The truth about the cat's shedding is that every cat lover must accept it because this is a normal, natural event in a cat’s life. Even humans have periods of hair growth and shedding of hair. Shedding is how animals replenish their fur and keep it in good condition.
Cats in the wild generally shed their coats twice a year, in the spring to lose the heavy winter undercoat and in fall in preparation for the "grow-in" of the next winters' undercoat. However, since we have domesticated cats and subjected them to air-conditioning in summer and artificial heat in winter, their systems have been confused enough to put them into a constant shedding state.
Cats shed to remove dead hair from their bodies. Dead hair can cause skin irritation and thus needs to be removed. If you do not remove it for them, they will release it on their own.
Hair shedding is considered a sign of health in the cat because sick cats do not shed. It happens for different reasons, but basically, it depends on the time your cat spends outdoors or whether your cat is purely an indoor cat. The shedding is largely influenced by daylight, and this is called “photoperiod”. The number of hours a cat is exposed to sunlight in a day (photoperiod) triggers the shedding process. Also, shedding varies considerably with the breed and husbandry practices (i.e. bathing, grooming, activities, etc.).
Indoor cats shed at any time of the year. The amount of shedding hair is less than the outdoor cats due to the artificial light inside the house, but it also depends on the control of the constant temperature in your home.
The outdoor cats shed in the spring and fall when the days start to lengthen and there is more sunlight. You will not see much, if any, shedding of your outdoor cat during the winter months because they naturally will hold on to all their fur to use as thermal protection from the cold conditions.
Cat breeds that don't shed
Two cat breeds are often touted as shedding a minimal amount - the Cornish Rex that has short, curly fur that lies close to her body, and the Devon Rex that is similar and has curly fur that can be in a very thin coat across the cat's body. Because of their very short and fine fur, their shedding is not usually noticeable, but they also shed.
The only cats that do not shed fur are the purebred hairless cats, such as the Sphynx. This unusual cat is not hairless. She has a fine down on her body, rather like the fuzz on a peach. Some people say the skin of a Sphynx feels like suede or chamois. This breed is rare and needs special care, but they are a great choice for people with allergies.
How to deal with cat’s shedding
Shedding in cats can be controlled with frequent brushing and combing. Daily brushing and combing remove loose and dead hair and help keep a cat’s skin and coat healthy. The cats with healthy fur coats tend to shed a bit less.
Start brushing your cat slowly, keep the sessions short and positive and always stop before your cat protests. Using food treats can help make the situation pleasant and help your cat learn to enjoy the situation. As your cat learns to enjoy the sessions, you can make them longer. Brushing helps remove dead hair, and therefore the cat will be less likely to shed in your home.
When you comb your cat, comb her carefully in hair growth direction to smooth the coat and remove any minor knots or tangles. If the coat has a particularly stubborn knot or tangle, you may have to trim it with scissors. For longhaired cats, begin with a wide-tooth comb and follow up with a fine-tooth comb. To avoid injury, consult a veterinarian if your cat's coat has severe matting.
Whether purebred or mixed breed, a key to good brushing lies in the length of a cat’s coat. Cat with a very short, single coat similar to the Siamese, Burmese and Cornish rex needs very little brushing. The dense-coated shorthaired cats like American shorthairs, British shorthairs and Scottish folds require a monthly brushing session. Semi-longhaired cats resembling Maine coons should be combed and bathed even more regularly. Cats with long, flowing coats resembling the Persian should be combed and have their faces cleaned at least every other day, and they should be bathed weekly or bi-weekly.
Combing and brushing have so many advantages:
- more frequently you brush your cat and remove dead and loose hair from her body yourself, she will not shed;
- they will reduce the occurrence of hairballs, especially in the longer-haired breeds;
- keep cat's coat smooth and free from mats - little clumps of fur that sometimes form;
- it is a wonderful form of interaction for both you and your cat and can be a wonderful bonding occupation;
- allow you to keep an eye on your cat's coat and skin for potential problems, such as parasites and skin conditions etc.
Other ways to reduce a cat’s shedding is to keep your cat healthy and feed her quality cat food. You should feed your cat with nutritionally complete and balanced cat food with all the nutrients a cat requires for healthy skin and hair coat. Some products can be applied to your cat’s hair coat to reduce daily shedding. There are vitamins derived from fish oils, available at pet shops and veterinarians, which can also help. They provide omega-3 fatty acids that strengthen the coat. Also available are topical sprays, which alter and reduce the shedding cycle.
If the heavy shedding is consistent throughout the year, the cats may have a food sensitivity or a dust allergy. In extreme shedding cases, when your cat is actually sick from excessive hair balls, some veterinarians recommend shaving the cat three to four times a year. But In both cases, you should consult your veterinarian to determine the cause of such shedding.