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Cat Shedding 101 — Cat laying down with human combing its hair with a brush

Cat Shedding 101: From Hairball Highway to Fur-Free (Or Close)

It’s something every cat owner knows all too well — fur on your couch, fur stuck to your leggings, and a little extra “seasoning” on whatever you happen to make for dinner. 😬

But, hey, you knew what you signed up for the day you brought home your new feline friend, right? You accepted the terms and conditions:

  • There will be nightly 3am zoomies.
  • I can’t have nice things.
  • There will be cat hair on (and in) absolutely everything.

While you can’t stop cat shedding, there ARE some things you can do to manage it… and reduce the amount of fur you end up eating.

Here’s everything you ever wanted to know (and some things you didn’t) about cat shedding. 😸

Why do cats shed?

Cats — like all mammals with fur or hair — shed. This natural process allows new hair to grow while shedding dead hair to keep the coat healthy. This process happens to humans too, since we’re also hairy mammals.

How often and how much do cats shed?

Exactly how much fur your cat sheds will depend on their breed and the season — unless you happen to have a hairless cat like a Sphynx, in which case you won the shedding lottery! (Don’t celebrate too hard, though. Those little hairless weirdos need WEEKLY baths.)

While all cats shed, there’s a myth that long-haired cats shed more. It’s not true — you just see more of their fur because, well, it’s longer.

Cat and woman looking at computer while taking notes

What month do cats shed the most?

Most cats will shed more during the spring (March, April, and May) and the fall (September, October, and November) when the hair growth cycle speeds up to prepare for warmer or cooler weather.

So don’t be alarmed if you see a little more fur flying during these months. Your cat is just shedding their winter coat or preparing to pack on some extra fluff. Brings a whole new meaning to “spring is in the air,” doesn’t it?

Why is my indoor cat shedding so MUCH?

While all cats shed regularly, there are times when shedding is cause for concern.

If you’re noticing a sudden change in the volume of shedding, large clumps of fur coming out at once, dandruff, or bald patches, this could indicate an underlying problem.

Unfortunately, there’s a long list of potential causes for excessive shedding. Hair loss in cats can be caused by everything from minor skin irritations, stress, or food or environmental allergies to more serious concerns like nutritional deficiencies, parasites, or even kidney or thyroid problems.

Since excessive shedding can be a symptom of a medical condition, it’s a good idea to take note of your cat’s overall health and any recent changes in their behavior or diet and have a chat with your vet — especially if they’re constantly scratching, or displaying any changes in appetite, litter box habits, or energy levels.

5 ways to reduce shedding in cats

Want to keep your cat’s coat (and your couch) in tip-top shape? Here are some ways you can help reduce normal shedding while keeping your cat happy and healthy.

1. Establish a grooming routine

While most cats are pretty good at grooming themselves, some need a little help from time to time.

Cats who are older, overweight, have arthritis or other joint conditions, or have dense, easily matted fur may need a little help in the grooming department.

This can be as simple as regular brushing, or may require occasional visits to the vet or groomer for a bath and a trim.

It may take some time and lots of treats (don’t skimp on those), but developing a regular grooming routine with your cat will help keep their coat healthy and reduce shedding.

Cat with eyes closed getting groomed by human with a brush

2. Keep up with parasite prevention

Here, let me put this in bold so you don’t skimp on the Advantage or Revolution application this month:

Fleas, ticks, and mites can all contribute to itchy, inflamed skin, allergies, and increased shedding.

Besides the obvious reasons you don’t want these critters on your cat, they can also reproduce rapidly, lay eggs in your furniture (honestly? Nightmare fuel), and wreak havoc on your whole household.

Once you have an infestation, you’re playing a whole different ball game of stripping and treating every piece of fabric and orifice of your home. (Not to mention the potential zoonotic — AKA transferable to humans — diseases some of those nasty little buggers can carry. 🦠)

Bottom line: When it comes to parasites, prevention is waaay better than treatment! If your cat is not already on preventatives, talk to your vet yesterday. Or one day, you might just find yourself on the internet at 2 AM, scratching your arms feverishly while you learn way more than you ever wanted to know about the flea life cycle.

Human hand giving high five to black and white cat with its paw

3. Alleviate stress and boredom

Do cats shed more when stressed? Cats are intelligent, sophisticated, and sensitive creatures who need to feel safe, comfortable, and fulfilled to live their best life. (I am also describing myself.)

