Pet Care

Shedding

Orange and white cat laying down on floor

What Is Shedding?

Shedding is a cat’s natural process of losing dead hair. Outdoor cats may lose more hair in the spring and fall and retain more fur in the winter, while indoor cats can shed all year round. Regularly grooming your cat and vacuuming hair from your house should minimize the inconvenience of shedding. However, if you see bald patches in your cat’s fur or notice a significant loss of hair, the underlying cause may be a health-related problem and should be investigated by a veterinarian.

What Would Make a Cat Shed Excessively?

A variety of medical, dietary and stress-related issues can cause your cat to lose more hair than is normal. If you notice he’s losing an excessive amount of hair or has bald patches, please consult your veterinarian immediately. Your cat may be suffering from one of the following health issues:

  • Allergies
  • Ringworm
  • Bacterial infection
  • Fleas
  • Hormonal imbalance such as hyperthyroidism
  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Certain medications
  • Pregnancy or lactation
  • Sunburn

When Is Shedding a Cause for Concern?

If your cat obsessively licks, bites or scratches, if he’s losing patches of hair or stops to scratch or bite the same few spots persistently, then it’s important you take him in for a veterinary exam. There may be a medical, dietary or stress-related issue that needs immediate attention.

How Can I Minimize My Cat’s Shedding?

If your cat sheds a lot and your veterinarian has determined that there is no underlying medical cause, there are a few things you can do to minimize his hair loss:

  • Feed him a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Groom him regularly.
  • Examine your cat’s skin and coat during your grooming sessions. Checking for hair loss, redness, bumps, cuts, fleas, ticks or other parasites will be a fast way to determine whether you need to go the vet to solve your pet’s shedding.

What Happens if Shedding Goes Untended?

If your cat’s shedding is normal, the worst you may end up with is a hairy wardrobe and home—your cat, however, may suffer from hairballs if she isn’t groomed regularly. If her shedding is due to an underlying medical cause, including allergies, parasites, infections or disease, her health may continue to worsen if you don’t seek veterinary care. Additionally, cats who are not groomed appropriately can become matted—this is especially true for long-haired cats. Matted hair can be painful and lead to underlying skin problems.