Almost all cats shed, although some breeds do more than others. There's no way for a cat owner to stop the shedding, but you can implement some strategies to bring it to a more manageable level.
Manage Shedding Through Diet
One of the most common ways to reduce shedding recommended by veterinarians is to feed your cat a better diet. The diet should use high quality proteins at a level of at least 40% and fat content of around 25% to 35%. You want the food to have healthy fats like omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, fish oils and other nutrients and antioxidants designed to support a healthy skin and coat.
- A good choice is Orijen Cat & Kitten Dry Food with deboned chicken and turkey, whole eggs, flounder and mackerel as primary proteins.
- Royal Canin Hair & Skin Care Dry Cat Food is also highly recommended on Chewy.com and is designed for cats with sensitive skin who need additional nutrients to improve their skin and coat health. Royal Canin also makes a recipe specifically for long hair cats to reduce shedding and hairballs.
- If you prefer wet food, Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Canned Cat Food gets high reviews from Chewy.com users and uses real ocean fish, trout and salmon with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
You can also add supplements to your cat's food to help improve his skin and coat. There are pre-made formulas available at pet stores such as Shed-X Dermaplex which contains omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and vitamins A, D, and E. Another option is Deley Naturals Wild Caught GMO Free Omega-3 Fish Oil for Cats which can be pumped onto your cat's kibble. Another route is to add some fresh foods to your cat's kibble or wet food, such as tiny amounts of human-grade chunk light tuna packed in water.
Using Grooming to Reduce Shedding
Another tried-and-true method to reduce shedding is to groom your cat regularly. If you're not good at sticking to a schedule, add your grooming dates to your calendar and set your computer or smartphone to send you notifications. Every cat has different needs so discuss with your breeder, groomer, or veterinarian what is best for your particular breed. Some cat owners see grooming as a dreaded chore, but it's actually a wonderful way to spend time with your cat and make him feel closer to you. Make sure you use the right kind of brush for your cat's type of hair, or you can try grooming gloves instead.
Maintain Proper Hydration
Dry skin and fur can be a reason for excessive shedding, so make sure your cat is drinking enough water. You may want to add in some wet food mixed in with his kibble at regular meals to increase his water intake. If your house is dry, install a humidifier to help moisten the air, or place a small one near areas your cat enjoys hanging out, such as by a tall cat tree or his favorite bed.
Provide Regular Baths
Bathing a cat is another grooming chore that some cat owners look on with terror, but if you start teaching your cat that bathing is a good thing from a young age, he can learn to tolerate it. Some cats even love getting bathed. A regular bath can remove dead skin and hair from his coat which will make it healthier overall. Short hair cats can be bathed about once a month and medium and long hair cats should be bathed twice a month or more. If you and your cat just can't handle a bath, consider taking him to a groomer regularly or use deshedding wipes.
Reduce Feline Stress
When cats are anxious, they tend to shed more so making sure your cat is calm and enjoying his environment will definitely reducing shedding. Provide your cat with lots of environmental enrichment to keep his mind occupied. Cat trees, window perches, and toys he can play with are all great ways to help a cat feel less stressed. If your cat's anxiety continues, speak to your veterinarian about possible anti-anxiety medication and behavioral modification to help him feel better. Some cat owners have had success with plug-in synthetic pheromones and natural remedies as well.
When to Speak to Your Veterinarian
If your cat seems to be shedding excessively, or you notice other symptoms related to your cat's skin and hair, it's time to discuss your cat's condition with a veterinarian. It's possible there may be an underlying medical condition that could be affecting the rate of shedding. Symptoms to look out for include patches of hair loss, rashes, lesions, red and irritated skin, dandruff or other general illness indicators like vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.
Combatting Feline Hair in the Home
Along with changing your cat's care routine, you reduce the effects of shedding in your home with a few simple steps:
- Vacuum regularly to reduce the buildup of hair in your home. Often owners let it go too long and then it's harder to get hair to detach from the carpet and furniture if it's been there for a while.
- In addition to a regular vacuum, consider getting a small hand-held vacuum for pet hair. These work well on couches, curtains, beds and cat trees and are easier to maneuver than a full-size vacuum. Many also come with special attachments designed specifically to pull sticky hair off of surfaces.
- Invest in some tools made specifically to de-fur your belongings, such as sticky rollers and lint brushes.
Reducing Cat Hair Shedding
Cats are wonderful creatures to have but most cat owners will agree that shedding is not their favorite aspect of living with a feline. With a few changes in you and your cat's routine, you can make inroads into reducing the amount of cat hair in your home. Remember to speak to a veterinarian if your cat continues to shed excessively or if you notice signs of illness that may indicate there's a deeper problem with your cat's skin and coat.