Cat shedding: what’s normal and what’s not?

Is your couch covered in a veritable snowstorm of cat hair? Do your favorite clothes get covered in hair after your cat gets up from your lap? Do clouds of cat hair drift around your home like so much confetti? Shedding in cats is a normal characteristic of their species; they shed every day and also undergo one or two larger cycles of hair loss and growth each year. But what if you notice your cat losing hair more often or in large amounts?

When to worry about your cat’s hair loss

All cats have their own shedding cycles; some only slough off small amounts of hair while others lose far more. In all cases, shedding to the point where the coat turns very thin is cause for concern and a likely vet visit. Red or inflamed skin under the hair is also a sign of an underlying problem.

Cats groom themselves every day and ingest a great deal of hair in the process but if yours starts vomiting or developing hairballs more often, it could mean an issue of excessive hair loss. Don’t expect to see trails of hair all over the house but clumps of it appearing regularly is a red flag.

Examine the coat

The quality of your cat’s coat is another way to gauge hair loss. A healthy cat with normal shed and growth cycles will still maintain a soft, silky, clean texture to its coat. On the other hand, a sharp, raggedy texture can be a sign of stress, disease, or parasites. Cats will often “announce” such problems by over grooming or biting their hair right out to the point of bald patches or an overall rough and dirty coat.

What causes rapid hair loss in cats?

A handful of symptoms can cause extreme shedding in cats, including:

  • Inflammation or irritation to the ears, legs, or other areas
  • Ringworm
  • Allergies to food or surrounding environment
  • Fleas

How to keep your cat’s coat healthy

Sudden and rapid hair loss is cause for concern and should be addressed with a vet visit; however, you can pitch in during normal shedding cycles by brushing your cat with a quality pet brush. A good bath also goes a long way, as well as changing your cat’s diet to foods made with natural oils. Topical oils is another option but ingesting oils is more effective in producing a healthy, lustrous coat.