Fur care

Cat Shedding: Causes, Stages and Potential Problems

Laura García Ortiz
By Laura García Ortiz, Veterinarian specialized in feline medicine. May 30, 2022
Cat Shedding: Causes, Stages and Potential Problems

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A shiny coat is one of their most beautiful physical features, but let us face it, cats shed. Cat owners must be prepared to tolerate loose hair in the house and on their clothing. Changing coats is a normal, natural process in a cat's life, regardless of hair length. Cats shed more hair in the spring when the weather gets warmer. However, cats also shed due to medical problems such as stress, poor nutrition, allergies, medications, infections, and sunburn.

In the following AnimalWised article, you'll learn everything you need to know about cat shedding and what you can do to manage the mess.

You may also be interested in: Dog Shedding


  1. What is cat shedding?
  2. When do cats shed the most?
  3. First coat shedding in cats
  4. Risks of excessive shedding in cats
  5. What to do when a cat sheds its fur?

What is cat shedding?

Shedding occurs when a cat sheds dead or damaged fur to make room for new, healthy fur. Changing the coat is part of a natural balance. The purpose of shedding is to remove dead hair and release natural oils in the skin. Dead fur that cannot be removed by combing or brushing is removed by shedding. If this is not done, skin irritation may occur.

Fur shedding is considered a sign of a cat's health because sick cats do not shed their fur. On the other hand, if cats shed excessively and even develop hairless patches, this could indicate a dermatological problem, a behavioral problem, or a feeding problem that requires veterinary attention.

When do cats shed the most?

Cats shed their fur throughout the year, but in spring and fall the shedding peaks. This is due to the fact that with the change of coat, cats also adapt to the temperature changes.

  • In the fall: cat shed old hair to make room for new hair to help them stay warm in the winter. The hair also grows thicker.

  • In the spring: cats shed all that extra hair. The coat also gets finer, so they can withstand the heat better.

The change of coat during these months is much more pronounced in outdoor cats or cats that occasionally go outside than in cats that always live at home. This is because indoor temperatures usually do not change so abruptly due to heating and air conditioning. In apartment cats, the change of coat is usually more constant throughout the year.

Some cat breeds are characterized by less hair loss and require easier grooming. Read this other article to learn more about the 8 cat breeds that shed the least.

First coat shedding in cats

Cats are born with soft, downy fur, and as they move past the newborn stage, their fur develops with them.

In most cat breeds and types, the "kitten coat" is shorter, softer and less shiny than the coat they will wear as adults.

Sometime between 6 and 12 months of age, as the kitten reaches puberty, they begin to shed their baby fur and the beautiful coat they will wear as an adult develops. Generally, only the appearance of the coat changes, not its color, although in some cats the coat may become slightly darker in adulthood.

Before this time, cat owners will notice very little shedding. But during the first shedding, you might be surprised to find cat's hair is all over the house. During this stage, it is important to get your cat used to brushing and even bathing. Do not despair if you see a lot of cat hair, remember that this is a perfectly healthy and normal process in your cat's development.

Cats go through a number of stages in their lives. As a cat owner, you should be aware of these stages of your cat's development. Knowing about the different stages a cat goes through is essential because it helps you understand your cat better, and it's also crucial to knowing how to properly care for them at each stage. Continue reading this other article to learn more about your cat's developmental stages.

Risks of excessive shedding in cats

Cat owners are sometimes concerned about their cat's heavy shedding and excessive grooming. As we mentioned earlier, shedding is a natural and healthy habit that should not cause any problems. However, if you notice that your cat is shedding more than usual due to excessive grooming, this could have negative consequences for your cat's health.

During the shedding process, your cat's tongue picks up loose hair. This means that after several grooming sessions, the cat swallows a lot of hairs that end up in its digestive system. After passing through the stomach, they enter the intestines, where they can accumulate and form hairballs. This issue is much more frequent even if the cat has long or semi-long hair, because the hair fibers occupy more space and the intestine can be clogged with a smaller amount.

These hairballs can partially or completely block the intestines and cause clinical signs of a foreign body in the cat, such as vomiting and loss of appetite or anorexia. In many cases, the solution is to remove them in the operating room.

One of the ways you can identify excessive grooming in your cat is by noticing patches of broken or sparse hair, complete hair loss in specific places, and occasional damage to the underlying skin.

See this other article for advice on how to manage your cat's shedding if you'd like to learn more.

What to do when a cat sheds its fur?

To avoid the problem of hairballs, it is important that we take care of our cats' fur regularly. During the months of intense shedding, this care must be done even more frequently. These are some things you can do to help your cat during the shedding seasons:

Brush your cat

Throughout the year, cats should be brushed regularly with a special cat brush, at least once a week for short-haired cats and twice a week for long-haired cats. During the shedding season, this should be done every other day for short-haired cats and every day for long-haired cats. Brushing not only promotes blood circulation, which makes the hair stronger and healthier, but also pulls out dead hairs and prevents the cat from swallowing them. Also, grooming your cat is a great way to strengthen the bond with your cat.

Bathe your cat

Bathing your cat properly can be good for its skin and coat. By bathing your cat and then brushing it, you can remove most of the dead hair. It is ideal to get a kitten used to this from a young age so that bathing does not become a stressful or traumatic moment for your cat. If your cat becomes hysterical when they see water, it is better not to force the situation. Instead, use positive reinforcement to teach your cat to associate bathing with a positive experience. If you want to learn more about how to bathe your cat properly, read this other article on how to bathe a cat for the first time.

Increase water intake

If your cat eats dry food, their diet probably does not provide enough water to meet their needs. As a result, their digestive system may not function as well as it should, increasing the risk of stomach obstruction due to hairballs. Provide your cat with a clean, fresh water source. Many cats prefer running water to still water and do not like the smell or taste of tap water. You might consider getting your cat a water fountain to encourage them to drink more.


There are cats that eat this plant to purge themselves. If this is the case with your cat, you can try giving it during the intense shedding period to improve intestinal transit and help them vomit the hairball before it reaches the stomach.

Balanced diet

In addition, the cat must be provided with a balanced diet that contains all the nutrients in the right proportions. This will help your cat to maintain the health and condition of their coat. A cat's diet is directly related to its development and health at all stages of its life. If you want to know more about what your cat should, read this other article about the best diet for cats.

If you think that the loss of fur of your cat is not normal, or you have noticed an irregular increase of dead hair, around the house, you should consult your veterinarian. There are several causes related to poor health that cause a cat to lose its fur, so it is best to have your cat examined by a professional.

Cat Shedding: Causes, Stages and Potential Problems - What to do when a cat sheds its fur?

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Cat Shedding: Causes, Stages and Potential Problems