September 23, 2019

4 Reasons Your Cat Sheds So Much

Cats shed. It’s a natural process!

In fact, cats shed in order to get rid of dead, unnecessary hair. Remember that your cat’s coat is cozy and soft, but it also serves an evolutionary purpose. Wild cats live(d) outdoors where a strong, regenerative coat was necessary to regulate their temperature. So, the underlying reason your cat sheds is that their bodies are designed to. All cats shed (okay, except hairless cats!) and there’s not a whole lot you can do to stop it. What you should be concerned about are episodes of heavy or excessive shedding, particularly if they seem abnormal for your particular feline. If your cat starts shedding significantly more than normal over a period of a few days or weeks, it’s probably a good idea to call your cat's veterinarian for a check-up. Here are four things that might ultimately be to blame.

1. Cat Allergies

Cats tend to shed most in spring and fall as their bodies prepare for seasonal swings in temperature. If you notice excessive shedding during other seasons, your cat may be suffering from allergies. Cats can have seasonal allergies just like humans and be allergic to anything from ragweed to pollen, but they’re also prone to foodborne allergies. Both can result in skin issues such as rashes, itchiness, or bald spots. If your cat’s skin is unbalanced due to an allergy to something - either environmental or food-based - shedding is likely to result.

2. Ringworm

Ringworm is just for kittens, right? Think again. Ringworm can actually affect cats of any age and its symptoms are more subtle in adults. In kittens, ringworm is usually identified by red ears, face, or paws, in addition to “crustiness.” Since ringworm is actually a fungal infection that thrives on skin, adult cats who contract ringworm (usually from another infected animal) are likely to develop skin problems. These can result in brittle, broken hairs that fall off rapidly. If you suspect your cat might have ringworm, have her evaluated by a vet immediately.

3. Thyroid Disease

Thyroid issues are one of the most common reasons cited by cat owners for visiting the vet. An over- or under-active thyroid gland can cause problems for a cat of any age, but is most likely to occur in cats aged 10 and older. The symptoms of thyroid disease in cats vary widely, making it tricky to spot without medical assistance. A few of the most common expressions of thyroid disease include hair loss, weight loss, and/or an elevated heart rate.

4. Anxiety

Ever noticed how it seems like you lose the most hair when you’re stressed? Cats can get stressed, too! Anxiety in cats can result in plethora of physical ailments ranging from loss of appetite to extreme shedding. Some cats even cope with stress by developing psychogenic dermatitis, a condition in which they over-groom themselves to the point of inducing baldness. Conversely, if your cat is feeling sick or anxiety-ridden, she could also be neglecting her regular grooming regimen, resulting in a higher rate of shedding. What should you do if your cat is shedding more than normal?  It’s a good idea to observe your cat for other symptoms such as sluggishness, diarrhea, or behavioral changes. Then call your vet. These can help a vet determine the root-cause of the shedding. Once a qualified vet has confirmed that your cat’s shedding is normal, do your best to mitigate the effects of her shedding in your home. Ask her doctor about incorporating fatty acids or a new brand of food into her diet, and remember to brush her each day using a deshedding tool that removes loose or fallen fur. And when all that cat fur gets you down, just remember: shedding is a sign of a healthy cat!  

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