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Cat Shedding a Lot All of a Sudden? Here’s 9 Possible Reasons Why

close up of pet hair brush with pet fur clump after grooming cat

Dealing with a bit of hair on your clothes, furniture, and blankets is part of daily life for a cat parent, especially during warmer seasons. As much as cats spend many hours a day grooming themselves, they do benefit from frequent coat brushings. Brushing your cat around once a week will help keep shedding under control, help you better spot skin problems or ticks and fleas, and spreads their natural oils around to keep their coat and skin healthy.

A bit of shedding each day is normal, but if you can’t keep it under control or have noticed a sudden change in the amount of hair your cat sheds, there might be something more serious going on. Here are nine possible common reasons your cat might be shedding a lot all of a sudden.


The 9 Possible Reasons Why is Cat Shedding a Lot All of a Sudden

1. Diet

old black and white cat eating
Image Credit: Elizabett, Shutterstock

One of the ways to tell whether your cat is eating high or low-quality food is by taking a look at their coat. A poor diet will cause your cat’s hair to look dull, break easily, and cause them to shed more. It won’t be soft and silky to the touch, and their skin may become dry and flaky.

Cats need a well-balanced diet containing animal protein, fats, and carbohydrates to thrive. If they’re not getting the nutrition they need through their food, their coats will be one of the first things to suffer.

Your cat’s food affects the health of your cat, so spend a bit more money on high-quality cat food and cut costs in another area.

2. Allergies

allergic skin disease in a domestic cat
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Allergies can be the main reason why your cat is shedding so much. What’s causing your cat’s allergic reaction can be hard to pinpoint because it could be anything from certain types of trees, or certain types of foods, to dust or the cleaning products you use around your home.

The allergies don’t directly cause the excessive shedding, but they do cause your cat’s skin to itch, which causes them to lick their coats excessively and lose hair. It’s important to take your cat to the vet for a diagnosis so that they can provide you with the best solutions to ease your cat’s discomfort.

3. Parasites

close up fleas on cat
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Brushing your cat regularly is the fastest way to pick up on parasites in your cat’s coat. Parasites include fleas, ticks, and mites. Fleas, in particular, are an irritation to cats because they bite their skin to ingest their blood. This causes your cat to scratch their skin. The continuous biting from the fleas may even result in an allergic reaction.

Due to the ongoing scratching, your cat is likely to shed more. If you inspect their skin, you’ll also notice red bites and flea dirt. Bathing and combing your cat will reduce the number of parasites on their body. It’s important to use oral or topical parasite control treatment on your cat as it’ll kill the parasites when they try to bite into your cat’s skin. You can get this treatment from your vet.

4. Ringworm

Close-up ringworm on cat's leg
Image Credit: Nadya Bessonov, Shutterstock

Ringworm isn’t a parasite but rather a fungal infection. However, it got its name from its circular, red, and scaly appearance when found on humans. Cats experience ringworm slightly differently as it typically results in a bald spot due to the damage the fungi causes to the hair in the affected area. In some cases, these “spots” can be quite large, and your cat’s hair may look patchy.

Regardless of whether your cat is symptomatic or not, they are contagious to humans and the other pets in your home. Be sure to disinfect all the areas your cat has been around to stop the spread of infection and give your cat the treatment your vet prescribes for them.

5. Overweight or Obese

a fat persian cat lying sideways on wooden surface
Image Credit: jklugiewicz, Pixabay

A large percentage of cats are considered overweight around the world. As unhealthy and detrimental as it is, it also impacts their coat condition. Overweight cats tend to shed more than healthy cats because they’re unable to groom as well as they should because they can’t reach the different areas of their body.

This leaves their coats looking messy and dull. Without daily grooming, your cat is going to shed more. Take your cat to the vet and discuss a new eating plan to help them lose their unhealthy weight, as that is the primary problem. Secondly, help them with their grooming routine by brushing them daily.

