Shedding is simply a part of life if you’re a cat owner, especially if that cat is a gloriously fuzzy British Shorthair. Healthy cats shed as old hair falls out and is replaced by new hair; this is natural and not a cause for concern. Normally, you can just invest in a clothes brush and a lint roller and then go about your day — but sometimes your cat is losing more hair than usual and you need to take action.
Why is my British Shorthair shedding so much? Heavy shedding is normal for this breed. Additional shedding can occur during the spring when your cat’s winter coat moults and is replaced by a lighter coat that’s suitable for warmer weather. Cats may also shed more hair due to stress, nutritional deficiencies, skin conditions or ill-health.
- Why do British Shorthairs shed more than other cats?
- What causes problem shedding?
- How can you support your cat’s health so that shedding is reduced?
- What can you do to help cut down the amount of loose hair your cat produces?
- What foods are good for reducing shedding?
To find out more about normal shedding and abnormal hair loss in cats, keep reading. We have the answers you’re looking for.
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Your British Shorthair cat and shedding: what you need to know
Why is my British Shorthair shedding so much? Ordinarily, you would expect this breed to shed fairly freely even if there are no problems.
The wonderfully dense coat of the British Shorthair is a marvel to behold and lovely to touch and stroke; it’s thick, plush and partly responsible for the British Shorthair’s “teddy-bear cat” nickname. On the downside, this coat is notorious for producing rather a lot of loose fur.
It’s simply a quirk of the breed, something you can get used to. Shedding tends to be more noticeable in growing British Shorthair kittens and may taper off as your cat gets older. There are steps you can take to minimise your cat’s normal shedding so it’s less of a nuisance, both to you and to her.
If your cat is shedding more heavily than usual, however, you may find there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. It’s not normal for your cat to suddenly lose a great deal of fur, especially if she also has bare patches of skin; this kind of severe hair loss will need to be investigated as it betokens a health issue you need to take care of.
As well as being unaesthetic and making your living space look untidy, excessive shedding can be deeply unpleasant for your cat. As she cleans herself, your British Shorthair will tend to pick up all that loose hair and swallow it. Your cat is likely to develop hairballs because of this.
A British Shorthair who consumes large amounts of loose hair may develop more serious gastric issues if hair builds up in the digestive system. When it comes to causes, there are many possibilities. General ill-health can make your cat shed more. Some skin disorders can cause your cat to lose her fur; these can include bacterial or fungal infections, allergies and sometimes parasitic infestations.
Even a sufficiently bad flea infestation, with the attendant scratching, can cause abnormal fur loss. Stress and anxiety can make your cat’s fur fall out, although this is usually temporary and will resolve when things settle down. Diet is very often a factor, especially in older cats.
Senior cats may struggle to digest foods properly and require a bit of a boost to their nutrition if they’re going to be at the top of their game in terms of health. Simple dietary changes are often enough to prevent problem shedding, with supplementation a possibility if changing the cat’s food doesn’t help.
In the upcoming sections, we’ll discuss diet and how you can improve your cat’s coat with the right foods. Also in this article, we’ll be looking at ways you can stay on top of your British Shorthair’s normal shedding and prevent it from being a problem.
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Grooming your British Shorthair
Because they have a short coat, not everyone realises that British Shorthairs need regular grooming. Their fur is so dense, though, so a regular brush or comb through is a necessity; this breed can get very uncomfortable if their loose fur isn’t removed.
They’re a lower-activity cat and thus tend to have more problems with excess hair building up than their more energetic cousins. A once-weekly brushing session is a minimum I would recommend; your cat will benefit from more frequent grooming.
Brush or comb very gently in the direction of hair growth, making sure you don’t miss any spots on your cat’s body. Be very careful not to go too hard — if you’re rough or careless, you can end up tugging out more fur and increasing the problem.
There are lots of tools on the market, from slicker brushes to brush mitts and even handheld pet vacuums that allow you to suck up loose fur from your pet. I like to use a metal shedding comb — it’s very effective in removing all of the loose fur and my cats seem to enjoy the sensation this type of comb produces.
If your cat is less keen to be combed, try a brush mitt; these let you pass off the weekly brushing as mere petting, which most cats won’t object to. You might also consider lightly running a clean, damp cloth over your British Shorthair’s fur to get the last of the loose hair.
Grooming is also a great time to check your British Shorthair for any skin problems. Keep an eye open for dried blood or little black flecks in her fur — these are an indication that she has picked up fleas from somewhere and needs treatment. Other warning signs are patches of dry skin, scabs and bare spots.
Abnormal shedding: how much is too much and what are the causes?
Because British Shorthairs are such world-champion fur shedders with such dense coats, it can be a little difficult to determine whether they’re shedding too much.
One way to tell is from the hairball situation. If your cat is producing more hairballs than usual, this could be a sign that she is losing additional hair. If your cat’s coat seems thin and sparse, this is a clear sign that she’s shedding too much. A British Shorthair’s coat should be thick and crisp-looking; if there are bald patches or the fur seems thin all over, abnormal fur loss is definitely occurring.
The first thing to consider is your cat’s stress level. British Shorthairs are patient and laid-back but their placid demeanour can mask a lot of distress. Think about things that could be bothering your cat: rumbustious young children, aggressive or overly friendly dogs, other cats who haven’t taken kindly to your British Shorthair are very common issues.
Sometimes the stressor is more obvious and isolated, such as a recent house move. Removing the source of stress can resolve the issue. If your cat is suffering from general ill-health — stomach problems, internal infections etc — this can cause hair loss. Allergies are a common cause of excessive shedding; if you can’t identify the allergen (often a flea treatment or pet shampoo), you may be able to resolve the issue with antihistamines.
Ask your vet for cat-safe medicines. If your British Shorthair has visible areas of reddened, discoloured, broken or erupted skin, an infection may be at fault. Sometimes these can be corrected quite quickly with a gentle topical medication but for more severe issues an oral medication may need to be prescribed. Another common issue is nutritional issues; we’ll discuss those next.
Diet and shedding: what you can do
There are quite a few possible dietary changes that may address hair loss in cats. With a young, healthy British Shorthair on a diet of good quality food, supplementation generally isn’t necessary and won’t reduce shedding.
If you have a less spry senior kitty, however, you may find the food that previously kept her healthy is no longer sufficient. An older cat may come to have rather different nutritional needs than a younger one.
In general, I would always encourage owners to discuss supplementation with the vet but small changes in your cat’s diet probably won’t cause any problems. The main culprits in feline hair loss seem to be fatty acids — omega 3, etc — which can be boosted by adding certain foods.
A modest amount of good quality oily fish can help; get this as an ingredient in cat food rather than feeding your cat tuna packaged for humans, as this is not great for your cat’s health. Fish should be given in moderation. You can also add egg yolks — raw if you can be reasonably certain they’re free of salmonella, cooked otherwise — to your cat’s food a couple of times a week.
There are foods with anti-shed formulas on the market and these can be helpful. It’s wise to discuss your cat’s excessive shedding with your vet if it doesn’t resolve quickly, as there could be some more serious underlying condition.