Every cat owner will tell you that petting the soft fur of a favorite cat is one of life’s greatest experiences. But any happy feelings gained during their high-quality snuggle session can quickly dissipate when they look down to find their hands or clothing covered in a layer of their sweet kitty’s fur. 

While a bit of airborne fluff simply comes with feline-owning territory, the reasons why cats shed vary – and they might just surprise you.   

Millions of Strands

People shed their hair on a daily basis, but instead of the approximately 100,000 hairs on our heads, the average cat can have millions covering their backs, undersides, and legs (that’s between 60,000 and 120,000 hairs per square inch!). 

Primary Functions

Thick fur protects a cat from temperature extremes. In cold weather, the three layers of different types of hairs protect the skin from frigid temperatures. Summer coats can help cats regulate their internal temperatures and protect the skin from harsh UV rays. Amazingly, their fur coats also reduce injury to the skin, such as bites, scratches, and abrasions.

When Cats Shed

Cats shed about twice a year. After the cold weather ceases, they will start to shed their thick winter undercoat. Triggered by longer daylight hours, indoor-outdoor cats and feral/stray cats shed with more predictability. Indoor-only cats that are subjected to constant, year-long artificial light may end up shedding more than twice a year. 

The Larger Picture

Understanding that shedding is a natural process, when cats shed excessively or with more frequency it can be indicative of a larger issue. Make an appointment with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your cat’s hair loss.

What’s in the Bowl?

As obligate carnivores, cats need high-quality protein, vitamin E, and vitamin A to maintain a healthy coat. Certain deficiencies related to diet can be modified, and were happy to help you find the right food that meets your cat’s nutritional needs

Creepy Crawlies & Triggers

Some cats suffer from environmental allergies, like grass, pollen, mold, and dust mites – but fleas and ringworm are equally problematic. Allergic or atopic dermatitis can cause dry, itchy skin – this can lead to excessive licking or scratching, which only exacerbates the problem. Please let us know if you notice any bald patches, skin inflammation, or obsessive self-grooming. 

Home Strategies

To help your cat and reduce the amount of fur floating around the house, we recommend trying out the following strategies:

  • Brush your cat’s fur every day. 
  • Keep up your cat’s monthly parasite prevention medication throughout the year.
  • Give your cat a soothing bath every 4-6 weeks to wash away any allergens, parasites, dead hair and debris.
  • Schedule regular grooming appointments if your cat simply refuses your efforts at home.
  • Reduce their stress levels with high quality feline pheromone diffusers. Help with any changes at home (like a new roommate, pet, or nearby construction) by creating safe, quiet places for them to retreat to. 

Here to Help

Our compassionate staff members are always here to help you work through the various issues facing your cat. We value the privilege to treat your cat and hope you’ll contact us at Old Derby Animal Hospital with any questions or concerns.