Does the phrase ‘Cat got your tongue?’ sound familiar? Probably, but I’m not using it in the common sense. I mean more in the sense that you have cat hair in your mouth, on your tongue. Not only is there cat fur in your mouth, it is likely all over your clothes, your furniture and practically anywhere and everywhere it could possibly be. It even gets in your pockets! From time to time you’ve probably debated shaving your cat, I know I have! Well, I’ve joked about it at least. I don’t think my cat Beast would be too happy about it though, she’d likely get quite cold! This constant fur assault did lead me to ask how to stop cat shedding though.
There is no way to stop a cat from shedding
The answer I found was not what I wanted to hear, but also not terribly surprising. The short answer is, there’s not a way to stop cats from shedding. Ok, so if you can’t stop it you might at least want to understand what’s behind it right?
So what is causing your cat to shed? You might think it is the temperature, I certainly thought this contributed to it at at least. While associated, the temperature change doesn’t cause the shedding. It’s actually the amount of light your cat is exposed to each day. The relative lengths of light and dark influence the shedding cycle in your cat. So outdoor cats that are mostly exposed to sunlight and less artificial light will shed more in the summer and less in the winter. Indoor cats on the other hand experience a heck of a lot more light at all times of day and this impacts the growth and shedding cycle of the hair. The basic result, year round shedding. Lucky us for providing them a nice warm home huh? So we can’t stop the shedding, we know what’s behind it, what do we do about it?
The best we can do is control the fur
Despite quite a bit of research, it doesn’t appear that anyone has been successful in stopping shedding. Unless you count those folks that have hairless cats like the sphinx. But if you ask me that’s cheating because the sphinx doesn’t have any hair to begin with! So what other options do we have? Well, we can control the fur as best we can through a variety of methods.
Stopping the fur at the source
- Brushing – Frequent brushing will help extract loose hair from your cat, long haired or short. If you’re not already brushing on a consistent basis then be sure to start with short brushing sessions. Also note you might need to try a few different types of brushes to see which one your cat likes. Some cats might never really like brushing, but beyond minimizing shedding, brushing will also help decrease the likelihood of hairballs.
- Bathing – While bathing a cat is not a necessity by any means, it has been shown to reduce shedding by removing excess fur from their coat. You should be careful with this method though because if bathing your cat makes it unhappy this can lead to additional shedding based on the high stress caused by bathing. Talk about your all time backfires right? If you want to try bathing your cat then you can follow this guide on Cat Bathing 101. Always remember to use specially formulated cat shampoo and avoid their face, especially their eyes. And give them a good drying with a towel, the hair dryer scares most cats quite badly.
- Bathing Alternatives – If you don’t even want to try bathing your cat, but you would like to achieve the same results, you’re in luck. There are a few additional things you can try that should help, like wipes and pet hair conditioner! First use the specially formulated wipes then spray on some of the leave-in conditioner to moisturize the coat. Moist healthy hair is less likely to fall out!
- The Groomer – There is also the option of taking your furry friend to a professional groomer, especially for those of you with long haired cats that are especially afraid of brushing and bathing. Having your cat trimmed down once or twice a year is a good way to help decrease the visible hair you’ll end up seeing throughout the house.
Maintaining inner beauty
- Ensuring your cat stays hydrated – Be sure that your cat has a constantly supply of clean fresh water. Cats will often avoid drinking water out of a bowl with their hair in it, kind of a vicious cycle huh? So you need to ensure your cat has clean water because staying well hydrated helps ensure your cat has a sleeker/shinier coat. A more hydrated coat means a healthier coat and a healthier coat means less hair falling out.
- Developing a high quality fur coat – If your cat doesn’t have a healthy coat with a nice sheen to and he or she is getting plenty of water this may be a strong indicator that your cat might not be getting all of the right nutrients she needs to maintain a healthy coat. Some of the key nutrients that produce a shiny coat, not surprisingly, come from fatty acids. Omega-3 and Omega-6 to be exact. There are a bunch of different ways to get your cat more of of these fatty acids including supplements and specially formulated food. Check with your vet to see which is best for your cat.
- Maintaining a healthy body weight – If your cat happens to be overweight she might be having a tough time grooming herself. When she has a tough time grooming herself this can lead to an unhealthy coat which can drive additional shedding. If your cat is overweight (you can’t feel her ribs at all when gently pushing on her tummy) then you should help her work on shedding a few pounds. Get it? Shedding? Pounds. Sorry, I make lame jokes, but this is seriously important!
Cleaning Up The Strays
No matter what you do there will be some hair that manages to find its way onto the floor or onto your clothes, this is just a reality of cat ownership. So here are a few ways to clean up the fur:
- A damp cloth – This works great on most any surface, including furniture. Be sure not to soak the cloth and drench whatever you are wiping down, otherwise you can easily damage wood surfaces in particular.
- A lint roller – Great for clothing. There are multiple types of lint rollers, some of them have the tear off sheets and others have specially designed fabric that traps fur and lint as you drag them across a surface. I’ve had success with both, but the ones with the special fabric are less wasteful.
- Swiffer Sweeper – The Swiffer is great for cleaning up cat fur off of wood floors. It really does make it super easy to just quickly run around and pick up a ton of fur without much effort. Swiffer replacement pads can get pricy over the long haul though.
- A vacuum – A vacuum huh? Duh, thanks Craig. I know it is obvious, but one recommendation I would make is to focus on vacuums that are pet specific models. These are special designed to deal with the extra hair that would be gathered when you have pets around. You might also consider one of the automatic vacuums if you have specific areas your cats frequent.
Wrapping it up:
Remember shedding is a natural process for your cat and that we humans are largely responsible for our indoor cats shedding all of the time. The tips above should help you decrease the amount of fur you end up encountering, the most important one, and probably one of the easiest, is establishing routine brushing. Establishing a consistent cleaning routine is equally as important because once the hair falls off it starts to pile up.
If none of the above seem to be making a dent in your shedding problem then you should definitely get your cat to the veterinarian for a checkup to ensure there’s not something else causing it! As mentioned above as well, before providing any supplements or significantly changing your cat’s diet be sure to consult your vet for recommendations and doses.
If you have any other thoughts on how to stop cat shedding then please leave a comment below or send me an email at Craig@StuffCatsWant.com so I can update this article.