how to stop long-haired cats from shedding
Questions About Cats

How To Reduce Shedding in Long-Haired Cats

Shedding fur is an issue that all owners of long-haired cats need to manage. This fur that falls from a cat’s coat will cling to clothing and furnishings. The dander found in fur can also aggravate allergies.

The best cat hair shedding solution is to groom your cat regularly. The more you brush your cat, the more fur you’ll remove in a controlled environment. You could also bathe your cat. Ensure any excessive shedding is not due to health or lifestyle. Feed a high-quality diet, minimize stress, and encourage hydration.

While shedding is unavoidable, it’s advisable to learn how to slow down shedding in cats. If the shedding has a trigger, identify the cause and resolve it. It is a natural shed, manage your cat’s fur with regular grooming and a balanced diet.

Why Do Cats Shed Fur?

Shedding is a natural process that cats use to moderate body temperature. Cats are covered with fur all year round, and the density of this fur is defined by the seasons.

In the fall, cats grow a thicker coat to stay warm in the winter. By spring, they start to shed this excess fur in anticipation of the summer. This will be most noticeable in long-haired cats as they have more fur to lose.

Shedding can be a nuisance. Feline fur has a habit of clinging to soft furnishings and clothing. If you keep a long-haired cat, it’s advisable to step up your cleaning regime in the spring and summer months. An animal fur-friendly vacuum is an essential investment.

Another big concern about shedding is allergies. If somebody in your home has an allergy to cats, the shedding will aggravate this. This is because dead skin cells, known as dander, are found in this fur. The danger will enter the air and spark an allergic reaction.

The following breeds of long-haired cats are renowned for excessive fur shedding and should be avoided by anybody with an allergy.

  • American Bobtail
  • American Curl
  • Cymric
  • Maine Coon
  • Nebelung
  • Ragamuffin
  • Ragdoll
  • Siberian

Just be aware that all cats shed, even those with short hair. This cannot be prevented. It can be managed if you take appropriate steps.

Does Shedding Make Cats Itch?

The natural process of shedding fur should not cause discomfort to a cat. It will not be painful or itchy. If your cat is scratching and shedding, there will be an explanation, especially if the shedding takes place in the winter.

A happy, healthy cat will and seem largely indifferent to shedding. What’s more, a cat should only undergo one major shed per calendar year – two at most. As discussed, these can be anticipated according to the changing seasons.

If your cat is scratching and shedding, especially in winter, consider the possible explanations for this. Your cat may have a parasitic infestation or be experiencing stress and anxiety.

How Long Does Shedding Season Last for Cats?

In outdoor cats, shedding season will be a comparatively brief but intense period in the spring. Outdoor cats have more exposure to natural light and thus have a more natural circadian rhythm. These cats understand that the days are growing longer.

When exposed to natural light for longer periods, cats instinctively shed large swathes of their fur. Long-haired cats will shed most of all. This is because they grew more fur to stay warm in the winter but realize this is no longer required. With indoor cats, the process is more gradual. It’s likelier to unfold throughout the year.

Artificial light and heat sources can confuse an indoor cats’ circadian rhythms and delay a natural shed of fur. There will be a period in which shedding is intense, though.

This could be used to the advantage of a long-haired cat owner. If you wish to delay the shedding of a cat, a dark and cool environment will convince that cat it is still winter. Alas, the ethical merits of complicating a cat’s circadian rhythms are questionable at best. 

Why is My Cat Shedding So Much All of a Sudden?

If your cat is shedding fur to schedule, there is no need to worry. Long-haired cats leave a sizable trail of fur in their wake during shedding season. If the cat is not covered with bald patches and is acting normally, let the shedding run its course.

On the other hand, cats may sometimes lose vast swathes of fur without warning. This can be concerning, especially in fall or winter when cats should be gaining fur, not losing it. What does excessive shedding in cats mean? There are many possible explanations, including:

  • Allergic reactions, usually to food or something in the cat’s environment
  • Parasitic infestations – as per Veterinary Parasitology, fleas and ticks carry disease that leads to fur loss
  • Dry skin, potentially caused by dehydration or excessive temperatures
  • Fungal skin infections, such as ringworm
  • Stress and anxiety
  • A medical concern, such as feline alopecia

In the event of unexpected, excessive shedding, it is always worth seeking advice from a vet. It may be completely innocent, but sudden shedding can be linked to ill health, especially in older cats.

Do Senior Cats Shed More Than Younger Cats?

As your cat grows older, you may notice some changes to shedding patterns. On paper, cats shed the same amount of fur at any age. The complications of age mean that this takes a different shape in senior cats, though.

