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Do All Cats Shed? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Samantha Reed

By Samantha Reed

Persian cat and a pile of shedded cat hair

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cat shedding is normal regardless of the animal’s hair length. While cats are beyond efficient at being self-groomers, they can still require human help to remove the pesky loose fur. When cats groom themselves, they ingest some loose hair that can eventually become hairballs. All cats shed, but some breeds shed less often.

A healthy cat will shed one to two times a year as part of the feline fur growth cycle. This fur growth cycle allows a cat’s hair to grow, rest, die, and fall out. That means that there is a cat shedding season.


Why Do Cats Shed?

Felines shed their fur to get rid of their dead and damaged hair. This will help release essential oils back into their skin and allow the cycle to continue. Cat shedding is essential to their standard life cycle.

The cat hair growth cycle includes four stages:
  • Anagen: The hair grows quickly
  • Catagen: The fur is at full length and stops growing
  • Telogen: A resting period when fur does not grow or fall out
  • Ecogen: The hair falls out and makes way for the growth of new hair

In general, cats experience heavy shedding two times a year. Cat shedding periods typically follow the flow of the seasons. For example, heavy shedding occurs in spring and fall. This gives them a lighter coat during the spring and summer and a thicker coat during the colder months.

Interestingly enough, the amount a cat sheds is influenced by the hours a day your cat is exposed to the sunlight. Indoor cats, especially those living in homes with consistent air conditioning or heating, can constantly shed because their biological system can become confused by the consistently changing light and temperature.

hand holding shedded cat hair
Image Credit: Doucefleur, Shutterstock

How Much Shedding is Normal?

Indoor cats shed consistently at low levels throughout the year, but outdoor cats may experience heavier shedding with the seasons. In addition, some cat breeds shed more than others. For example, American Bobtails, Persians, and Chartreux cats are known to be exorbitant shedders. American shorthairs are also known to be big shedders.

Being armed with information on your cat’s natural shedding patterns can help determine what is ”normal” for your cat.

white himalayan persian cat in hepper nest on couch 2

Indoor Vs. Outdoor Cat Shedding

Determining what is normal for your cat depends on whether they are indoor or outdoor cats. All cats shed their fur periodically throughout the year, but the frequency will vary between the two types of cats.

Indoor cats may shed their fur all year long. Indoor cats can experience cooler temperatures during the summertime because of air conditioning and warmer temperatures during winter due to indoor heating. The temperature imbalance paired with the presence of artificial lighting rather than the sun can throw your cat’s body clock off balance.

On the other hand, outdoor cats will typically shed less than their indoor counterparts. Outdoor cats are more in tune with their internal body clock and seasonal changes.

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When Is Cat Shedding Not Normal?

While cats shed daily, excessive shedding is typically a sign that something is not normal. If you notice any of the following symptoms, along with excessive shedding, you should take your cat to the vet right away:

  • Increasing the frequency of self-grooming
  • Biting, chewing, and scratching at specific spots
  • The formation of bald spots
  • The appearance of cuts or small sores
  • An increase in the number of hairballs

Shedding is normal, but excessive shedding can have some extra side effects. Once a vet can identify what is causing your cat’s increased shedding, they can provide a treatment plan and other needed guidance when it comes to keeping the hair loss under control.

Cat shedding brushed
Image Credit: Vaillery, Shutterstock

What Leads to Excessive Shedding?

You can rest easy; most of the time, shedding isn’t serious. While that doesn’t mean it can’t be serious, most of the time, excessive cat shedding has an easily identifiable cause and a set treatment plan. There are five major causes of excessive shedding and hair loss in cats:

  • Allergies: Skin, food, and environmental allergies can cause your furry friend to itch and scratch and bite at their skin, leading to subsequent hair loss and shedding. When a cat scratches or grooms a lot in a particular area, it will lose hair and may even develop a skin infection. If your cat shows signs of grooming due to allergies, it’s best to get them checked out. Allergies are not 100% curable but can be managed.
  • Fleas: Fleas, mites, and lice can lead to bald spots and sores. Fleas are notorious for a reason. They’re a huge pain for everyone, especially your beloved cat. Fleas cause crusty red bumps, intense itching, and excessive hair loss.
  • Ringworm: Ringworm is a fungal infection that can cause scaly rings of missing hair. It is not an actual worm, but the fungal infection is incredibly contagious between cats, dogs, and even humans.
  • Metabolic diseases: While lesser known, metabolic diseases like kidney disease and hyperthyroidism can cause excessive hair loss in cats. While kidney disease is not curable, they can be managed when caught early. Hair loss is usually a symptom of something more, and visiting your vet can make all the difference.
  • Stress or boredom: Hair loss resulting from stress is called psychogenic alopecia, and it happens to humans as much to cats. If your cat is extra stressed or consistently experiencing anxiety symptoms, they are more likely to suffer from excessive hair loss. When cats experience extreme stress, they might groom themselves twice as much and lose hair.

How To Help Your Cat with Shedding

Although most felines can groom themselves, a little helping hand can make all the difference. You can help your beloved cat to remove dead skin, loose hair, and oil from their coat with regular brushing. Not only will this reduce the excess hair settling in your home, but it will also reduce the likelihood of hairballs. In addition to helping your cat with hair loss, regularly brushing your cat’s fur can benefit them by also:

  • Minimizing their chances of developing hairballs and mats in their fur.
  • Increased bonding time with your cat.
  • Making it easier for you to notice sudden changes in their skin or fur.

Setting a regular grooming routine would benefit you and your cat. You can also feed your cat a special diet to encourage a healthy coat. A good diet can help reduce your cat’s overall shedding and the frequency of required grooming. A change of diet may even eliminate the problem if your cat is shedding because of food allergies and sensitivities. You can also use anti-flea medication to prevent additional hair loss from parasites and bathe your cat once a month.


Final Thoughts

In general, shedding is normal for cats. All cats unavoidably shed. If your cat’s coat is thick and shiny, its health is likely in great shape, and you have little to be concerned about. Even if you suddenly notice more fur around your home or collecting on your favorite black shirt, the chances are, it is a routine shed.

Shedding alone is not something to be concerned about. However, if your cat is shedding and obsessively self-grooming, biting itself, or coughing up more hairballs every day, it is best to visit your trusted veterinarian.

Featured Image Credit: DreamBig, Shutterstock

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