What Age Does a Cat Start Shedding?

Indoor cats shed year-round because of artificial light.
i cat . image by royaroir from Fotolia.com

A cat's coat can be a beautiful thing to look at, but the allure fades quickly when you find hair everywhere as he sheds. In your home and car. On your furniture and clothes. Cats shed their entire lives, meaning you'd better stock up on lint brushes and sticky rollers.

Kittens and Shedding

Kittens are born with thin, soft and fuzzy hair, the type that makes you just squeal with excitement at the adorableness. This is their “baby coat” so to speak, and will be replaced with a coarser adult coat as they grow. The exact age varies depending on your breed, but in general kittens start shedding starting at about 5 months of age. It usually takes a few weeks to fully transition from the baby to adult coats, during which time you'll find hair everywhere.

Seasonal Shedding

Contrary to popular belief, shedding has nothing to do with temperature—it's all about the amount of daylight. Because of this, cats typically shed most noticeably in the spring and fall to lose, then replace, their heavier winter coat. Indoor cats, however, tend to shed more regularly year-round, due to the artificial light they're exposed to. The advancement of electricity has effectively confused a cat's coat, causing it to shed constantly instead of just at certain times of year.

Minimize the Damage

To prevent your home from being buried under a fine layer of “cat,” you can minimize the amount of hair left wafting around and landing on anything that stands still long enough. Start brushing your cat as early as you possibly can to get him used to the routine. This will remove much of the dead coat before it becomes airborne, and result in less hair where you don't want it. During times of heavy shedding, brush your pet at least once a day, every day. Lessening the amount of dead hair on your cat will mean less cleaning for you, and a lower possibility of a hairball problem for him.

Watch for Changes

A cat's coat is constantly replacing itself, which is why your cat never actually goes bald even if the layer of hair covering your living room makes it look as if he should be. Shedding is a normal cycle in your cat's life, but there are times when it can be a sign of an underlying medical problem. If you notice any significant changes in the amount of hair your cat sheds, or he seems to be losing it in clumps and even starts sporting bald spots, get him to your veterinarian. Health issues such as ringworm or allergies can cause excessive hair loss, as can fleas or a poor diet.

the nest