Just like human hair, feline fur starts to lose some of its luster and gloss with age. An older cat will have less sleek, supple fur that is more prone to matting and clumping. This will be aggravated by the fact that older cats often struggle to groom due to reduced mobility.

Regularly check the health of older cats. You should be taking your senior pet for a veterinary check-up at least once a year, ideally twice. This will pinpoint any of the health concerns that older cats are prone to in good time.

Beyond this, be sure to groom a senior cat no less than twice a day. Your older cat will be increasingly reliant on you to keep its fur clean and tidy. The more you help with grooming, the more natural the cat’s shedding patterns will be.

How to Reduce Hair Shedding in Cats

If you are still wondering how to stop long-haired cats from shedding, the short answer is that you cannot. Shedding is as natural to cats as eating, sleeping, and breathing. Attempting to cease all shedding will just result in distress for the cat and disappointment for an owner.

While shedding cannot be stopped, it can be controlled. We previously mentioned the possibility of adjusting a cat’s environment to amend the circadian rhythms. If a cat thinks it is winter, it will barely shed. We’ll say again, though, that we do not recommend this.

When the shedding is natural and organic, focus on keeping it under control. Never be annoyed or frustrated with a cat for shedding fur. They cannot control the process. All you can do is make it as unobtrusive as possible.

does grooming help with shedding cats?

Reduce Stress

Heavy shedding can be linked to stress and anxiety in cats. Sometimes, this is an organic loss of fur. More often, the cat will be actively tugging outs its fur in tufts. If the cat is already shedding, this hair will quickly start to pile up.

Cats find grooming soothing, so a stressed or anxious cat may groom to excess. This referred to as psychogenic alopecia. The fur most likely to removed and pulled free is around the sides, legs and belly.

As explained by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, psychogenic alopecia is rarely a standalone concern. It is usually linked to another health complaint.

As cats rarely express pain or discomfort, your cat may have been sick for a while without you realizing it. The cat is experiencing stress and discomfort because of this.

Some cats are nervous and easily stressed by nature. It may be tempting to tiptoe around a nervous cat, but this does more harm than good in the longer term. It sends a message that the cat is right to be afraid of its surroundings.

Stick to a reliable routine and avoid subjecting your cat to avoidable stressors, such as loud noises. Beyond this, you should leave your cat to build confidence and discourage any plucking of fur. Assisted grooming will help.

Provide Territory

In the spirit of full disclosure, providing territory will rarely actively cease shedding. It will minimize any stress and anxiety that your cat experiences, though. Cats are always more comfortable when they have terrain to call their own. This may reduce shedding.

One of the biggest frustrations of a shedding long-haired cat is finding fur everywhere in the home. If your cat uses all the furniture in a room, it will leave its mark on each item.

If your cat has territory, it will naturally gravitate toward it. This will ideally be an entire rarely used room, but a corner is fine. The important thing is that the cat is not disturbed in this territory. This will be treated as an invasion and act of aggression.

Grooming

As cats grow older, they should always be given a hand with grooming. Cats like to be clean, using the barbs on their tongue to remove any loose fur. Sadly, many older cats are arthritic. As grooming requires dexterity, they struggle to meet their own exemplary standards.

Regardless of age, does grooming help with shedding cats? The answer to this is an unqualified yes. The more you groom and brush your shedding cat, the more loose fur you will pull away. Doing this in a controlled environment stops the fur from spreading.

Use a combination of tools when grooming a long-haired cat. Start with a wide-toothed comb. Follow this up with a narrow brush. Consider concluding with a lint roller to pick up any stubborn shed fur that your brushes did not collate.

Groom a shedding cat in short, controlled bursts multiple times a day. Cats can grow overstimulated when groomed by external forces. Pleasure can turn to pain in an instant, and your cat will just as quickly switch from purring to scratching.

If your cat spends most of its time indoors, you may need to assist grooming for more throughout the year. As discussed, such cats tend to shed with greater frequency than outdoor cats, who lose larger amounts of fur in a shorter space of time.

Bathing

In addition to traditional grooming, bathing long-haired cats can be an effective way to manage shedding. After a bath, loose fur will be particularly responsive to brushing. You’ll also remove large quantities of fur while handling your cat in the bathtub.

Naturally, the issue with this plan is the traditional feline aversion to bathing. Most long-haired cats should be limited to two baths per year, for everybody’s sake. During shedding season, you can up this schedule to once every four weeks.

If you have never bathed your cat before, start slowly. Run a few inches of lukewarm water in the kitchen sink and place your cat’s paws within. Even if the cat is water-averse, it may enjoy this and splash around. If this is not the case, abandon hope of bathing the cat. If it does not tolerate damp feet, it will certainly not cope with a full shower.

