, then let that excess hair go in spring.
However, if you think you have a firm idea of how much your cat typically sheds, and it suddenly begins shedding much more than that, you should be concerned.
Why your cat might be shedding more
If your cat goes from minor shedding to intense hair loss overnight, it may be suffering from a health problem that’s affecting its skin and hair growth. Here are some of the most common hair-related health problems in cats.
- Poor diet: If your cat is not getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals through its diet, this could be making your cat’s hair fall out faster. Inadequate vitamins can first make your cat’s hair look dull, then increase shedding because the body is using the vitamins it does get for energy purposes instead of maintaining your cat’s coat.
- Allergies: Some allergic reactions to food, fleas or allergens like pollen and mold could result in atopic dermatitis, an allergic reaction on your cat’s skin. This can cause your cat to shed more. Additionally, your cat might start to itch and lick itself to soothe the itchy feelings, pulling more hair out in the process.
- Thyroid issues: If your cat has an over- or under-active thyroid, the hormonal imbalances the health problem causes may lead to excessive hair loss.
- Pregnancy: If your cat has not been spayed, there’s a chance it might be losing hair because it is pregnant! Hormonal changes in pregnant cats can increase shedding, especially on the stomach area.
Hair-related issues to watch out for
If you notice your cat is losing a lot more hair than usual, check over its body to see if it has any skin problems, such as bald spots, inflamed or flaky skin or patches of thinning hair. These aren’t typically related to shedding, but rather indicate overgrooming.
Cats tend to overgroom when they are feeling stressed and anxious, since grooming is a method of self-soothing for felines. Stress may also make your cat lose more hair naturally. Watch for other signs of distress, such as hiding, cowering or sudden aggression. Then, try identifying the cause of the stress and minimizing it.
Cat hair care tips
You can help your cat remove its excess fur and minimize the amount being deposited on your furniture and clothes by grooming it regularly. Get a wire or plastic-bristled brush and brush your cat’s fur at least once a day to remove the excess hair.
Brushing will also help distribute your cat’s natural oils throughout its hair, making its coat look shinier and healthier. Most cats love this, since the feeling of being groomed is calming, and the process can actually help strengthen the bond between you and your cat.
You shouldn’t need to bathe a cat very often—its self-cleaning techniques help keep it skin and coat clean. However, your cat may need a soothing bath if it’s experiencing skin troubles like fleas, allergies or other skin irritants. Bathing your cat can help clean its skin of impurities and reduce the risk of future hair loss due to irritation.
Ultimately, if you notice that your cat is experiencing rapid hair loss as well as other health symptoms, take it into a vet to have it examined. It may be suffering from an unseen health problem that requires attention.