My sister loves to pet my kitty Piper every time she comes over. She is a huge cat fan, too, but she says how the only thing preventing her from getting one is cat’s shedding!
I understand what she means. I am also sure cat’s shedding might get annoying for all of you cat parents, especially those owning a long-haired cat.
Every feline will shed to some extent, and this is no surprise to any cat owners. But, why cats shed – this is a little more of a complicated question.
Shedding is a normal process that happens every day with cats, but cats can start losing their hair excessively due to certain circumstances.
Let’s dive a little deeper into causes of feline shedding.
You noticed increased shedding in your cat? Chances are it is spring or fall season.
This increased loss of hair will be especially dramatic in cats with access to the outdoors. Indoor cats are exposed to constant temperature control, so they might not shed as much.
Also, long-haired cats show more significant seasonal changes than their short-hair counterparts.
Why is seasonality one of the most important causes of cat’s excessive shedding? A change in seasons does more than just change the temperature outside; it also changes the length of the day which your cat’s hardwired biological system will certainly notice!
Cats shed off their heavy winter coat in the spring, including their undercoats – a fine layer of soft hair that provides an additional layer of insulation. Since nice and warm weather comes with spring – your cat’s undercoat has to go!
The second great shed usually comes in the fall to make room for your cat’s winter coat.
2. Poor Diet
The importance of a healthy and balanced diet for a cat’s overall health is not news to any pet parent. But, did you know that your cat’s diet also has a lot to do with her shedding?
If your cat isn’t getting all necessary nutrients from her diet, this could increase the overall amount of hair that your cat sheds.
As Dr. Coates of PetMD points out, “There’s no way to stop the natural shedding process of course, but changing a cat’s diet can go a long way towards reducing the amount of hair that ends up on your couch, in your bed, on your floor [or] in your food.”
The best diets for shedding are typically high in protein and high in fat (especially omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids).
Dr. Coates recommends that you “Look for a food that contains at least 45% protein on a dry matter basis” and total fat content “between 25-35% on a dry matter basis” in order to manage shedding.
If this is news to you, and if you haven’t paid special attention to the type of food your cat eats, then it is time to start doing it!
If you’d like to make a bigger change to your cat’s diet in order to get a handle on shedding, check out our complete guide on the best cat food for shedding.
3. Stress And Nervousness
Cats shed more when they’re stressed.
My exam table regularly gets covered in freshly shed hairs, since most cats don’t find veterinary visits as the most pleasant experience.
VetStreet.com gives a very detailed explanation of why this happens:
When cats are stressed or frightened, rapid shedding is a normal physiologic response. The hairs that come out are called telogen hairs: those in the resting phase of the growth cycle, just before they are shed.
So how does the shedding actually happen? We think that the tiny arrector pili muscles — which are attached to hair follicles — are activated when a cat is stressed. When they contract, it causes the hair to stand on end.
The telogen hairs, which are primed to be shed anyway, are released in the process.
But, veterinary exams are not the only stress triggers for cats. Having a new guest over, a visiting dog or a big move are all big changes for your cat that might make her feel stressed and nervous.
Feline obesity is often not taken as seriously as it should be.
Fat cats are thought of as cute and silly but, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center feline obesity is “the most frequently observed nutritional disorder among domestic cats. Its clinical signs are clearly apparent and, when observed, should be taken seriously and addressed without delay.”
A study published in the journal Veterinarni Medicina , found how up to 63% domestic cats are obese nowadays.
Okay, you understand how obesity is seriously bad for a cat’s health, but, what does this have to do with shedding?
Cats spend a lot of their time grooming, and, by doing this, they remove dead hair from all around and keep their coat looking healthy. However, obese cats can’t as easily groom themselves.
They will have a harder time reaching all areas of their body. As the cat gets obese, grooming becomes less and less of a priority… or possibility!
Your cat started shedding excessively all of the sudden? She might be pregnant.
According to West Vet Animal Hospital, “pregnancy and lactation can deplete animals of the calcium and minerals they need for a healthy coat.” This nutritional depletion can lead to excessive shedding, regardless of the season.
Pregnant cats might also shed more around their bellies to make room for their kittens to nurse.
6. Medical Issues
Medical issues are the last potential cause of a cat’s excessive shedding.
Let’s take a look at the most common health problems that might cause your cat to lose so much of her hair.
You are having a hard time trying to get rid of all the fur your cat has been leaving around lately?
Allergies might cause the increased shedding in your cat. Additional allergy symptoms are running eyes, itchiness, coughing, and sneezing.
Allergies come in many different forms and it could be anything – from the chicken in your cat’s food to a strong reaction to a flea bite.
Hyperthyroidism typically affects middle-aged or older cats and, according to Cornell Veterinary, one of the most common symptoms is a cat that “appear[s] unkempt, matted, or greasy.”
Hyperthyroidism is a complicated (but typically treatable) condition that progresses over time. Other symptoms include weight loss, increased appetite, and increased thirst and urination.
While ringworm mostly appears in kittens or young cats, felines with a weakened immune system could be susceptible as well.
The video below shows a typical case of ringworms in a cat
As Dr. Adam Peterson points out, “Clinical signs of ringworm may include excessive shedding, broken hairs, patchy or circular areas of hair loss, dander, scabs, red bumps, and occasionally deep-seated nodules.”
If you suspect your cat having any of the mentioned medical issues, you should visit your vet immediately.
Closing The Shedding Case
All worried pet parents who noticed sudden excessive shedding in their cats – now you know what are the most common causes of this phenomenon.
The next step would be to learn what to do about it.
I suggest you take a look at our article on 8 proven methods for reducing your cat’s shedding.
See you there!
 Tarkosova, D, Story, MM, Rand, JS, Svoboda, M: Feline obesity – prevalence, risk factors, pathogenesis, associated conditions and assessment: a review. Veterinarni Medicina, 61, 2016 (6): 295–307. DOI, Retrieved March 23, 2023.