How to Help Cats Shed Less

by Nicholas DeMarino, Demand Media
    Regular grooming can help cut down on excessive cat shedding.

    Regular grooming can help cut down on excessive cat shedding.

    If you have a cat, you have loose cat hair. Shedding is part of cat physiology, even for so-called hairless cats, who actually have super-short fur. Whatever kind of cat shares your home, you'll help him shed less by controlling a handful of variables.

    Diet and Altering

    Your cat gets rid of dead hair and skin cells by shedding. Old follicles push out new ones -- each season for outdoor cats and constantly but less severely for indoor cats. Diet and hormones greatly affect the density and health of your cat's coat; an unhealthy coat might become brittle, causing excessive shedding. Provide high-quality cat food and have your cat spayed or neutered to keep these variables in check. Cat beds and cat trees at least help keep the bulk of shed cat hair confined to certain areas. If you want to truly master your cat's shedding, though, you'll have to look at other aspects of his lifestyle.

    Bringing Outside In

    Outdoor and indoor-outdoor cats grow longer coats that protect them from the elements. They also tend to shed more -- at least in terms of acute, seasonal volume -- than their indoor brethren, according to WebMD. Making your cat a permanent indoor resident can reduce shedding. Once indoors, it's likely your cat will shed lightly year-round instead of in seasonal bursts.

    Shedding Light

    Temperature has little to do with how much hair your cat grows or sheds; the actual trigger for both cycles is ambient light. Most cats shed their coat and grow a new one each spring as the days lengthen. Their coats thicken in the fall, as the days shorten. A cat exposed to natural light all day and artificial light in the evenings may shed a bit all year. Some shedding is normal and it's a good thing; particularly for long-haired cats, as their fur can easily become matted or cause hairballs.

    Grooming and Bathing

    Regular brushing and vacuuming can help you tame shedding. The occasional bath may help, too. Grooming helps tame the shedding, but you'll want to keep an eye on him for problems related to his hair. Excessive hair loss and obsessive licking, biting and scratching can indicate a range of health problems including allergies, ringworm, bacterial infection, fleas, hormonal imbalance, poor diet, stress, medication side effects, pregnancy or sunburn, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Schedule a vet appointment if you suspect something's amiss with your cat's coat.

    About the Author

    Nicholas DeMarino is a journalist and former newspaper associate editor and reporter. His work has appeared in "The Arizona Republic," "The Billings Gazette," "San Antonio Current" and in other publications. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon.

    Photo Credits

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