If your cat does allow bathing, use warm water and a cat-specific shampoo. You cannot use human shampoo, no matter how natural the branding claims to be. Likewise, dog shampoo is a no-no. Cats have a unique skin pH, and the wrong shampoo will hurt.

Once your cat has been bathed, gather up any loose fur while you still have it contained. Dry the cat thoroughly, ensuring its body temperature does not drop too sharply, and leave it alone for a while. Your cat may be a little cross with you for a short spell.

If you can tempt your shedding cat into a bath, there is another advantage. As per Allergy, bathing reduces the presence of Fel d 1, the protein found in cat dander that causes allergic reactions. Normal levels will be restored within two days, but bathing offers some brief respite.

Diet

As cats age, their diet needs to mature and change with them. Older cats need to eat a senior-specific food that provides appropriate nutrition for their life stage. Without this, cats suffer from dry skin and weak, loose fur. Excessive shedding will follow.

The best cat food for shedding felines is high-quality wet food, containing plenty of omega 3 and omega 6. These omegas are fatty acids that offer moisture to the skin and fur. The better condition a cat’s fur is in, the less it will shed.

Be mindful about switching a cat’s diet, especially if you are introducing supplements. The easiest change to make is switching to the senior-specific version of a favored food. If your cat subsides solely on kibble, slowly tradition it to wet food over the course of two weeks.

Keep an eye out for any warning signs of a food allergy, too. Cats are not necessarily born with allergies and sensitivities. They can arise at any point in a cat’s life. If your cat has started to scratch and sneeze in addition to shedding, a food allergy may be responsible.

how to slow down shedding in cats

Hydration

Cats can be prone to living on the brink of dehydration. As cats are descended from desert animals, they are not hardwired to seek out water. Cats absorb much of the water and moisture they need from their urine, only drinking when necessary.

When cats dehydrate, their skin grows increasingly dry. This will flake, giving the appearance of dandruff in the fur. Eventually, if the skin is too dry and brittle, the hair follicles will suffer. Fur will shed at an enhanced rate as a result.

This issue is complicated further by the fact that cats are fussy about water. Many cats will outright refuse to drink tap water. This is often due to the scent of chlorine and heavy metals in the water. Consider using filtered or bottled water to attract cats.

This may still prove fruitless. Many cats distrust still water as a matter of wild instinct. In the wild, cats drink from running water sources such as streams. This means that a water fountain could be necessary. It’s certainly better than letting your cat drink from the toilet.

Parasite Treatments

All cats should be regularly monitored and treated for parasites. This includes indoor cats. While a cat that does not venture outside is less likely to encounter ticks, fleas and mites can still be present in a home. Once they gain a foothold, parasites are hard to banish.

A standard flea drop treatment, available from any pet store, will typically take care of this if applied regularly. Also, check your cat’s ears for any signs of mites. If your cat has an ear infection, mites are likely to blame.

Mites are like fleas in that they make cats itch and grow increasingly uncomfortable. In doing so, the cat will end up tearing out large clumps of loose fur. This will leave you with two issues to manage – excess shedding and parasites in the home.

Long-haired cats can be particularly susceptible to parasites. This is because fleas and mites are tiny and thus harder to spot among long, thick fur. Prevention is always better than cure. Eradicate parasites before they have a chance to infest your cat.

Does Shaving Cats Help with Shedding?

Shaving a shedding cat should be considered a last resort. Cats are not regular customers at pet grooming salons for clipping services. Few cats will ever willingly accept a haircut, and many will grow distressed by the experience.

The table below discusses the pros and cons of shaving a cat. Please allow us to reiterate, though – a natural shed is always preferable to taking a clipper to your long-haired cat’s fur.

ProsCons
Removes vast swathes of fur in one actionPotentially traumatic for the cat
Reduced risk of hairballsCan cause skin irritation
Reduced risk of fleas or ticksLess protection from the rays of the sun
Reduces need for grooming in senior catsExposes a cat’s tissue paper-thin skin

If you are insistent on shaving your cat, find a professional groomer. You could do this at home, but it is inadvisable. Your cat will bite, scratch, and squirm, rejecting the process at every turn. Groomers have protective equipment and safe restraints.

Be wary of the drawbacks that we mentioned above, too. The less fur a cat has, the less protection is afforded to its famously thin skin. A shaved cat should be kept indoors for its own safety until a natural level of fur has grown back.

Expecting a cat not to shed is unrealistic. All felines shed their fur, especially long-haired breeds. This is a basic survival mechanism. You can manage shedding by taking an active role in grooming, though. Couple this with lifestyle changes to keep loose fur to a minimum.