So when they’re bored or stressed, cats sometimes over-groom themselves. Excessive licking or chewing will not only increase shedding, but can also lead to sores and skin infections.

If you’re dealing with a ton of shedding, look for ways to reduce stress and boredom in your cat’s life. Most cats enjoy having places to hide, scratch, and climb, as well as things to chase and hunt. By which I mean dangly toys, not neighborhood birds.

Try introducing covered beds in cozy corners, cat trees, or scratching posts, plus plenty of interactive toys or food puzzles to your home. These can all help satisfy your cat’s natural instincts and reduce stress and boredom.

Cat cleaning itself by licking its paw while sitting down

4. Pick up pet hair

Vacuuming might seem like a no-brainer for reducing the hair around your home, but did you know it can actually help your cat shed less?

The more hairballs floating around, the more allergens your cat is exposed to — and the itchier they can get. It’s a vicious cycle. 🔄

So when the fur starts flying, grab your trusty Dyson, locate the lint roller, or just use the good old-fashioned rubber glove technique.

Small kitten following around a vacuum on a wood floor

5. Make sure your cat is getting proper nutrition

A common culprit of hair loss in cats? Poor nutrition.

Whether your cat has malabsorption issues (uncommon) or they’re just a finicky feline with particular taste, nutrition is critical to their coat and skin health.

Nutritional deficiencies (and the risk of bacterial infections) in pets are becoming increasingly common with the introduction of novelty diets. These diets, which can include homemade, raw, vegan, or so-called “boutique” diets, may be formulated with very little scientific research and veterinary nutritionist oversight.

Some unregulated pet diets can contain improper amounts of vitamins and minerals, or simply be too low in protein or omega-3 fatty acids. All of these issues can lead to skin and coat problems (among other health concerns).

While not all novelty foods are bad or incomplete, it’s important to review your cat’s diet with your veterinarian to ensure your cat is getting everything they need. Your vet may recommend adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your cat’s diet to help with excess shedding.

Omega-3 fatty acids can help

Omega-3 fatty acids, derived from fish oils, are another key player in skin and coat health. These hardworking lipids can help reduce inflammation, dry itchy skin, dandruff, and shedding. They also help promote a shiny, healthy coat.

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids don’t just stop at the skin and coat. They can also help ease the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and aging joints, and have been proven to support brain, eye, heart, and kidney health.

While some cat foods contain omega-3 fatty acids, many cats still benefit from supplementation. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most commonly recommended nutraceuticals by veterinarians.

But as with all supplementation, always consult your vet before starting.

The best omega-3 supplement for cats

There’s no shortage of omega-3 supplements for cat owners to choose from. In fact, the array of options can be downright dizzying. 😵‍💫

Unfortunately, the pet supplement market is largely unregulated (trust me, we’re not happy about that either), so some manufacturers are free to cut corners and use cheaper, lower-quality, and sometimes even harmful ingredients.

What’s a dedicated cat lover to do? Here’s what we’d look for if we were you.

The best omega-3 supplements for cats are:

✅ Science-backed and vet-recommended
✅ Made from premium, wild-caught fish
✅ Bottled in an FDA- and GMP-compliant facility
✅ Independently tested for potency and purity
✅ Made from 100% natural ingredients with no fillers or additives

    Where can you find this magical unicorn of omega-3s? Hmm. I can think of two options that just so happen to exist on this very website. 😉

    Paramount Pet Health Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil for Cats — 2 oz bottle

    Paramount Pet Health Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil

    Our Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is made with only 100% pure, wild-caught Alaskan Salmon with no fillers, binders, or additives.

    It’s a potent source of omega-3s in a highly palatable (AKA super tasty) and easy-to-administer package. Add it to your cat’s food, or use the dropper to put it right into their tiny mouths.

    Paramount Pet Health Omega-3 Fish Oil

    Our Omega-3 Fish Oil is made with sustainably sourced sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies for the perfect blend of omega-y goodness in a less-fishy-tasting package. You know, for the ~more refined~ feline palate.

    Paramount Pet Health Omega-3 Fish Oil for Cats — 2 oz bottle

    Interested in reducing shedding and supporting your cat’s overall health?

    Just one dropper of our potent, high-quality fish oils added to your cat’s food daily can help reduce shedding, promote healthy skin and coat, and support their brain, heart, eye, and kidney health. 

    But we don’t just want you to take our word for it! Read what other cat owners have to say about how our fish oils have helped their cats.

    Next article Ten Questions Your Vet Wishes You Would Ask

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