6. Age

old gray tabby cat lying on bed
Image Credit: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

Similar to overweight cats, older cats often can’t groom the different areas of their bodies. Unlike overweight cats, it’s usually because they are arthritic or not as flexible as they once were and find grooming a lot more uncomfortable or painful. Without self-grooming, their hair is likely to mat and tangle and fall out over your furniture, surfaces, and clothes.

Arthritis may prevent your cat from grooming themselves frequently, but it can also cause excessive licking. Arthritis causes pain in a cat’s joints and is more common in senior cats. Due to the pain, your cat may lick themselves excessively, which can cause hair loss and bald spots. If you have an older cat struggling with hair loss, get them examined for arthritis.

7. Pregnancy

a pregnant Donskoy Sphinx cat is sleeping
Image Credit: Azovsky, Shutterstock

Pregnancy is all about changing hormones, and these changes can often affect your cat’s hair and make it shed more, especially on her stomach. The hair sheds in this area to allow her kittens to find her nipples and feed easier. This isn’t the case for all pregnant cats, but it is mostly temporary, and excessive shedding should stop after pregnancy and nursing.

Whether the pregnancy was planned or not, make sure your cat receives the best care throughout this journey. Also, ask for veterinary advice on what to do once her kittens are delivered to ensure they develop correctly.

8. Stress and Anxiety

cat licking paws
Image Credit: Elya Vatel, Shutterstock

Many people suffer from anxiety, and cats can too. When a cat feels anxious or stressed, they may scratch or groom excessively or stop grooming altogether. Both actions can cause more shedding to occur.

If this is the reason for their increased shedding, you’ll notice other symptoms too. They’re likely to be more withdrawn than usual, start hiding, become less tolerant, misbehave, show more aggression, or over or undereating.

Help your cat feel safe in the home you share together and think back on all the recent changes that have taken place in your home. Try to remove or adjust anything that might be making your cat feel uncomfortable.

Provide comfort to your cat and show them that they are safe. You can also chat to your vet about calming products to help them cope with the changes.

9. Thyroid Disease

cat skin and hair on brush after grooming
Image Credit: photong, Shutterstock

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause excessive shedding in cats if they’re left untreated. It affects the whole coat, not just certain areas, and when it is treated, the hair should grow back, and the excessive shedding should stop.

Other symptoms will accompany hair loss, such as lethargy, weight gain or loss, dry and flaky skin, excessive thirst, and urination. If your cat has thyroid disease, it’s vital that you take them to your vet for a diagnosis and treatment.


How to Prevent Excessive Shedding

If your cat is shedding excessively, the first thing you should do is take them to the vet. A quick visit to a professional can save you a lot of time, worry, and money as you try remedy after remedy. A vet will be able to tell you if your cat has an underlying health issue or if your solution is as simple as changing their diet to something more nutritious.

Helping your cat out weekly with their grooming routine by giving them a thorough brush will reduce their shedding. However, if they’re old, overweight, or unable to groom themselves, you’ll need to brush them more often to stop their hair from matting, tangling, and falling out. Make sure to pick the best brush for your cat and their coat type.

You could also consider taking your cat to a groomer for a bath and shave, or you could do it yourself. Bathing will keep their coat clean and free from dirt and loose hairs. Shaving their coats won’t stop the shedding, but it’ll make the hairs shorter, and it’ll prevent matting if your cat struggles to groom themself. If you do shave them, keep them inside, especially if it’s cold, and make sure they have a warm bed to sleep in.

If your cat is a breed that naturally sheds a lot, train them to sleep in their own cat bed or cat tree, as these spots are where most of their hair will accumulate and is a way to control the amount of hair left around your home.

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If your cat’s shedding has suddenly become a lot worse, the reason is usually quite simple, and it has an easy solution. However, it might be an indication of something a bit more serious health-wise. Take your cat for an examination if you can’t determine the cause, and help your cat out by brushing their coat more frequently.

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