Is your cat’s seasonal shedding normal?

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Is your cat’s seasonal shedding normal? - Orange cat walking through snow, covered in a loose smattering of snowflakes that represents dandruff.

Cat parents often wish that shedding wasn’t part of living with feline friends. Although shedding is unavoidable - even hairless breeds shed skin cells - it’s important to know when shedding is normal and when hair loss points to other health issues. Read on to learn:

  • Why does shedding in cats occur?
  • Can excessive hair loss be a sign of illness?
  • Can excessive shedding be prevented or treated?
  • Why do cats shed more in the spring?

Shedding is a way cats naturally keep their skin and coat healthy. Some cats, especially double-coated breeds, are especially heavy shedders and shed the most in the spring. Normal shedding in cats does not have other symptoms that negatively affect the skin. If symptoms such as itchiness or skin irritation are seen, they are likely caused by an underlying medical issue.

Why do cats shed?

Shedding is a healthy and normal process in cats. Shedding is important because it replaces dead hair with new, healthy fur. In addition, shedding helps distribute natural oils across the skin to keep it healthy and moisturized. Shedding can be year-round or seasonal in cats. Seasonal shedding occurs when a cat excessively sheds twice a year as it changes its coat for the upcoming season. Seasonal shedding helps cats stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Other than hairless breeds, all cats shed, and hairless breeds do shed dead skin cells, commonly referred to as dander.

What does normal shedding look like in cats?

The amount of fur a cat sheds varies depending on breed, genetics, grooming practices, and hair type. The amount of cat hair shed can appear excessive, especially in breeds with double coats, such as Maine coons, ragdolls, and Persian cats. Hair length does not usually affect how much a cat sheds, but gives the appearance of more shedding since a larger amount of hair is involved. A cat who is shedding normally is not expected to have:

“Shedding in cats is a normal process, even if the amount of hair loss seems excessive,” explains Dr. Jo Myers, a veterinarian at Vetster. “Fall and spring shedding can be particularly heavy for seasonal shedders. As loose hair is lost due to shedding, the number of hairballs can also increase as cats groom themselves.”

Can shedding in cats be a sign of illness?

Excessive shedding can be a sign of illness. While shedding normally, a cat’s skin looks healthy and clear with no bald spots or unusual hair thinning. Poor skin and patchy hair loss can point to medical conditions such as:

Allergic reactions due to flea or environmental allergies most commonly affect the skin and coat, leading to excessive shedding. Injuries such as scrapes and burns can cause hair loss as well as extreme stress and nutritional deficiencies. It’s important for cat owners to talk to a vet any time they notice a change in their cat’s skin or coat health to ensure there is not an underlying problem.

Quote from Joy Myers: Cat shedding is normal, although often heavy. Heavy shedding can lead to increased hairballs.

Can I prevent my cat from shedding?

Normal shedding is healthy and cannot be prevented. However, cat hair in the home from excessive shedding can be minimized by a regular grooming routine at home. Professional grooming sessions can also help control the mess associated with excessive shedding. Lint rollers can also help remove excess hair from clothing and furniture. Unhealthy hair loss can be prevented by:

Talk to a veterinarian and a groomer to learn what brushes will work best for your cat’s coat and what prevention measures you can take to maintain healthy skin and a healthy coat.

Can vets treat cat shedding and hair loss?

Shedding is a healthy, natural process that cannot be treated or prevented by a veterinarian. Instead, the amount of pet hair in the home can be reduced with regular grooming and cleaning. Unhealthy hair loss in cats can be treated by vets after a diagnosis is made with the help of diagnostic testing. Treatments vary depending on the underlying cause but may include:

  • Medications for bacterial or fungal infections
  • Flea treatment and control
  • Diet change
  • Addressing stressors
  • Other treatments for underlying medical conditions

Why does my cat shed more in the spring?

Spring shedding occurs when the thick winter coat is shed and replaced with a lighter coat for the spring and summer months. Double-coated breeds are more likely to experience noticeable spring shedding, but any cat can shed seasonally. Seasonal allergies and flea allergies may also cause abnormal hair loss and skin irritation in the warmer months. Unlike normal shedding, these conditions will also show additional symptoms such as itchy skin. Any sudden changes in skin or coat health require veterinary attention. If you have questions about your furry friend’s excessive shedding, you can connect with an online vet near you who can help you determine if it is normal and offer advice on keeping the excess hair under control.

FAQ - Is your cat’s seasonal shedding normal?

What months do cats shed the most?

Some cats shed more in the fall and spring months as they prepare for the upcoming change in temperature. Spring shedding can appear much heavier as the winter coat is replaced with a lighter summer coat.

Why does my indoor cat shed so much?

Both indoor and outdoor cats experience heavy shedding throughout the year, which is natural and healthy for the skin and coat. Shedding cannot be stopped or prevented, but various tactics can help keep the pet hair under control in the home, such as regular brushing, cleaning the home frequently, and visiting a professional groomer.

What does it mean when cats shed?

Shedding in cats occurs when dead hair falls out and is replaced by new, healthy hair growth. Shedding also keeps the skin healthy by distributing natural oils. Some cats shed seasonally as their coat becomes thicker or thinner for the upcoming season changes.

What cat breeds are heavy shedders?

Nearly every cat breed sheds, but double-coated breeds typically shed the most. Excess shedding occurs in the spring as the heavy winter undercoat falls out and is replaced by a lighter undercoat to keep cool in the summer. Double-coated cat breeds include Maine coons, Persians, ragdolls, Norwegian forest cats, and Manx cats. Single-coated, long-haired cats do not necessarily shed more than short-haired cats.